German lower-league clubs play football match without offside rule

Two German fifth-tier clubs have contested a football match without the use of the offside rule.

There have occasionally been suggestions that the offside rule should be abolished, most prominently when former FIFA president Sepp Blatter met with hockey officials in 2010, 12 years after the offside rule ceased to exist in that sport.

German football magazine 11 Freunde invited two fifth-tier teams from Berlin, Hertha 03 Zehlendorf and Tennis Borussia Berlin, to play a match without the offside rule over two 30-minute halves.

The magazine also invited an official referee, Huseyin Erol Ozadali, and independent experts including Helmut Schulte, the sporting director of second-tier club Union Berlin.

Tennis Borussia hoped to win the match by completely abandoning the midfield, keeping one player in attack and defending around an imaginary circle.

"We'll do it like in handball," Tennis Borussia coach Daniel Volbert said.

Hertha 03 wanted to use the space by pushing the full-backs high up the field, as has been popular in hockey since the offside rule was scrapped in 1998.

Neither approach was highly successful, with Christoph Biermann of 11 Freunde telling Deutschlandfunk that "the game with offside is firmly established, and permanently worked in the head."

Biermann, however, noted that the match was end-to-end rather than a tight midfield battle.

The match resulted in a 1-0 win for Hertha 03, who scored in the opening stages from what would have been an offside position.

"You are torn apart if you should consider this for the future," Schulte, who was previously for scrapping the rule, said after the match. "It was less spectacular than expected."

Hertha 03 coach Markus Schatte noted that too many long passes were played.

"It wouldn't be in my sense because I favour the short-pass game," he said.