Fifty-one female officials today received the news they have been working towards for four years; the news that they have been selected to officiate at the FIFA Women's World Cup Germany 2011™.

The FIFA Referees Committee, under the chairmanship of Ángel María Villar Llona, has appointed 16 referees, 32 Assistant Referees, and three referees who will serve exclusively as Fourth Officials during the competition between 26 June and 17 July.

The road to the 2011 FIFA Women’s World Cup began shortly after the conclusion of the FIFA Women’s World Cup China 2007. The International List containing over 500 female officials was cut down to 110 by the end of 2010, prior to the final selection process.

To determine which officials would travel to Germany this summer, FIFA embarked on a comprehensive programme. This has seen officials from across FIFA’s six confederations monitored and assessed at domestic, continental and international competitions, as well as through a series of practical and interactive training sessions. The officials have also been tested regularly for fitness, refereeing technique, as well as competency in the lingua franca of international refereeing (English), most recently by FIFA at the Algarve Cup tournament last month.

Sonia Denoncourt, Senior Refereeing Manager at FIFA has overseen the preparation of the officials, and was herself a referee at the 1995, 1999 and 2003 FIFA Women’s World Cups and 1996 and 2000 Olympic Football Tournaments.

“A lot of these officials have sacrificed careers or starting a family to achieve their dream of working at a World Cup so to receive this confirmation is a just reward for all their hard work” said Denoncourt.

“The difference in support structures and tools now for the officials is far removed from 1995 when the majority of the officials were men, with just six female officials on the final list, including myself.

“Of this year’s final list, many of them have officiated at either a World Cup or Olympic Games before and with the support of technical staff, fitness instructors, physiotherapists and sport psychologists, we have done everything possible to ensure they are at the top of their game coming into the competition. This is what we want, but of course what the teams want too.”

For all the officials, their participation in Germany will be subject to one final fitness test to be held in Frankfurt approximately a week before the first match on 26 June in Berlin’s Olympiastadion.Offside position
The blue forward on the left of the diagram is in an offside position as he is in front of both the second-to-last defender (marked by the dotted line) and the ball. Note that this does not necessarily mean he is committing an offside offence; it only becomes an offence if the ball were to be played to him at this moment, whether or not he is in an offside position when he receives the ball, as he could receive the ball in an onside position but he'd still have committed an offside offence.
The blue forward in the penalty box of the diagram is not in an offside position, as he is behind the ball, despite the fact that he is in front of all but one of his opponents.

A player is in an offside position if three conditions are met: first, the player must be on the opposing team's half of the field. Second, the player must be in front of the ball. And third, there must be fewer than two opposing players between him and the opposing goal line, with the goalkeeper counting as an opposing player for these purposes. It is not necessary that the goalkeeper be one of the last two opponents. Any attacker that is level with or behind the ball is not in an offside position and may never be sanctioned for an offside offence. IFAB has clarified in the 2009–2010 Laws of the Game that a player temporarily off the field of play is considered to be ON the boundary line at the point that he crossed over the boundary line.[1]

The 2005 edition of the Laws of the Game included a new International Football Association Board decision that stated being "nearer to an opponent's goal line" meant that "any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent (the last opponent typically being the goalkeeper). The arms are not included in this definition."[2] This is taken to mean that any part of the attacking player named in this decision has to be past the part of the second-last defender closest to his goal line (excluding the arms) and past the part of the ball closest to the defenders' goal line.

Regardless of position, there is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from a corner kick, goal kick, or throw-in. However, an offside offence may occur if a player receives the ball directly from either a direct free kick or an indirect free kick.
[edit] Offside offence

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is touched or played by a team-mate is only committing an offside offence if, in the opinion of the referee, he becomes actively involved in play by:

Interfering with play
Playing or touching the ball
Interfering with an opponent
Preventing the opponent from playing the ball by obstructing the player's sight or intentionally distracting the opponent
Gaining an advantage by being in an offside position
Playing the ball after the ball has rebounded off the goal, the goalkeeper, or any opponent[3]

Since offside is judged at the time the ball is touched or played by a team-mate, not when the player receives the ball, it is possible for a player to receive the ball significantly past the second-to-last defender, or even the last defender (typically the goalkeeper).

Determining whether a player is in "active play" can be complex. FIFA issued new guidelines for interpreting the offside law in 2003 and these were incorporated in Law XI in July 2005. The new wording seeks to define the three cases more precisely.

