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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30790

Law 11 - Offside 9/20/2016

RE: Rec Adult

Nuno of London, UK asks...


in reference to offside rule:

'A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage'

what can be considered playing the ball deliberately by an opponent player?

is an interception by an opponent player considered to be deliberately playing the ball? even if the ball ends up with my own team?

Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


This is a constant struggle for us as referees. Determining whether a play is deliberate or not can be very difficult and a room of referees could watch the same situation and arrive at completely different answers. Here is what I generally use when determining whether a touch was deliberate: Did the defender have enough time to make a controlled play on the ball or was the play purely reactionary?

A couple examples to illustrate:

1) A forward crosses a ball from the wing into the penalty area. A defender near the middle of the six heads the ball which then goes to a player who was in an offside position.
--> For me this is a deliberate play because the defender had 20+ yards and time to make a controlled ply on the ball. The attacker should not be punished for being offside

2) A forward, under duress takes a shot which hits the reaching foot of the defender and goes to a player in an offside position.
--> For me, this would be offside because the defender was reacting rather than making a controlled play on the ball.

In both of these examples, notice the big factor of distance and time. Another thing to consider is the skill level of the teams. The higher the skill level, the smaller that window gets for incidental play.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

My association UEFA has come up with an interpretation of deflection v deliberate play which can be viewed here. I believe it may have IFAB origins as the advice is the same.
So the interpretation is left to the referee to decide. Did the defender deliberately play the ball or not? The quality of the play is not important as the ball can be misplayed to the player in an offside position and that is not offside.

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Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

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