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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34112

Law 11 - Offside 1/26/2021

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

Ok - I'll be the one to ask.

Offside or not in the Man City v Aston villa EPL match?

Have heard a lot of debate on this one.

I listened to the match on radio and after the incident happened the commentator kept coming back to asking 'why was it allowed, when clearly Rodri was in an offside position?'.

Without seeing it, I ran all the possible reason why, and I kept coming back to the thinking that he must not have challenged for the ball or be involved in play.

Once I had seen it later in the day - and maybe influenced by my prior thinking - I had no hesitation to say fair goal, as I did not think he challenge, and was simply lucky that the chested ball fell to the defenders right side, which allowed the attacker to pounce on the loose ball.

Another highlights package did show the defender look over his right should shortly before chesting the ball - which might be a consideration that the attacker in an offside position was influencing the defender (the reason why the defender looked), but in any case, the defender deliberately played the ball, and so all prior circumstances are no longer in play.

Seems to me that those thinking it is offside are forgetting that if the defender headed the ball and the attacker was first gather it - it would not be an issue.

Just because the attacker nicked the ball a second after the deliberate play, does not mean anything. The LOFG do not talk about time frames. Nor do they talk about how far the ball must travel after a deliberate play - to allow a previously offside player to freedom to then challenge.

Micheal Owen is saying it is a watershed moment that will have the rules (sic) changed in a blink of an eye. Think there are more things to fix then this part of the Laws.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Russel,
it's always interesting to hear from you, my good fellow. As you well know we learn constantly just how difficult it is to be consistent! lol

The fact is a NEW touch of the ball by an opponent resets the restriction of non-involvement if that touch was
(a) deliberate
(b) (but not a deliberate save)
(c) the PIOP did not interfere & did nothing to CAUSE the defender to misplay that ball.

Was his proximity enough?
Was there an actual challenge to which the defender was responding too?
Or was our defender simply unaware of the PIOP?

Did the PIOP prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision?
Answer clearly NO

Did the PIOP prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly challenging an opponent for the ball?
Answer does the timing of the challenge only occur AFTER offside was reset? I think it was a continuation of a challenge.

Did the PIOP prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly attempting to play a ball that is close when this action impacts on an opponent?
Answer how close is close affecting the defender in HOW he determines to play the ball? Given he was trying to participate immediately?

Did the PIOP prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly making an obvious action that clearly impacts the ability of an opponent to play the ball?
Answer The PIOP did run towards the ball at considerable speed making every effort to be there to challenge

In the olden days,
I would have flagged for offside primarily because I would be worried about a collision.

I could use the idea of controlled possession as opposed to a deflection or rebound to which the PIOP gains an advantage

As the only PIOP in pursuit, he could be flagged early as if he was intending to play it.

I suspect that in the PAST such a call to award offside was far more likely than today as we are so mandated to allow the attack as much as possible. But even today WE here as a panel think offside more than not!

There is some truth that by allowing offside players to CONTINUE pursuit or attacking even though restricted, it does set up the potential for injury even if we wish to promote attacking football with the least involvement by officials. I suspect we will never get it quite right and that points to your match your decision your reputation based on the actions of all others! The fact is if the defender had headed the ball and had it skip by as a panel we think offside would NOT be a factor whereas there is no challenge but to swoop in and take immediate ball possession it must be looked at as a challenge in the process of being implemented.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Thanks for the question
As it stands the Villa defender deliberately played the ball with no interference from a PIOP under any of the 4 ways listed in Law 11 which was interpreted as a reset under Law 11. Consequently the Man City attacker was entitled to then get involved in active play so the goal was *good*
Now that current interpretation does not sit well with many as it is felt that the PIOP gained an unfair advantage by being able to challenge *immediately* while coming back from an offside position. The law does not set out any time period in these situation. At higher levels the game is faster and players expect less time on the ball.
It is understood that after the controversy the PGMOL has advised that
« Where a player in an offside position immediately impacts on an opponent who has deliberately played the ball, the match officials shall prioritise challenging an opponent for the ball, and thus the offence of 'interfering with an opponent by impacting on the opponent's ability to play the ball' shall be penalised."
That though is still a matter of opinion as how long does the defender have after he deliberately plays the ball to be challenged.
A few season ago I had one of these where the defender headed the ball straight up in the air and before it came down the PIOP was in to challenge. I opined that the PIOP was close enough in the first place to challenge the defender in his playing of the ball and so the flag went up for offside.
In the Villa situation had the Villa defender headed the ball towards the City PIOP would there have been any debate about offside?
Personally I think the defender made a poor choice and execution of the play. He tried to control the ball and made a poor effort by moving it towards the opponent. At this level the defender knows that the attacker is there and he has fractions of a second to deal with that properly by either heading it away or moving the ball away from opponents. Having said that the PIOP is close enough to be opined as challenging an opponent and therfore called offside. At grassroots this gets called as offside as it will look like a challenge by a PIOP.
I hope it is not a step backwards now at the highest level in allowing ARs to flag offside on deliberate plays by defenders where there is poor execution aka the Kane penalty incident last season involving Lovren or the recent hypothetical question asked on the site on the Rashford goal about a reset on a miskick to a PIOP who is close. In many ways they are probably not any different except that the PIOP is not coming back from a clear offside position which is why this one has got so much attention.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Russell,
This is somewhat unsurprisingly, one that has already generated a fair amount of debate in refereeing circles. I think that part of the problem is that there are two clauses in Law 11 that could apply and depending on which one you think does (or should) apply, you will end up with a different conclusion.

Here are the two sections I refer to:

A. "A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:
challenging an opponent for the ball"

B. "A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including by deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate save by any opponent."

I had actually already said in online discussions that I thought that A applied, others were arguing that B is the applicable scenario. For me, the Man City player has not "received" the ball, instead he has challenged the opponent and taken the ball off him, which is quite a different thing (one might even say it's a diametrically opposed thing).

Apparently, according to the IFAB, of the above two sections of the law, it should be A that is applied.

Based on reports in the UK media, after conferring with the IFAB, there is now:"new guidance which would mean the goal would be ruled out in a future instance ....

Top-flight chiefs and the EFL have written to all 91 professional clubs to inform them to the changes following urgent talks with lawmakers the International Football Association Board.

The letter states: "Where a player in an offside position immediately impacts on an opponent who has deliberately played the ball, the match officials shall prioritise challenging an opponent for the ball, and thus the offence of 'interfering with an opponent by impacting on the opponent's ability to play the ball' shall be penalised."

I have to say that I agree with the IFAB's take on this, and that this kind of action should be judged as an offside offence.

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef


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