NO SUCH THING AS A TRIFLING OFFSIDE
I . . . was at [a professional] match last Saturday night. One offside call has me confused. Can you help?
Believe DCU defending when ball played overhead toward NER player in clear offside position running toward the sideline away from team benches; offside player outside PA. But ball so high the player had to be 7' to get to it. Flag is up for offside. Defender covers ball into corner. [The referee] stops play for the offside, which leads to an IFK about 20-25 yards from the goal line. I wonder why. Since the defender secured position, albeit in the corner, but was not shadowed, shouldn't play be allowed to carry on for a "trifling" offisde? Or was the offside called because the defender was disadvantaged by having to play the ball from his corner, whereas with an IFK it is moved upfield for kick that will send it 50-60 yards (or more) on attack?
This was borne in on me Sat night because 8 hours earlier in a tournament U12 game I waved down an offside flag when the defender got possession at the top of the PA and despite screams from the sideline "cognoscenti" of "offside, offside" I let play go on, which led to the team in possession moving the ball upfield and scoring the game tying goal. I felt so smart--sometimes you get lucky. Then went to DCU game and became confused.
Can you help me understand this? I know there is a good reason for [the referee's decision but would like to find out what I'm missing.
Answer (June 20, 2005):
There is no such thing as a "trifling" offside. A player either is or is not offside.
If, in the opinion of the referee, the player in the offside position is involved in active play by interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position when a teammate plays the ball, that player must be declared offside. That decision is up to the referee on the game, not outside observers.
At what point is a player determined to be involved in the play for offside? The scenario: both teams are in team B's zone except team A goalie and 1 player from team B. The ball is cleared by team B and is going directly to the goalie, it is clear that the goalie will get the ball before the player from team B but it will be close, And this is actually what happened. Because at the time of receipt of the ball by the team A goalie the player from team B would be interfering with the play because of his proximity to the play but not before hand, should off sides be called? Team A goalie cleared the ball back in to team B area and no call was made. Was this correct?
Answer (September 1, 2005):
Given the circumstances you describe, IF the player from team B causes the goalkeeper from team A to move toward either him or the ball in order to gain possession, the player from team B has interfered with an opponent and must be declared offside. The restart will be an indirect free kick at the place where the player from team B was when his teammate played the ball. This is true even if the player from team B was just over the halfway line and did not near the goalkeeper of team A until he reached team A's penalty area.
Referees need to remember that if it is going to be close--or even close to close--the offside must be called to prevent any collision between the two players no matter who gets to the ball first.
WHEN TO FLAG FOR OFFSIDE
Two blue attacking players are standing in an offside position. A blue teammate passes a ball over the second to last red defender towards the goal. The two blue players run in the direction of the ball. A fourth blue player, who was onside at the moment the ball was passed, runs past the two teammates, plays the ball, and fires it into the goal. As the assistant referee, at what point do you signal offside?
A. When the ball was kicked over the second to last red defender
B. When the ball was touched by the fourth blue attacker
C. When you saw the two blue players running in the direction of the ball
D. There is no offside infringement
Answer (September 25, 2006):
This quote from an August 2006 USSF memorandum should be helpful:
The proper interpretation and application of Law 11 have been evolving in recent years. To this end, the International Board has provided detailed definitions of the ways in which a player may become involved in active play (Law 11, International Board Decision 2). On August 17, 2005, a Circular from the FIFA further clarified some of the confusion regarding whether "touching the ball" was a requirement for "interfering with play" (emphasis added):
- A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.
- If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with an opponent.
END OF QUOTE
If the player who had been in the onside position when the ball was played gets there first, then there is no offside.
WHY NO OFFSIDE FROM A GOAL KICK?
I have one question? I was holding an entry level class and a student asked about the following. One cannot be offside if they receive a ball directly from a goal kick,even if they are about 25 yards from the opponents goal, but one can be offside if there was a DFK from the 19 yard line and the opponents tried for an offside trap. A person was asking for the rationale behind it. I could only reply that the law provided for one but not the other, but not a reason why. Can you help me?
