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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33973

Law 11 - Offside 8/12/2020

RE: Adult

Lenval Peart of Georgetown , Guyana asks...

Please explain why a player cannot be offside from a direct goal kick.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Lenval,
As it stands, that's not a question that can really be definitively answered beyond saying that it's because that's what the laws says.

We can speculate that it's because in the earliest days of the game, goal kicks (or their equivalent) were taken from on or behind the goal line itself and since any player who was in front of the ball was in an offside position, then any player from the team taking the kick, who was on the field of play, would have been offside. As this would have been incredibly restrictive, we can imagine that this was the reason behind the law exempting players from being offside when goal kicks are taken.

Here's the offside law wording from the very first edition of the laws in 1863:

"When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent’s goal line is out of play and may not touch the ball himself nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so until the ball has been played but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from behind the goal line."

(In 1873, the word "behind" was removed from the law, which I suspect was the intention/practice all along, especially when there was no actual goal line marking required at the time).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Lenval
Many of the Laws date back to the mid 1800’s and it was a very different game back then.
Some of the Laws such as a goal kick, throw in bear no relation to the modern game. At one time the throw in had to thrown in straight between a group of players rather than backwards or forwards. Again offside was not possible in such a scenario. Referee Grove mentions the goal kick mechanics.
It also became a general principle not to amend the Laws very much when changes needed to be made. So if players knew that they could not be offside from a goal kick or throw in why change it particularly when it made little difference given i suspect the heavy ball could not be thrown or kicked very far.
So from the early days a player could not be offside from a goal kick or a throw in and it has remained that way to present time.

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

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