In a move that could change the landscape of football, FIFA has given the green light to a new offside rule that could have significant implications for strikers like Napoli’s Victor Osimhen. The latest addition to FIFA’s arsenal of rules aims to enhance the accuracy of offside decisions while also optimizing the time taken by referees and their assistants to confirm an offside position.
Under the existing rule, a player is penalised for being in an offside position if any part of their body extends beyond the last defender, even by a few millimeters towards the goal. However, the new rule introduces a pivotal change. To be deemed offside, an attacker’s entire body must be positioned ahead of the defender, rather than just a few millimeters.
According to Direct TV Sports, FIFA will commence testing this new offside law starting this year, initially implementing it in Sweden. The European nation has confirmed its adoption of the rule in the men’s under-21 and women’s under-19 leagues. Italy and the Netherlands will follow suit, as FIFA analyses the matches in which the new rule is applied and fine-tunes the details before a global rollout.
This new FIFA offside rule is likely to work in Osimhen’s favour. His knack for playing on the shoulder of the last defender could now be better rewarded with the revised interpretation of offside, granting him greater opportunities to excel. Osimhen claimed the top spot on the Serie A goalscorers’ chart last season with an impressive tally of 26 goals to become the first African to achieve this feat. His goals were instrumental in propelling Napoli to their first Scudetto title in 33 years.
Osimhen’s remarkable form could have resulted in even more goals last season. In addition to his high offside count, the Nigerian forward struck the woodwork five times, more than any other player in the Italian topflight. Should Osimhen remain in Italy when the new FIFA offside rule takes effect, the Napoli striker could become the first Nigerian forward to score 30 or more goals in any of Europe’s top five leagues. Such an achievement might just be enough to clinch the coveted European Golden Shoe award, opening a historic chapter for Nigerian football.