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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34156

Law 11 - Offside 3/12/2021

RE: Pro Adult

Crebs Crem of Zagreb, Croatia asks...


I have never encountered such an incident but I just thought about such a scenario: Team A is attacking but the player receives the ball in an offside position. The assistant referee sees the offside but delays his/her flag since the player is one-on-one with goalkeeper of team B. Player A fails to score and team B begins to counter-attack but team A regains possession and scores. Then, assistant referee raises flag for the offside position which happened in the previous attacking attempt of team A.

In such a scenario, can we say that the assistant referee was incorrect since he/she waited too long to raise his/her flag? Or, can the assistant referee delay his/her flag this much?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Crebs,
it is highly unlikely that the AR, upon seeing & knowing 100% an opponent as a PIOP, to actually receive the ball, where he is physically touching the ball, thus interfering with play, not to raise the flag? If perhaps the AR was unsure the PIOP had actually touched the ball or the ball perhaps just skimmed off him slightly and went directly to the keeper with no safety issue of a collision or was unsure who last played the ball back into the path of the PIOP? The AR might NOT raise the flag and let play continue if say the ball had bounced nicely into the Keeper's hands? The AR/(CR might wave the flag off) thinking it was advantageous not to flag since the Keeper or defender, was in a good position to begin their counterattack. This would be an issue because once control is established by the defenders and play reverses, we generally let past offside discrepancies to fade away. It is too long to go back if it was CLEAR the defenders had achieved deliberate ball control, played it forward, and then squandered it by making a mistake. The only situation I could think of is if say the ball was zipping about in a rebounding deflection type of way where the defenders were put to task by the PIOP and never really gained ball possession due to the interference of the PIOP. In such a case I think the VAR would step in if it was painfully obvious the DIRECT impact of the offside player CREATED the situation.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Crebs
Without VAR an AR will raise the flag for offside as soon as the attacker interferes with play. Indeed without VAR an early flag is imperative as it stops any physical contact between the PIOP and in this case a goalkeeper. It also limits any notion of an afterthought as the attacking team will see the immediate flag. So there is no benefit in a delayed flag and the advice is to flag immediately once an AR is certain of offside by a PIOP. In the case of a PIOP and an onside player going for the ball an AR should wait until it is clear who will play the ball first. If the onside player plays the ball then there is no offside.
Referees rarely play advantage in such offside situation except where it is certain that no further attacking follow up play can happen and it benefits the team in possession who want to get on with play.
In the case of a missed flag the AR should keep the flag up until it is clear that play has moved away fully and that the focus of play has moved away probably beyond half way. Generally if play stays close to the penalty area there will be shouts for the raised flag and the referee will deal with that either by a wave down or he will take it the flag. If it is totally missed and play has moved away fully then the flag can be lowered.

In the case of VAR the advice is to delay the flag until after the goal opportunity and then VAR will confirm that it is offside or not if it is a tight one. So in this case after the chance is missed the flag will go up and generally referees will go with the IDFK restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Crebs,

Thank you for the question.
I've seen this sort of thing happen a fair bit at local level - but with a missed flag. The AR only holds the flag to wait or the outcome when there is VAR - but at local level, referees do sometimes miss the AR flag.
So, in your scenario - instead of the AR waiting and raising the flag late, it would be the same if the AR raised the flag but the referee missed it.
Once the defence - Team B - takes control of the ball, we can consider whether to drop the flag - whether the offside still matters.
For this, I would think of it a little like advantage. If I am AR, standing there with a flag raised, and the defence takes possession I'm still keeping my flag up until the defence has clearly moved further up the field.
If, say, the offside occurs near halfway, defence takes possession near the Penalty Area and loses it again in that area, the offside should still be played. If the offside instead was near the penalty area and the defence has the ball and starts moving up the field with it, then loses it in the midfield, I don't think we need to go back to the offside.
If it's all happening around the same area, the offside should still stand.

In the example you've provided, the AR should be raising the flag once the initial attack is complete - once the defence gains possession although if the defence has possession and clear opportunity for field space, then the AR could consider they have the advantage - in which case, shouldn't later raise the lag.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Crebs,
When you say the AR sees the offside but delays the flag, I have to suppose you are talking about a game where a VAR system is in use - because if not, then the AR has definitely made an error.

If you are indeed referring to a game with VAR, then firstly, the instruction is that the AR should only delay the flag of the offside call is very close and there is a "very clear attacking situation." So the mere fact that the player is one-on-one with the keeper is not enough reason on its own, to delay the flag. If the AR is absolutely sure the player is offside, they should still raise the flag,

Having said that, assuming the AR was unsure and is delaying the flag, my understanding is that they should then raise it as soon as the clear attacking situation is over.

I don't see anything in the law that entitles an AR to apply the advantage, so for me, and especially on offside decisions, I think the AR should raise the flag and leave it to the referee to decide whether to apply it. Given that the ball is in the defensive third of the team with the potential advantage, this would be relatively rare although possible, such as when the ball goes immediately to the goalkeeper.

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Offside Question?

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

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