Swedish club contact Ifab after finding loophole in offside law | Soccer

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A club from the Swedish third tier have provoked a philosophical debate with football’s rule-makers after devising a cunning way to defeat the offside law.

Torns IF compete in the southern league of the Ettan Fotboll in Sweden and have a modest history. Their home of Stångby has an estimated population of just 2,000 people. But their creative use of social media has enabled them to cause a stir.

A short video posted on social media shows the Torns head coach, Richard Ringhov, studying the latest version of the offside law in his office.

The law states that a decision on whether a player is offside or not is taken at the “first point of contact” of the pass leading to the player, not when the ball leaves the foot of the passer. This is an innovation brought about by the advent of VAR and is of interest to Ringhov; soon enough, he is coaching his players to scoop the ball up with their feet and hold it in mid-air.

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The idea behind Ringhov’s thinking is simple: if the moment of offside passes as soon as the passer touches the ball then, as long as he keeps the ball in the crook of his foot, his teammates are free to advance as far up the field as they like before receiving it. In the video, Ringhov’s players rehearse such a move and it works perfectly, until the striker blazes his shot wide of the goal.

In a thread subsequently posted online, Torns reveal they have since contacted the International Football Association Board (Ifab), football’s global rule-making body, seeking clarification over whether their innovation was “in accordance with the rules”. According to Torns, the answer might be yes.

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The Torns account recounts what it claims to be Ifab’s responses to their query. “This is amusing and interesting! In terms of the ‘spirit’ of the Law this is obviously offside and, in terms of the Law itself, the ‘balancing’ of the ball on the foot is a different ‘play’ from the movement which gives the ball momentum to move,” reads one message.

Torns go on to question when such a movement might begin and end and whether, in the case of a scooped pass, the final point of contact might be the pertinent one for any referee. Ifab’s response, as posted by Torns, was to “review if the wording of Law 11 need changing in light of this ‘theoretical’ situation”.

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Time will only tell if the unheralded Swedes have brought about a revolution in the game equivalent to Cuahtémoc Blanco’s bunny hop, or whether they have simply put their players at greater risk of being scythed down for impertinence by opposing defenders. Either way, it has put Torns on the map.

Ifab has been approached for comment.

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