Answer (March 7, 2007):
There is no known documentation regarding the reason for this exemption of the goal kick (or of the throw-in or corner kick). These exemptions were installed in the Laws in the 1880s. One possibility is that these exemptions have in common a method of putting the ball into play after it has passed beyond the boundary lines. In other words, a technical procedure. Another possibility is that it was an early attempt to increase goalscoring possibilities. Yet a third possibility is that it would be extremely rare for a goal to be scored directly from a goal kick, although that possibility now exists following the changes in the Laws in 1997.
DEFLECTION VS. CHANGE OF POSSESSION
This question concerns an event during a competitive U17B match for which I was the center. During the run of play, team B crosses the ball into the box. The A team goalie comes out, jumps with his hands up, and "flaps" at the ball making just enough contact to spin the ball backwards to a waiting team B player who heads the ball into the net. The B player was in an offside position at the time of the cross.
I ruled this a good goal on the basis that the goalie had made a play on the ball which effectively changed possession. Since the ball played back from a defending player, the B player could not be offside and was free to attack the ball.
I will add that the goalie had made previous successful clearances of crosses and corners with his hands in addition to catching the ball.
Follow up question (which depends on the answer to above). If the keeper had attempted to catch the ball but just missed it off his finger tips, would this be the same as a deflection and, hence, offside judged against the B player?
Answer (October 29, 2007):
Deflections by any opposing player do not affect the status of a player in an offside position; the attacking team's player must be called offside if he or she becomes involved in play (as defined in Law 11). Unsuccessfully "making a play" for the ball does not establish possession. Nor, for that matter, does successfully "making a play" for the ball if it then deflects to the player in the offside position who becomes involved in play.
Note that there are differences here between "being involved in play," "playing the ball," and "making a play" for the ball. (As noted above, see Law 11 for involvement in play.) "Playing the ball" in these circumstances means that the defender (in this case the goalkeeper) possessed and controlled the ball. However, if the defender possessed and controlled the ball badly, it's still "making a play," but if it wasn't possessed and controlled, it wasn't played in the sense you suggested in your scenario.
A rule: Being able to use the ball subsequent to contact equals possession; deflection is not possession.
DO NOT DEFEND FOR THE DEFENDERS!
Several referees were discussing a general offside situation where a ball is headed backward by a defender. For example assume A1 sends a high diagonal ball towards the 18 yard line. D1 heads it only to have it go backwards to an attacker behind him in an offside position.
These refs believe that, because the act of heading the ball is a "deliberate act, not a deflection", that it will automatically reset the offside situation, regardless of where the ball ends up. Thus the attacker who ends up with the ball behind the defender is not offside, regardless of whether it was the defender's intent to play the ball backward and regardless of whether the header was controlled or if it simply skimmed of the very top of his head.
While I realize the final judgement is always itootr, I think that most of the time when a defender heads a ball backwards to an attacker, giving the attacker a good scoring opportunity, that this is not a controlled play but rather the equivalent of a mis-hit kick.
In that case, if my judgement is that the ball was mis-hit by the defender and hence accidentally went backwards, I don't believe it would reset the offside situation.
Could you please clarify this situation?
Answer (June 18, 2008):
Looking solely at your direct question, the fact that the act of heading the ball is "deliberate" has no bearing on the matter. If the opponent (D1) did not establish full control of the ball originally played by A1 toward his/her teammate, then the heading of the ball is a deflection or touch, not possession or control. Therefore, the attacker in the offside position to whom the ball was headed by D1 is offside if he becomes actively involved in play.
There are, however, other aspects to be considered. The defender could be deliberately heading the ball back (say, to his keeper so that the keeper could handle it) and not know that there was an attacker back there also. In such a case, it is a deliberate play and the attacker should not be punished for the defender's error by being called for offside if he then gathers the ball and attacks the goal.
A defender might also deliberately play (possess and control) the ball by heading it but misdirect the ball so that it goes to this attacker ... and again the attacker should not be called for offside.
Why should a defender gain the benefit of an offside call against this attacker simply because the defender didn't play the ball accurately or well -- he still played it. Deflections, ricochets, bounces, and the like would not of course constitute a play.
In closing, we need to remember that officials, whether referees or assistant referees, should not defend for the defenders.