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By ESPN Staff
Dec 28, 2007

FIFA at fault for offside confusion - Hughes

Blackburn manager Mark Hughes has blamed FIFA for the confusion surrounding his side's debatable late equaliser against Manchester City.

Blackburn were 2-1 down at Eastlands with six minutes remaining when Roque Santa Cruz headed home his second goal of the game.

But the goal was shrouded in controversy as assistant referee Darren Cann had initially flagged for offside as David Dunn was in an offside position when David Bentley's cross came in.

Although Dunn jumped for the ball he did not make contact, so Cann felt he did not interfere with play and reversed his decision.

Hughes feels Cann ultimately made the right decision but would prefer the offside rule not being open to interpretation.

The former Manchester United striker criticised FIFA for creating a 'grey area' in the law and has called for the world governing body to clarify the rule.

'It came down from FIFA and (president) Sepp Blatter to make the game more open and benefit strikers, but it makes the assistant referee's job a great deal harder,' Hughes said.

'Maybe it was introduced with the right intentions but a lot of these directives are brought down by FIFA by people who have never played the game and don't understand how it will actually impact at the level that we play.

'I think most people would like it to be clearer just to have a concise understanding of exactly what the rule is.

'The way the offside rule was when I was plying my trade was a lot clearer, everybody understood it and it was easier to work on defensive situations.

'These days it's very difficult to do defensive work when there's an interpretation in the law about whether players are active or not.

'Sometimes you will benefit from those decisions, sometimes they will go against you.'

Cann's change of heart prevented Rovers suffering a fifth straight defeat, including their Carling Cup exit against Arsenal, and moved them up a place to ninth in the Premier League table.

Hughes was relieved Blackburn halted their losing streak, although he felt his side were due a positive decision and were worthy of a point.

'I think he (Cann) anticipated a situation that was going to happen,' Hughes added. 'David Dunn was initially going to interfere with play but it didn't happen and, on reflection, the assistant referee felt it didn't warrant the flag.

'In some of the games this year I've been really critical of officials because I felt they made decisions that have hurt us, but in fairness he made a decision that he realised was wrong and he was brave enough to go back on that.

'It doesn't happen very often, certainly in front of a 40,000 crowd. We're grateful for that and I think he should be given credit for it.

'I felt it was the right decision and given the manner of our performance in the second half, I felt we more than deserved something out of the game.'