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Question Number: 33936

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 5/4/2020

Larry of Danville, CA US asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33935

The player in this instance was onside at the time of the kick. However, am I correct that if he had been in an offside position with the clear intention of distracting the GK, he should be called for offside? And by clear intention, I mean that he is in such an obvious position of offside (jumping around like an idiot or not) there could be no other reason for him to be there other than to distract the GK, even if he is not directly in the GK's line of sight. Do you think we should be pro-active in stopping this sort of behavior prior to the kick, and does the age of the players matter in being pro-active?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
On the offside part I have in the past told players that standing in an offside position in line with the ball and the goalkeeper at a free kick runs a high risk of being called for offside on *line of sight* interfering. I would safely say that all have returned to an onside position before the kick. Distracting is not enough on its own yet as it is a matter of opinion on *interfering* a referees could see it as interfering on line of sight and call the offside. If there is no line of sight it cannot be called as distracting is not part of Law 11. A player can be distracted by a player in an offside position yet if the PIOP does not meet any of the criteria in Law 11 it is not offside. For example a player in an offside position could call for the ball and distract a defender who could even move towards that player yet if the PIOP does not interfere with play or an opponent it cannot be called offside.
Have a look at this video
One could say that the White 11 is also distracting the goalkeeper yet as she is in an onside position the player has not committed any offence.
As to being proactive I would see nothing wrong with having a *word* with the player. The difficulty is that the word may not be heeded in which case the referee then has to decide what further action to take. I personally would only have a word if the action involved an opponent with both players starting to act aggressively towards each other in which case they would be asked to desist and then there may have to be two cautions if it continued. At younger age groups I would say that players take more heed of the referee and a *word* may have the desired effect that the referee is looking for.
Have a look at this video
It works the other way too!!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
As the offside law stands, even if the player had still been in an offside position at the time of the free kick, he could not have been called for an offside offence simply because of his intention. In terms of interfering with an opponent, simply intending to distract is not enough (even if the intent is clear) - a player is only guilty of an offside offence if their actions actually prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball.

I personally think that this specific incident is such an egregious example of unsporting behaviour that I believe a referee would be entitled to have a quick word with this player and advise him to stop being such an idiot.

As I said in my previous answer I would be perfectly happy (in this particular instance) if the law still called for a player to be cautioned for this kind of behaviour. The law as it is currently written does not require it however.

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