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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34107

Law 11 - Offside 1/21/2021

RE: Ex Referee Adult

Lenard Wynne of Johannesburg, South Africa asks...

A defender is behind the goal line and out of the field of play and not involved in active play, an attacker who is now between the goal keeper and the second last defender receives the ball and scores, is the goal disallowed due to offside?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Lenard
The simple answer is no as the defender is placed on the goal line for offside calculations.
However as always there is one exception where the ball is cleared away towards halfway and the defender remains off the field of play because of injury. In that case the defender is now considered no longer part of play.
Defender off the field are now only considered ‘active’ until defending team clear ball or play stops
Have a look at this video
While scorer loos in an offside position there is a Blue defender behind the goal line who play the scorer onside.
Had the ball been cleared away by Blues towards halfway then the Blue defender would have been no longer considered part of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Lenard,
as my colleague explains we place the off-field players on the goal line for offside purposes UNLESS the referee is aware and consents agreement that it is a legitimate injury situation. The referee allows some time for this to become self-evident as the ongoing play may not capture the initial reasoning or the severity of the injury.. In situations where defending players exit the FOP through momentum and a goal is achieved during this turbulent uncertainty, there must be a sufficient degree of open play that denotes a firm loss of possession and or continued acquisition to give credence to why this player remains off the FOP be it due to choice or unavailability to recover. This is why a bang-bang play of a defender off the FOP and a shot at goal could result in a good non-offside goal! Whereas a time interval after the fact with a clearance denotes reasonable cause to think the missing/injured player is in fact not part of the ongoing play and offside is now in play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Leonard,

The relevant section of Law 11 states that:

"A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside its penalty area."

I think the second half of the sentence about when the defender is no longer to be considered for the purposes of offside is not the best piece of wording I've ever seen and comes across as a little "woolly" to me. The first part however,is relatively clear and would most probably apply in the scenario you describe, although you don't specify the exact circumstances of how the defender came to be off the field and how long they'd been there.

Assuming that the defender had only just recently left the field, did not have the referee's permission to do so and the provisions of the second part of the law do not apply, then this defender has kept the attacker in an onside position and with that being the case, the goal should not be disallowed for an offside offence.

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Offside Question?

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

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