Was Ramsey Offside? (Arsenal vs. Liverpool)

Short answer? Yes. Absolutely, demonstrably, yes.

Now, most pundits, as well as referee Graham Poll, say that Ramsey was not offside and that the goal should have stood. They have years and years of experience behind them, but I have geometry and video evidence and there’s really no questioning it: Ramsey was slightly, but unquestionably, offside.

Let’s use the (regrettably low-res) still from the Daily Mail:


This shot is presented as evidence that Ramsey is onside. He appears to be directly level with Liverpool defender Martin Skrtel (or at least Skrtel’s rear end.) Appearances, however, can be deceiving. The lines on the pitch are parallel, but because the camera doesn’t line up with any of them, it’s tricky to determine exactly who is where in relation to each other. For example, the Arsenal player in the foreground appears to be further towards the Arsenal goal than the player on the ball. But…notice that the player on the ball is to the left of the line on the pitch, while the player in the foreground is to the right of it.

In this case, perspective is everything.

Here’s a crop of the area near Aaron Ramsey, blown up 400%. This makes for a lousy image, but it’s better for our purposes:


It still looks as though Ramsey is barely onside and if one didn’t both to correct for perspective, one might think the linesman got it wrong. But how to correct for perspective? I’m going to use the easiest, ugliest way possible. First let’s select the unoccupied area at the bottom of the image.


This is a section of the penalty box line. It is exactly the same angle as the line at the top of the penalty box. Now, let’s hastily and sloppily remove most of the grass:


This is the angle of the line we should be using to determine Ramsey’s position relative to Skrtel. Actually, it should be a little more severe since Skrtel and Ramsey are further away from the center of the camera than the penalty box line, but it’s by a pretty negligible amount. Now, all we need to do is paste this line between Skrtel and Ramsey:


First of all, note that this line is exactly parallel to the penalty box line. The inside of the line touches Skrtel’s rightmost point (nope, I’m not gonna say it.) Then notice that the inside of the line hits Ramsey is to the left or Ramsey’s rightmost point. His shoulder, and part of his chest, are closer to the goal than any part of Skrtel. Let’s go ahead and draw a thin red line and extend it just to be sure:


A line parallel to the penalty box, drawn from the tip of Martin’s Skrtel’s buttocks, goes right through Aaron Ramsey and actually hits him about where his neck meets his shoulder. Based on the photo on the Daily Mail site, Aaron Ramsey is offside.

The reason I chose this simple method was because it’s super-easy to reproduce. I didn’t do anything to create the result I was aiming for. Anyone could do the same thing, and they’d come up with the same result.

Or, if you were lazy, just skew the image 12 degrees to the right to make the penalty box line a vertical line, then drop a vertical line on Skrtel’s kop end:


Same result. Ramsey is slightly offside. Honestly, it’s so close, I don’t know how a linesman could be expected to get it right. I don’t think either club could seriously argue the call. It’s really that close. But, so many people are piling on about the call being “wrong” that I just wanted to point out that the evidence says otherwise: The linesman got it right; Poll and others got it wrong. Ramsey is offside.

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