The camera never lies. Or does it?

Football Federation Australia Director of Referees Ben Wilson has today written this column to explain some of the offside decisions made in Round 5 of the Hyundai A-League.

“Alivodic. In an offside position. Is he interfering with play? Goodness knows what. In the end they decide it’s a goal.”

This was the confusion on Sunday as the commentators struggled to explain how a goal was awarded, seemingly after the assistant referee flagged for offside.

Some say that the camera doesn’t lie. However, if it is not directly in line with the second last defender, it is very difficult to make definitive offside decisions.

Before I explain the decision in Newcastle, let’s look at some other offside decisions from the weekend.

Adelaide United vs Melbourne City

On Thursday night, the assistant referee made an excellent decision in the lead up to Melbourne City’s fourth goal, scored by Bruno Fornarelli.

Even though from this camera angle the white attacker’s body appears to be in front of the body of the red defender, the leg of the defender is keeping the attacker onside. This can be clearly seen, even  though the camera is not directly in line with second last defender. The assistant referee allows play to continue and a goal is fairly scored.

Adelaide v City offside decision.

Melbourne Victory v Perth Glory

The next excellent decisions by an assistant referee came on Saturday night in the Westfield FFA Cup Final.

In the 17th minute, a goal by Kosta Barbarouses was disallowed. The referee, the assistant referee and the additional assistant referee all briefly conferred to agree that Melbourne Victory player Matthieu Del Pierre, who was in an offside position, interfered with the goalkeeper Ante Covic, by clearly obstructing his line of vision.

Victory v Glory offside.

Victory v Glory offside.

Newcastle Jets vs Western Sydney Wanderers.

And so to Sunday. In the 73rd minute, the assistant referee raised his flag after a goal was scored by Enver Alivodic. The assistant believed that Milos Trifunovic was in an offside position and that Alivodic was in an onside position. When the referee confirmed that Alivodic was the goalscorer, the assistant referee said that the goal should be awarded.

The camera is not in line with the second last defender. This means that the position of Alivodic in relation to the second last defender is extremelydifficult to determine from the footage. The screenshots below show that Nikolai Topor-Stanley has his leg well behind the line between the light green and dark green grass. No Newcastle Jets attackers are in an offside position. Alivodic is standing on the light green grass and has no part of his body nearer to the goal line than Topor-Stanley’s leg, circled below. Although this is difficult to see from the camera angles available, this would have been clearly visible to the assistant referee who was looking directly across the line towards Topor-Stanley.

The process to raise the flag was untidy – neither Alivodic or Trifunovic were in offside positions – and this created confusion amongst players, fans and commentators.

However, ultimately the decision to award a goal was correct.

Jets  v WSW offside.

Jets v WSW offside

Hyundai A-League assistant referees correctly interpret all of their offside decisions in 93% of matches. Assistant referees around the country practice decisions like these every week. They train with video cameras directly behind them and benefit from the instant feedback provided in these sessions from our coaches. Incidents this weekend again show that although it’s not an easy job, their decision making continues to be very good.