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, Soccernet.ng reports.
FIFA, known for its willingness to embrace changes in the sport, has introduced various advancements in recent years, such as VAR and revised rules for handball and other plays.
The New FIFA Rule: A Game-Changer
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. It is not clear yet when Serie A will adopt the new rule.
Osimhen’s Prospects: A Cause for Joy
Victor 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.
However, the 24-year-old forward also ranked among the players caught offside most frequently during the 2022/2023 season, placing second only to Italian striker Francesco Caputo.
Osimhen’s style of play often sees him positioned just beyond the last defender, resulting in 32 instances of being caught offside in Serie A last term. Many of those were close calls.
The 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’s European Golden Shoe Aspirations
The European Golden Shoe, also known as the European Golden Boot, is an esteemed award presented each season to the top goalscorer in league matches from the highest division of a European national league.
No Nigerian or African player has ever won this prestigious accolade.
Manchester City’s Erling Haaland secured the honour in the just-concluded season after netting an impressive 36 goals.
Osimhen, with 26 goals to his name, finished fifth overall, trailing behind Harry Kane (30 goals), Kylian Mbappe (29), and Alexandre Lacazette (27).
It is worth noting that 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. His compatriot Cyriel Dessers came close with four shots hitting the crossbar.
Osimhen also recorded the most shots off target (50) and the most shots on target (55) throughout Serie A.
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.