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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34242

Law 11 - Offside 6/12/2021

RE: Regional AYSO Ref Under 15

James M Thompson of Croswell, MI United States asks...

Scenario: 2 attacking players coming down the field with ball possession, goalie comes out of the goal area to play the ball, attacker 1 gets around the goalie clean and pass/shoots toward the goal. The 2nd attacker, which is now in offside position because the pass/shot was forward and attacker 2 was ahead of attacker 1. Attacker 2 runs toward the pass/shot and follows it in to the goal, close enough to kick it if desired. Attacker 2 did not touch the ball and there were no defenders closer than 3 meters to attacker 2. Attacker 2 did not interfere with play because there was no defenders near enough to stop the ball from going into the goal. If attacker 2 touched the ball before it went into the goal, it would be a clear offside, but Is attacker 2 offside because they followed the ball in, even though there was no interference or touch of the ball? Thanks in advance.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi James
As described this is not offside. While Attacker#2 was in an offside position at the moment of the play by his team mate #1 the PIOP has not interfered with play or an opponent. Being in an offside position or running towards the ball are not offside offences. There has to be more for offside to be called.

You are correct in that if the PIOP was to touch the ball before it entered the goal then offside must be called or if the PIOP interfered with an opponent in the ways set out in Law 11 then that would be called as well. As described, with no opponent within 3 yards of the PIOP, interfering with an opponent is unlikely and as there is no touch of the ball then there is no interfering with play either.

Just to be aware the ball does not have to be played forward for offside to be considered. Typically the ball does get played forward most of the time with the PIOP being ahead of the ball and the 2nd last opponent yet there can be situations where the ball is played backwards and the PIOP comes from an offside position to interfere with play or an opponent.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi James,
it does seem that an attempt to play the ball should be enough for involvement but that is not how it works. I have seen PIOPs slide in and take a kick or poke but the ball bounced over their leg into the goal for what is a good goal because THEY DID NOT ACTUALLY touch the ball and of course there was no defender interfered with. I have seen the reverse where the PIOP tried desperately to avoid the ball only for it to graze him or just skim off some body part and accidental as it might be, THAT is enough for involvement and an INDFK out for offside! As to your concept of the pass was forward, pass direction plays no part, only the players' position is evaluated at the touch of that last pass on the FOP. It is this touch that sets up the restriction as a yes it's ok to play or no it is not ok. Players can run back, forward, or sideways. As my colleagues point out USUALLY the pass is a forward pass but once THAT 1st part of the Position is confirmed, that PIOP is ALWAYS restricted from Involvement until another phase of play releases the restriction.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi James,
Assuming all the facts are exactly as you describe them, there is no offside offence here. Had the offside-positioned player touched the ball or interfered with an opponent (as defined in law) however, the situation would be different.

I would just echo what ref McHugh says - the direction of travel of the ball has no bearing on an offside offence. It's a common myth that the ball has to travel forward for a player to be offside. As my colleague correctly points out, a player can also be offside by running back from an offside position onto a ball that is played backwards.

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34242
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

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See Question: 34303

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Offside Question?

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

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