Soccer has relied on human judgment to decide whether or not a player is offside for as long as we can remember, but is this system efficient in this day and age? In soccer, where each and every goal is so important, offsides has incorrectly been called on many occasions and has changed the outcomes of various extremely important games at both the domestic and international level. While a very high percentage of offside calls are called correctly, it seems like almost every time it is incorrectly called, it completely changes the game. Recently FIFA has implemented new rules and procedures to the game that I believe to have benefited the game without stopping play. The first change is goal-line technology which will vibrate the referee’s watch if the ball crosses the goal-line. This system has helped referee make crucial calls from potentially problematic angles. The second change has been the vanishing spray used for free kicks, which in my opinion has successful stopped players in the wall from creeping forward toward the ball. Yes, it has added a few seconds during each free kick, but it has helped monitor the wall to allow players to have a fair chance of taking free kicks.
A new system that I believe would not only help correctly call offsides, but also make the game more exciting would be the implementation of a tracking system to call offsides. While I am not sure if the technology I am proposing is yet possible or would be cost effective enough to use, this is an idea I firmly believe would benefit soccer in the future. The first part of the system would be to create something that would be able to accurately track player’s physical position on the pitch with wireless technology. There are currently systems being developed, like this one, that have would be able to track each player’s position; however, it may not be accurate enough yet to make each call correctly. The second part of the system would be to give each player a bracelet to wear while playing the game. What exactly would this bracelet do? The bracelet would have a chip inside that would be communicate with the wireless system to further improve the accuracy. It would be important to make the bracelet of soft and safe material so that it doesn’t injure players. I debated whether it would better to place the bracelet on a player’s ankle or wrist. This is where the new rule could make the game more interesting. By placing the bracelets on a player’s wrist, the forwards and defenders would have a cat and mouse type game of strategically holding their arm back or forward to stay onside or draw a player offside. The purpose of the offsides rule is to keep players from cherry picking around the goal. Therefore, even if a player was just an arm-length in front of the defender he would not be cherry picking and it would make the game more exciting. If the bracelet were to be placed on the ankle, it would track offsides in a more traditional sense as it would be harder to stick out your leg when in a full sprint. The placement of the bracelet is something worth debating and should be tested at lower divisions of soccer before making a decision.