Controversy regarding offside decisions often arises from assessment of what movements a player in an offside position can make without being judged to be interfering with an opponent. Bill Shankly made a famous quote: "If a player is not interfering with play or seeking to gain an advantage, then he should be!" This quote exemplifies why IFAB had to clarify what "gaining an advantage" means, as referees all over the world were considering almost anything as an advantage.
[edit] Offside sanction

The restart for an offside sanction is an indirect free kick for the opponents where the offside-positioned player was when the ball was played or touched by a teammate. This is defined as where the infringement took place.
[edit] Officiating
An assistant referee signals for offside.

In enforcing this rule, the referee depends greatly on an assistant referee, who generally keeps in line with the second-to-last defender, the ball, or the halfway line, whichever is closer to the goal line of his relevant end. An assistant referee signals that an offside offence has occurred by first raising his or her flag upright without movement and then, when acknowledged by the referee, by raising his or her flag in a manner that signifies the location of the offence:

* Flag pointed downwards: offence has occurred in the third of the pitch nearest to the assistant referee;
* Flag horizontal to the ground: offence has occurred in the middle third of the pitch;
* Flag pointed upwards: offence has occurred in the third of the pitch furthest from the assistant referee.

The assistant referees' task with regards to offside can be difficult, as they need to keep up with attacks and counter-attacks, consider which players are in an offside position when the ball is played, and then determine whether and when the offside-positioned players become involved in active play. The risk of false judgement is further increased by the foreshortening effect, which occurs when the distance between the attacking player and the assistant referee is significantly different from the distance to the defending player, and the assistant referee is not directly in line with the defender. The difficulty of offside officiating is often underestimated by spectators. Trying to judge if a player is level with an opponent at the moment the ball is kicked is not easy: if an attacker and a defender are running in opposite directions, they can be two metres apart in a tenth of a second.

Some researchers believe that offside officiating errors are "optically inevitable".[4] It has been argued that human beings and technological media are incapable of accurately detecting an offside position quickly enough to make a timely decision.[5] Sometimes it simply is not possible to keep all the relevant players in the visual field at once.[6] There have been some proposals for automated enforcement of the offside rule.[7]
[edit] History

Offside rules date back to codes of football developed at English public schools in the early nineteenth century. These offside rules were often much stricter than that in the modern game. In some of them, a player was "off his side" if he was standing in front of the ball. This was similar to the current offside law in rugby, which penalises any player between the ball and the opponent's goal. By contrast, the original Sheffield Rules had no offside rule, and players known as "kick-throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents' goal.

In 1848, HC Malden held a meeting at his Trinity College, Cambridge rooms, that addressed the problem. Representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury schools attended, each bringing their own set of rules. They sat down a little after 4pm and, by five to midnight, had drafted what is thought to be the first set of "Cambridge Rules". Malden is quoted as saying how "very satisfactorily they worked".

Unfortunately no copy of these 1848 rules exists today, but they are thought to have included laws governing throw-ins, goal-kicks, halfway line markings, re-starts, holding and pushing (which were outlawed) and offside. They even allowed for a string to be used as a cross bar.

A set of rules dated 1856 was discovered, over a hundred years later, in the library of Shrewsbury School. It is probably closely modelled on the Cambridge Rules and is thought to be the oldest set still in existence. Rule No. 9 required more than three defensive players to be ahead of an attacker who plays the ball. The rule states:

If the ball has passed a player and has come from the direction of his own goal, he may not touch it till the other side have kicked it, unless there are more than three of the other side before him. No player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries' goal.

As football developed in the 1860s and 1870s, the offside law proved the biggest argument between the clubs. Sheffield got rid of the "kick-throughs" by amending their laws so that one member of the defending side was required between a forward player and the opponents' goal. The Football Association also compromised slightly and eased the Cambridge idea of "more than three" (i.e. four opponents) to at "least three" (i.e. three opponents). Finally, Sheffield came into line with the F.A., and "three opponents" became the rule until 1925.

The change to the "two opponents" rule led to an immediate increase in goal-scoring. 4,700 goals were scored in 1,848 Football League games in 1924–25. This number rose to 6,373 goals (from the same number of games) in 1925–26.

