Offside rule scrapped? Hashtag United trial Marco van Basten's idea in fascinating game

  • Kobe Tong

Who needs the offside rule, right?

We've all been there: launching our sofa at the television screen because VAR ruled out our star striker for daring to lean their armpit hair beyond the second-last defender. It's infuriating, I know.

But even before the days of technology splitting hairs by, erm, splitting hairs, we've all had our hearts broken by the assistant referee raising their flag when we were convinced a player was onside.

Football without offsides?!

However, let's face it, offsides are a tent pole of the footballing laws we've watched from our living rooms and even practised on local playing fields since we were half the height of a corner flag.

But believe it or not, there is a faction of football supporters, pundits and legends who wouldn't be adverse to scrapping the offside rule and Dutch icon Marco van Basten is one such campaigner.

Speaking to Sky Sports in March, the Ballon d'Or winner mused: "I am still very curious about the offside rule because I am convinced that it is not a good rule.


Van Basten supports the idea

"At least I would like to trial it to show that football is also possible without the offside rule. I am convinced that football would be better without it.

"Football is a fantastic game but I still think that we have to do much more to make it better, more spectacular, more interesting, more exciting. We have to work on that."

It's pretty hard to argue with that, Marco, but would scrapping the offside rule lead to high-scoring, kinetic games of football or actually more tedious ones by way of the defence dropping so far back?


Experimental match without offsides

A tough question to answer, it must be said, but true to Van Basten's call for the idea to be trialled, the team at Hashtag United put on a fascinating experimental match to test the hypothesis.

The well-known Non-League club birthed by YouTuber 'SpencerFC' organised a friendly match featuring both male and female players with an equal split across the two squads.

And seeing what happened with the offside rule in the bin was simply fascinating, especially when you consider that the game descended into an entertaining 16-goal thriller. Check it out below:

My love for the fact they still hired linespeople for the match is endless.

Crazy 9-7 scoreline

But away from the sheer novelty of the game, I'm inclined to think that it actually gives substance to Van Basten's idea because the match wasn't as radically different as you might have imagined.

In fact, it wasn't really until the opening strike of the second half that the lack of offsides indisputably led to a goal with the purple team's number ten lurking a good five yards behind the defence.

Besides, beyond the odd moment of goal-hanging, the altered rules largely meant that the two back fours dropped incredibly deep to prevent long balls over the top basically being cheat codes.


Obviously, in terms of this particular game, that did nothing to hamper the entertainment because if 9-7 scorelines are going to become commonplace, then we're all for it.

But in a world where the quality is ramped up from Non-League and fourth-tier football, would we be left with tedious chess matches where teams are accidentally parking the bus?

Truth be told, I have absolutely no idea, but it's only through trials that we'll get close to understanding and credit to Hashtag United for putting on such a fascinating experimental match. It wasn't dull, that's for sure.

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