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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33809

Law 11 - Offside 12/18/2019

RE: Rec Adult

Mike Devo of Apex, NC USA asks...

I have a question regarding the offsides call in the La Liga El Classico game on Wednesday. Ferland Mendy was ruled offsides by a hair but the question I have is regarding Gareth Bale's position. When the ball was kicked to Mendy Bale was at least 2-3 feet behind the defensive line. Although he walked back and was even with Mendy when Mendy actually touched the ball did he not gain advantage by being 2 feet forward and in an offsides position when the ball was kicked.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mike
You need to remember offside is a two part infraction (position + involvement) and position is RESET at EVERY NEW team mate touch of the ball!

BALE was indeed in an easily seen offside position on the through ball to MENDY , however, BALE was never INVOLVED in play at THAT Time!

Mendy, via mistiming his run, was slightly offside positioned WHEN his teammate passed the through ball. Mendy by touching the ball thus interfering with play while restricted by being in offside position had already committed an INDFK offence .

Your incorrect assumption BALE was gaining an advantage has no basis in law!
Gaining an advantage is a concept which applies to a RESTRICTED attacker determined via offside position who seeks to play the ball off a rebound or deflection or thwarts an opponent by interfering with his ability to challenge.

You need to learn WHEN a FORMERLY restricted player has this positional restriction lifted is by
(a) NOT being in an offside position at the NEXT teammates touch of the ball
(b) the opponent gains clear possession or takes deliberate actions to play the ball without any interference by the offside player in question
(c) the ball goes out of play for a restart)

IF Mendy's run HAD been onside then BALE'S goal would have stood
This is because BALE, who was restricted on the through-ball by being in an offside position DID nothing at THAT moment in time to interfere with either play or opponent NO involvement!
This is very important to grasp, offside restriction is RESET at EVERY NEW touch of the ball by a teammate. Note BALE'S position upon receiving the square ball across. BALE was FURTHER away from the opposing goal line than the ball at the time of the last touch by MENDY thus BALE was ONSIDE, thus good goal, but ONLY if Mendy had not been guilty of offside earlier in the lead up.

Offside creates a tactical maneuvering of bodies . The defenders try to push up, BEFORE the ball is played by the attacking opponents. Conversely the attackers will use diagonal or switchback routes to counter and get in behind by well timed runs. The tactic or good fortune of placing offside players in behind the 2nd last opponent can have some benefit. IF a good, well timed onside run secures the ball on the fly, often the restricted players who were in-behind the 2nd last opponents can suddenly be unmarked and legally allowed to participate in play once the ball is touched by the receiving teammate at a point where the ball is now closer to the opposing goal line the previous restriction for the PIOPS is lifted they participate in play, it may look unfair but its all fine per point (a) !

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
The video I saw of the incident showed to me that Mendy was in an offside position beyond the defensive line and that what was called not offside on Bale.
The commentators suggested it was Bale that was called offside yet that was not possible as he was behind the ball when it was played to him. It made no difference that Bale was in an offside position on the original through ball as Bale was not interfering with play or an opponent. The pass by Mendy began a new phase of play which would have reset offside had Mendy been onside, which he was not.
That new phase of play concept has upset some in the game as it can benefit the attacking team by placing an attacker in an offside position and that on the next phase of play by then the player who is now in an onside position and cannot then be called for offside. It should not be confused with the offside term of *gaining an advantage* which is unique to rebounds, deflections off the frame of the goal, opponents etc
Case in point is the set piece free kick where a team places an attacker in a clear offside position just beyond the offside line which is not offside as the player must interfere with play or opponent. The ball is played away from the PIOP to an onside player and as play advances the PIOP gets behind the ball and he is free to participate in subsequent phases of play. The strategy behind that is that it can free the PIOP from close marking and it can be difficult to mark that player on the next phase of play. Case in point is this Bale disallowed goal.
I believe the Real Madrid incident was deliberate in that RM allowed two attackers which included Bale to remain in offside positions yet the ball was played to what should have been an onside player in this case Mendy and then on his cross there could be two unmarked players away from the retreating defenders who just have to wait for the ball to get beyond them through the onside player to participate in the next phase of play.
Also if one looks at the reaction of Mendy to the offside he reacts to me like he knew he was beyond the second last defender and that he saw the flag go up immediately for offside. Had Mendy stayed onside the goal would have been good as Bale was fully entitled under the law to get involved in the next phase of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mike,
The first thing to remember is that being 'at least 2-3 feet behind the defensive line' and in an offside position is not an offence. I have not seen the actual footage but assuming your description is accurate, Bale definitely did not ''gain an advantage'' in terms of offside. To do so, he would have had to touch the ball or interfere with an opponent after the ball rebounded or deflected from an opponent or the frame of the goal.

He couldn't have been guilty of gaining an advantage as there was no rebound or deflection (and he can't be guilty of interfering with play as that also requires touching the ball).

That leaves only one possible other category of offside offence, ''interfering with an opponent.''

To be guilty of that, the player has to be either:

''preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or

challenging an opponent for the ball or

clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or

making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball''

Again based on your description, it doesn't appear that Bale did any of these things so it doesn't sound like there was any offside offence here.

Edit: I have seen the video now and I think I understand the issue you are raising. My colleagues have already said this but had Mendy been onside, there would have been no offside offence by Bale.

The law on this is clearly laid out on page 221 of the Laws of the Game, 2019/20 edition, as follows:

''An attacker (C) is in an offside position, not interfering with an opponent, when a team-mate (A) passes the ball to player (B1) in an onside position who runs towards the opponents' goal and passes the ball (B2) to team-mate (C). Attacker (C) was in an onside position when the ball was passed, so cannot be penalised.''

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