Throughout the 1987–88 season, the GM Vauxhall Conference was used to test an experimental rule change, whereby no attacker could be offside directly from a free-kick. This change was not deemed a success, as the attacking team could pack the penalty area for any free-kick (or even have several players stand in front of the opposition goalkeeper) and the rule change was not introduced at a higher level.

In 1990 the law was amended to adjudge an attacker as onside if level with the second-to-last opponent. This change was part of a general movement by the game's authorities to make the rules more conducive to attacking football and help the game to flow more freely.[8]
[edit] Offside trap

The offside trap is a defensive tactic designed to "trap" the attacking team into an offside position, pioneered in the early twentieth century by Notts County[9] and later adopted by influential Argentinian coach Osvaldo Zubeldía.[10] When an attacking player is making a run up the field with a team-mate ready to kick the ball up to him, all the defenders (except the goalkeeper) will move up-field in a relatively straight line in order to put the attacker behind them just before the ball is kicked, hence putting the attacker in an offside position at the moment when the ball is kicked.

The use of the trap can be a risky strategy as all defenders (except the goalkeeper) have to move up together in a relatively straight line, otherwise attacking players will not be in an offside position as long as the goalkeeper and one other defender are between them and the goal line. If the offside trap fails, the attacking players will have an almost clear run towards the goal. The 2003 rule changes have made it even more perilous as a tactic, since the definition of active play was made more stringent. Thus, teams attempting an offside trap are less likely to have an offside offence called when they have caught a player in an offside position, if he is deemed by the referee not to be in active play.What's The Stadium Like?
Well it may have been late in opening and over budget, but the new stadium has certainly been worth the wait and the extra expenditure. To say that it looks superb, is really an understatement. 'Fantastic', 'tremendous', such words probably still don't do it enough justice. But what is really great about the stadium, is that it has its own individual identity and character. From the moment you see the Arch towering over the stadium in the distance, then you know that this is going to be something special, and special it is. Plus unlike a number of other stadiums around the world that host a number of sporting events including football, Wembley is primarily for football and is the home of the England team. No wonder that it is labelled the 'Home of Football'.

The old Wembley closed its doors in 2000 and was due to re-open in August 2005, but delays meant that the new stadium was not ready until March 2007. Designed by Foster & Partners and HOK Sport, the stadium which was built by Multiplex cost £737m to construct.

The stadium is totally enclosed and comprises three tiers, with both sides of the stadium being slightly larger than the ends. These sides are semi circular in construction and although on a larger scale are reminiscent of the similar designs at the Emirates & City Of Manchester Stadiums. Both these side stands large upper and lower tiers, with a smaller middle tier sandwiched in-between. This middle tier overhangs the large lower tier and has a row of executive boxes at the back of it. At each end there is a large video screen, which is moulded into the third and hence is an integral part of the stadium. The stadium has a complicated looking roof, that initially appears retractable and could if necessary be used to enclose the stadium from the outside elements. However, just over one third can be moved, so that the pitch will always be open to the elements. Unlike the old stadium whereby the players would enter the field of play from a tunnel at one end, the players now enter the field in the conventional way, onto the half way line from the North Stand, where the Royal Box is situated..

The most striking external feature of the stadium is 'The Arch', towering some 133 metres above it. It comprises of white tubular steel, that can be seen for many miles across London and looks particularly spectacular at night when it is lit up. Oddly you can't see much of the Arch from inside the stadium. It does though have a practical use in being a load bearing support frame for the roofs of the stands. It reminds me of some sort of theme park ride and I half expect to see people being propelled over it.... now that would be interesting to watch at half time!

A bronze statue of Bobby Moore, is situated in front of the stadium. The legendary England World Cup winner, gazes down on fans coming up Wembley Way.

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The Wembley Stadium Arch

Wembley Stadium - Photo Of The Arch

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What Is It Like For Supporters?

Seeing Wembley for the first time, you can't help but be impressed with the sheer quality of the place. From escalators to transport fans up to the top tier to the 'landscaped concourse, you can see that no expense has been spared. Although not the most generous of leg room that I have come across, it is still more than adequate and there is good height between rows. Add to this that there literally is not a bad seat in the house (even seats at the very top of the upper tier have excellent views) and with the roofs of the stadium being situated very close to the crowd, then a full house should generate an excellent atmosphere. The top tier (Level 5) is particularly steep, which may cause a few to be a bit short of breadth as they reach the top, but at least this angle ensures that the spectators are kept as close to the playing action as they possibly can be.

