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Question Number: 32184

Law 11 - Offside 1/21/2018

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

I was CR today and an AR, in pre-game chat, asked if he should mark the offside kick where the infraction occurred - or where the player IOP started their run.

I advised to 'wait and see' and mark it where the player becomes involved in the play, just as we place a direct free kick where a foul occurs - not where the player started running from, to make the foul.

That was fine, then I was watching an EPL game between the Spurs and Southampton. Late in the game, a Spurs player in an offside position ran after a long pass and was whistled down near the top of the penalty area. The AR marked the free kick spot as closer to the centre circle, where the player had been when the pass was made. Is that not an outdated procedure?

I see in past discussion (Question 32010) that a player can be called 'offside' in his own half, if he comes back from an offside position to get involved in play for the ball.

In that situation, the IDFK is placed in the player's own half - where he got involved in play. It's NOT placed where he was when the pass was first made. Panelist Peter Grove confirmed the correct placement in that discussion.

I'm surprised the EPL hasn't caught on to correct free kick placement yet, for 'long' offside infractions. The commentators also had no problem with the placement.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Over the past number of years I have also noticed this along with other dated practices. I see offside being called regularly on the lone striker when the ball goes out for a goal kick, back to the goalkeeper etc.
You might recall when the requirement to touch the ball to complete offside was first introduced many ARs complained bitterly through their associations about having to wait until the touch of the ball by the lone striker. IFAB made a concession by allowing the lone striker rule to be introduced in a circular which subsequently became part of the advice in the Law book. The early flag decision is premised on that old wording
* A player in an offside position may be penalised before playing or touching the ball, if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.*
In those situations the IDFK was from the players position as no other location was viable. The same advice though says that if the ball goes out for a goal kick, throw in that is the restart.
Now clearly with training camps which involves senior referees and ARs one would think that Law 11 as currently constituted would be spelled out and adhered to. I would think that either it is a policy decision or that ARs have not moved on happy to use the legacy position. There is more of a focus in the UK media on the offside position than the technical part of meeting the final offside condition.
In fairness I do see wait and see flags where there are two players involved and one is onside.
BTW ARs in our Leagues also struggle with this despite being given instructions otherwise. Only recently in a high level game I gave the AR instructions not to flag for offside in such circumstances. First offside decision the ball was kicked through way too strongly for a goal kick. I looked across and the AR has flag up for offside which I waved down. GK keeps pointing to the flag as he wants the restart 25 plus yards up the field. I stick with my decision. Late on the same AR gets it right and waits until it is touched by the PIOP who is none to pleased that he was not called sooner!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
This is actually something that I have noted as a regular occurrence in high level televised games (and not only in the EPL either) that indirect free kicks for offside are still given where the player was when the ball was last touched by a team mate (or very close to that position) with alarming frequency - except on those rare occasions when the player does actually go back into their own half before becoming involved. Then the kick is awarded at the correct position in the player's own half. So it's as if the officials know about the updated law, but only apply it when the involvement occurs back in the player's own half of the field.

I have also noticed the practice that ref McHugh mentions, of AR's (again, even in some of the top leagues and in international matches) flagging for offside offences when the player is clearly not involved in active play (neither touches the ball, nor interferes with an opponent). Both phenomena are a constant puzzle to me.

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

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