This edition of "Laws of the Game -Clarified" will focus on a high profile incident that sparked off a major debate in the National Football League.
In the NFL Div 1 title deciding match between Singapore Cricket Club (SCC) and Singapore Recreation Club (SRC), the game was tied at 1-1 when a major controversial moment happened.
SCC Forward Andrew Hutcheon was fouled in the box but the ball spilled into the path of an onrushing Nahar Daud (SCC's other striker) who immediately took a shot. The shot rebounded off Andrew, who was still lying on the ground from the foul.
The rebounded effort made its way into the goal, but then came the tricky problem. Andrew Hutcheon was in an off-side position!
The referee awarded the goal, 2-1 to SCC and SCC eventually won the game by that scoreline to lift the NFL Div 1 title.
Was the referee correct in awarding the goal?
Referring to the FIFA Laws of the Game Hand Book, Law 11 - Offside:
A player in an offside position should be penalized for the offense if he is "interfering with play".
“interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate
In this case, Andrew Hutcheon should definitely have been penalized for offside and the goal should never have been awarded since he was "interfering with play" while in an offside position, regardless of whether he's down on the ground or not.
It is also important to note that the referee had chosen to "play the advantage" since he decided not to whistle for a penalty when Andrew was fouled, upon seeing that the ball had fallen back into SCC"s possession.
One can argue that the referee can choose to pull the play back and award a penalty since there was no real advantage, but this would be entirely up to the referee's discretion on whether the shot taken by Nahar in itself was already an advantage.
In any case, awarding the goal was definitely an erroneous call and indeed a major decision that decided the NFL Div 1 title.
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