First the rule from the great football code.
“A player in an offside position who receives a ball from an opponent who knowingly plays the ball is not considered to have taken advantage of it.”
That was effectively the case with France’s winning 2-1. Kylian Mbappe was clearly offside the moment he was handed the ball – those screenshots without context sparked a social media commotion.
Only Spain defender Eric Garcia deliberately played the ball away with a tackle, which started a new phase and so Mbappé was no longer offside.
Actually, Garcia should have missed his tackle completely, because then Mbappé would have been offside.
It caused a lot of misunderstanding among Spain (and many football fans).
“The referee told us that Eric Garcia wanted to play the ball and remove that offside,” said Sergio Busquets after the game. “But of course he wanted to play the ball because otherwise it would have reached Mbappe … who was offside. It really makes no sense.”
Garcia himself added: “What should I do? Step aside and let Mbappe walk? Apparently that’s the rule… Hopefully they change it in the future, but for now it just hurts a lot.”
The (instinctively) unnatural rule has caused discussion before. Romelu Lukaku, for example, scored a goal against Russia at the latest European Championship thanks to the same interpretation of the law, while he was clearly offside when the pass departed.