QATAR — Todd Ballings, a FIFA referee representing U.S. rule keepers in the 2022 World Cup, is reported to have quietly pulled aside an assistant referee to see if they thought it was too late to admit he doesn't know what offsides is.
Though the exchange took place far from cameras, it was caught on a hot mic. "I see other people calling for it and I don't get it," he said. "Is it a good thing?"
According to sources, Ballings, who had been helping judge Thursday's match between Japan and Spain, was pulled off the pitch during halftime so the rule could be explained to him. Ballings repeatedly stopped his colleagues, asking where the "offsides line" was.
According to FIFA's official rule book, a player is offsides if "he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent."
Fans in attendance overheard Ballings yell, "The line can't just keep moving based on the last defender. That makes no sense!" The frustrated referee then began ranting about how football would be a better game if it eliminated rules that kept slowing the game down.
Ballings returned to the game for the second half but admitted he still didn't get it.
At publishing time, Japan was up 2 to 1 against Spain because Ballings had refused to call offsides ever again.
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