A new football-themed 50p coin designed to ease confusion around the offside law has been written off as “totally out of date” and “confusing” by refereeing experts.
The design, unveiled on Wednesday, is one of 29 coins produced to commemorate the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, each featuring a different sport.
The football coin — half a million of which are now in circulation — shows a midfielder about to pass to one of two team-mates, with the first player, on the left, marked as offside, and the second, level with the defender, not offside. But the diagram appears to illustrate the offside law as it was until 1995, when it was overhauled by the International FA Board to reduce the number of stoppages in matches.
The revision to the law meant that any player in an offside position when the ball is played is no longer automatically penalised. It states: “It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.” Instead, for the past 17 years assistant referees have been told to wait and see whether a player in an offside position becomes involved in active play, either by "interfering with play, or interfering with an opponent, or by gaining an advantage by being in that position". That means that if the midfielder on the coin passes to the striker on his left, but the striker chooses not to play the ball or interfere with an opponent, he is not offside and play continues.