Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34117

Law 11 - Offside 2/3/2021

RE: Pro Adult

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...

I have a question regarding regarding attacking phase of play in VAR procedure. Does a deliberate but a bad control of the ball by the defender reset attacking phase of play? Say, home team sends a long ball forward, one of the defenders of away team touches the ball with his/her chest, the ball hits the ground but immediately after that, one of the attackers of home team gets the ball and scores a goal. I know that the beginning of attacking phase of play is a bit up to the referees but in such a scenario, does a new attacking phase of play begin when defender controls the ball with his/her chest even though his/her opponents immediately gets the ball and scores a goal?
Best regards.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
I suspect you may be referring to the recent incident in the Ason Villa v Man City game in the English Premier League where such an incident happened. A City PIOP came from behind the Villa defender who contolled the ball and he was then promptly dispossessed of the ball.
On the night the AR kept the flag down and on review by VAR it was decided that the goal was good because the control by the defender reset the offside.
PGMOL the referee body in the EPL sought clarification from IFAB as it caused a furore as many felt it was unfair and a statement was then issued by PGMOL stating
"" 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 and what is meant by ability to play the ball when that has already happened.
I contend that Mings deliberately played the ball as had he headed the ball to the PIOP it would have a deliberate play and a reset.
I suppose the take away from the EPL incident and PGMOL's advice to its referees is that where a PIOP is close enough to challenge a defender who has just controlled the ball then that will be called offside if required. Whether that is rolled out universally I doubt it so we will probably have to wait until the next Law 11 revision for clarity to be brought to this.
I would say that at lower levels of the game this will look like an immediate challenge by a PIOP and it will be flagged as offside.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Crebs,
the quick answer is most likely YES!
A deliberate play is NOT necessarily a quality skill on display, be it a great bit of talent, or a stroke of luck, or a mistake, it's simply an intentional play on the ball performed by a player with sufficient time & awareness to decide what to do! As a new touch of the ball by an opponent it usually resets offside restrictions and the PIOP can resume his play on the ball. This is not the same as a reaction to an unseen, redirected, or fast-moving ball, where it's an instinctive flinch or stab at the ball as it passes by where it's considered a deflection and gaining an advantage could be the call.

While Bad control is not an excuse, the KEY point here in this case you describe, was the PIOP actually in the process of challenging by virtue of his OWN actions taken to get so close, so quickly? He was showing EVERY intention of participating.

We dealt with a similar question 34112 Law 11 - Offside 1/26/2021 RE: Rec Adult

One confusing aspect is we often remind those who ask about LAW 11 offside it is NOT an offense to be offside POSITIONED. The PIOP must do something to be involved by the touch of the ball or interfere with the opponent. In the PAST such a call to award offside was far more likely than today because nowadays we are so mandated to encourage and allow the attack whenever possible. In the olden days, we could have flagged for offside primarily because we would be worried about a collision.

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 actually interfere & did nothing to CAUSE the defender to misplay that ball.

The direction of the PIOP run from BEHIND the defender could mean the defender had no idea that PIOP was there in the vicinity, however, the FACT is, the PIOP was not showing any noninvolvement intent. My opinion is the PIOP did pursue the ball flight with every intention of being at the spot the ball arrived at! It is this closure of distance and at a high rate of speed by the PIOP whereupon the ball' arrival at the defender's location, our PIOP was INTENTIONALLY in the process of challenging for ball possession.

There is a provision in the LOTG that if a PIOP is in sole pursuit of the ball, is GOING to get there ahead of anyone, before that ball could ever go into touch, that an early whistle is preferable rather than waiting until he finally touches it. This is in direct opposition to the fact a physical touch MUST occur to be guilty of interfering with play. SO in effect, this transgression is the interference with an opponent via the proximity and timing of the run to swoop in and take immediate ball possession it must be looked at as a challenge in the process of being implemented by the PIOP which places him as a FACTOR in the defender's attempt to play the ball.

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! I can find it ok to forgive a PIOP in close proximity whose body actions do nothing but show non-involvement or if they try, those actions have zero effect on play.

The fact is if the defender had chosen a better tactical skill and headed the ball away from trouble instead of playing the ball off the chest to his feet, as a chosen skill, be he aware or not of the PIOP presence, there is less likelihood of seeing it as an offside infraction is rather interesting given EPL sought clarification from IFAB with the explanation and statement issued by PGMOL "" Where a player in an offside position immediately impacts on an opponent who has deliberately played the ball, the match officials shall prioritize challenging an opponent for the ball, and thus the offense of 'interfering with an opponent by impacting on the opponent's ability to play the ball' shall be penalized."

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34117
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 34118

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.