Whereas most concourses in new stadiums so far built in this country are normally rather drab affairs, with a combination of breeze blocks and cladded piping, being predominantly on view, at Wembley it is different. For once someone has had the vision to hide these ugly features, with timber rafting and well positioned lighting, giving a modern stylish look. Apparently there is one refreshment till per 100 spectators in the stadium. Whether that is a good or bad ratio, in terms of queuing times, remains to be seen. The catering is provided by the same American company who also supply and run the catering at Arsenal. Prices have always been historically expensive at Wembley and the new stadium certainly follows in the tradition here; Various pies £4.60 (which although expensive are excellent), Stonebaked Pizza £4.30, Bockwurst Hot Dog £4.20, Mexican style Nachos (£4.50), Chicken Dippers (£6), plus you can have a Pie & Pint for £8.30. The concourses themselves are mostly fairly spacious, have betting facilities provided by BetFred, a number of flat screened televisions, as well as a programme (nicely put in a carrier bag for you to carry home) and merchandise outlets.

For England International games, away supporters are housed in part of the lower tier of the East Stand.

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Looking Towards The East Stand

Photo Looking Towards The East Stand

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Where To Drink?

There are not many pubs located close to the stadium. The few pubs that are close by such as; J.J. Moons (Wetherspsoon), the Green Man (both near Wembley Stadium station) and the Torch (near Wembley Park tube station), are usually heaving many hours before kick off. In addition, I should point out that most of the pubs mentioned above will designate themselves as only allowing entrance to their premises for fans of one club or another who are playing at Wembley on that day. So if you intend going early and intend visiting one of these pubs, I would recomend telephoning them in advance to check whether your team's supporters are being allowed admittance.

Most fans tend to either drink in the centre of London before the game, or have drink near one of the London Underground stations located north of the stadium such as Harrow on the Hill or further afield such as Watford Junction or Ruislip. I have tended to drink in Harrow on the Hill, which is three stops away from Wembley Park on the tube and has a handy Wetherspoons and an O'Neills outlet, plus a number of other pubs and eating outlets. The good thing too is that if you park out in this direction, then after the game you are heading way from the masses who are normally heading back in the direction of Central London. Alternatively, alcohol is sold within the stadium in the form of; Carling, Carlsberg, Tetley's (all £4.30 a pint), Red & White wine (187ml bottle £4.50), Smirnoff Ice (275ml bottle £4.50) and various spirits (pre-mixed £5.50).

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How To Get There And Where To Park
The stadium is labelled as a 'public transport' destination. There is little parking available at the stadium itself and there is also a residents only parking scheme in operation in the local area. The stadium is well signposted from the end of the M1 & M40. Basically the stadium is just off the A406 North Circular Road.

Map showing the location of Wembley Stadium (takes you to the Streetmap website).

See also the Google map showing the area around Wembley Stadium at the bottom of this page.

I would recommend parking at one of the tube stations at the end of the Metropolitan line such as Uxbridge, Hillingdon or Ruislip or at Stanmore on the Jubilee line and then take the tube to Wembley Park.

London Underground tube map (takes you to the Transport For London website).

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The East & South Stands

Photo of East & South Stands

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By Train/Tube

The nearest tube station is Wembley Park which is around a ten minute walk from the stadium. This is served by both the Jubilee & Metropolitan lines, although it is best to take the latter as it has less stops. Wembley Central is slightly further away from the stadium and has both rail & underground connections. This underground station is served by the Bakerloo line, whilst the railway station is on the London Euston-Milton Keynes line. The nearest train station is Wembley Stadium which is on the London Marylebone-Birmingham line.

Neil Iwanicki informs me; 'My tip for avoiding matchday congestion when going to Wembley is to park up at Hillingdon tube station, just off the A40 on the way into Central London. But instead of getting the Metropolitan line to Wembley Park station, get the Piccadilly line to Sudbury Town station, which is much quieter, and take the 15-20 minute stroll to the stadium via the Harrow Road/High Road. This takes you past Barham Park and Wembley Central station on the way to the ground, and has a few fast-food outlets and a number of decent pubs along the way. It also hugely convenient for getting away from the stadium quickly after the match.'



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