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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 28088

Law 11 - Offside 12/30/2013

RE: rec Under 13

Matt Brown of Palo Alto, California United States asks...

Attacker gains possession of the ball on his 40 yard line, and immediately advances into a scrum of at least 6 players in the center of the field. The defense has pulled all players up to the 50 yard line. There is a single attacker on the defense 40 yard line, clearly offside. The ball squirts out of the scrum.

I am A1, even with the last defender (about his 48 yd line) as the ball squirts out. The very experienced CR is on the other side of the scrum, facing me. There are at least 3 players between me and the ball; I cannot tell who kicked it, but I can clearly tell that the lone attacker is blatantly offside, and decide that it must be clear to the CR as well.

I decide I can't call what I don't see, and when in doubt, keep the flag down. Of course, the breakaway results in a goal, and the defending bench erupts. I stand still, and tell the CR what I saw and didn't see. He says that the ball had been kicked by the attacker (the original attacker had deftly dribbled thru most of the scrum, then passed it forward), but he didn't see the attacker all by himself on the defense 35, and I should have popped my flag on it. We sort it out, deny the goal, and the match goes on.

This hadn't been covered in the 2 minute pre-game (I'll know to cover it myself as CR in the future). Was this the right thing to do?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

You handled this correctly, IMO. The flag goes up only if you are 100 percent sure an offside infringement has occurred, and you weren't sure who played the ball.

I had the same experience as a referee a month ago in an adult league. I explained to the attacking team's captain exactly what happened and why an apparent goal had been disallowed. Of course,he was 100 percent sure that I was 100 percent wrong in thinking an attacker played the ball. But, it was my call to make. I got information needed from the assistant (scorer was in offside position) and used the information I had (teammate played the ball) to make the right call.

Would it be easier to sell if the AR had raised the flag? Sure, but if a defender had played the ball, the team would have disallowed a good goal if the referee was not strong enough to wave down the flag. Better for the AR to help the referee make the right call, IMO.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
Correct procedure here and well done for doing that. Many times the assistant will make a guess and when it goes wrong that will cause as much furore. The important part is that the correct call is made.
The only challenge here for the referee crew is that the scoring team including the bench feel that a 'change of mind' has been made without knowing why. That can be sorted when players know that the AR did not know who kicked the ball.
Here is an example of the opposite to your situation. The referee clearly sees that the ball has been played by a Green defender so it can't be offside. The AR raises his flag as he thinks it is played by a Blue attacker. The referee made a 100% correct decision to wave down the flag and allow play to continue. Most players accepted the referee's decision while one in particular did not and IMO should have been cautioned for dissent.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Matt,

This is a difficult one - but if you're raising your flag, then you're providing your opinion that an offside offence has occurred. If you're not sure that it has, then you don't want to raise your flag.

If you had raised your flag, play would have stopped, and then it may have been the incorrect decision. (After all, the referee may have thought you had a better view of who touched it than him.) At least with your approach you have the opportunity to make the correct decision a few moments later.

By raising your flag, there's no opportunity to work it out between yourselves and correct a wrong decision. You've done well.

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