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Question Number: 30680

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/21/2016

RE: Pro Adult

Nigel Reed of Melbourne, Vic Australia asks...

My name is Nigel Reed, I am the technical director at Eastern Lions - NPL2

I was hoping that you could help clear up an offside ruling?

Can a player be offside if the ball is passed backwards?

My view is that the player is in an offside position if he/she is closer to the goal line than the ball at the time the ball is played, regardless of the direction of the pass.

9 dribbled past the 2nd last defender and 11 is running ahead of 9 and the ball. ie assume 9 is onside at this point and 11 is ahead of the ball.

At this point 9 and 11 only have the goal keeper between them, the ball and the goal line.

9 passes the ball backwards to avoid the gk retreiving the ball
11 runs back to retrieve the ball.

Is the 11 considered offside or onside?

The main point of contention is that a player cannot be offside if the ball is passed backwards, but I cannot see that in any part of the fifa

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Nigel
In the example you provide the player is offside. The PIOP has come from an offside position to get involved in active play by interfering with play which makes it offside. Under new Laws the IDFK is taken from where the PIOP interferes with play or with an opponent which can now be in his own half. Previously it was taken from his offside position at the moment the ball was played by his team mate.
Generally when the ball is passed back the receiver, as he is not ahead of the ball, is not in an offside position. Law 11 though makes no mention of the direction of the ball just whether the player is in an offside position or not. It is a rare occurrence and the only times that I have seen this is on a short corner with no opponents on the goal posts and the corner kick takers runs from the goal line in an offside position on to a pass from his team mate. As he has come from an offside position on the goal line to interfere with play that is offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Nigel,

Thank you for your question.

This is a commonly misunderstood aspect of the law - fortunately though, you appear to have understood it correctly. The Laws of the Game actually make no mention in reference to direction in relation to offside.

As such, it doesn't matter which direction the ball is played in - if an attacker is in an offside position at the moment the ball is last touched by a teammate and they become involved in active play, they are to be penalised.

I have had a few scenarios where a player was in an offside position to the side of the ball carrier and not too far in front, with defenders marking the waiting striker. The ball carrier has passed the ball backwards into the open space behind his teammate and that player has run back to receive the ball. This is offside. So in your question, number 11 is to be penalised for an offside infringement.

This tends to not be very well accepted by players and spectators alike - either because, unlike the AR, they don't look at the receiving player until they've run back past the defenders, or (more commonly) because they mistakenly think the direction of the pass is relevant.

Out of interest there are some law changes around offside next season. Nothing that affects your scenario, but some changes to how 'interfering with an opponent' is determined. Also, in those scenarios where an offside player runs back into their own half to receive the ball, the free kick will be taken inside the half as opposed to just in the attacking half (ie it's taken from where they became involved).

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