Football Ferns defender CJ Bott said the offside call that ruled out a goal in the Capital would not have been a game-changing moment had the team finished some of their many other chances throughout the match.
New Zealand fell 1-0 to 46th-ranked Philippines in match two of their Fifa Women’s World Cup campaign, after dominating 70 percent of possession.
After conceding in the first half, there was a moment of hope midway through the second, when Jacqui Hand headed the ball into the net to equalise.
But, after a full Video Assistant Referee (VAR) check, Hannah Wilkinson was ruled to be slightly offside when receiving a long pass earlier in the movement, leaving the team – and the sold-out Wellington crowd – to fall back to Earth.
Bott said it was “a tough pill to swallow”.
While Wilkinson’s feet were onside, the striker’s head and a shoulder were inches offside.
FIFA’s rules state that a player will be called for offside “at the time the ball is touched or played by one of [their] teammates.” Every inch of a player’s head, body or feet must be in front of the last defender when the ball is passed to them.
At the World Cup, the regulations state: “Video assistant referee (VAR) systems and other forms of technology for reviewing match changing incidents (e.g. semi-automated offside technology) may be used for reviewing match-changing decisions/incidents.”
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“The freaking foot is miles off it,” Bott said as reporters showed her a replay of the call. “I hate that offside rule, but it is what it is – that’s the rules of the game.”
The 28-year-old said during that minute of celebrating there was a sense among the team that they were still in the game.
“It was kind of kind of a sigh of relief when we finished that goal because we knew we could have won that game – and we should have won that game.
“It was definitely a gutting moment to have that ruled off side.”
Coach Jitka Klimkova said the result was “heartbreaking” but said she would focus on elements of the game she could control and acknowledged the offside call was a decision for the match officials to make.
”It’s a decision of the referees,” said the coach. “I’m focusing as a team on things that I can control.”
She paid tribute to the build-up play and Hand’s excellent execution to find the back of the net. “It was an incredible goal – it was an amazing goal.
“It was disallowed, so that’s just a call of the referees.
“Tonight it was heartbreaking, I could see tears in our eyes,” Klimkova said of the defeat.
Midfielder Malia Steinmetz said she got a glimpse of the offside on the big screen as her teammates celebrated and she wondered if the referee was considering whether Wilkinson’s shoulder was offside.
”Obviously that’s just part of the game,” Steinmetz said, saying her team had to solider through the difficulty. ”I think we tried our best to just get back into it, and we nearly got one back so props to us. But just at the end of the day, we didn’t get it.”
Bonnie Jansen is a Multimedia Journalist in the NZME Sports team. She’s a keen footballer and has worked with the Alternative Commentary Collective before joining the Te Rito cadetship scheme.