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Question Number: 34510

Law 11 - Offside 2/22/2022

RE: Youth-Adult, Competitive and Rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

It's been a while since I asked a question though I've been checking in.

I have a few video clips from CONCACAF World Cup qualifying action. I'll start with two offside examples.

Canada vs El Salvador: AR follows offside play and waits for involvement/touch, before raising flag. Marks the free kick at the spot where the infraction occurred.

This practice is not followed, as far as I could see, in MSL action last season. In the MSL, the AR stops and watches for offside, then brings the free kick back up to where he stopped.

The video is the correct procedure. Right? I asked for clarification at our refresher course and after consulting the "Good Book" the trainer agreed, that the free kick should be placed where the infraction occurred.

Next example: same AR, I believe. On this offside, he gives up early and stands his ground. We are advised to call it early, if a collision with a keeper or defender is looming. Is this what happened, do you feel?

Funnily enough, the keeper does not bring the ball up to where the AR is standing. He places the kick at about where the offender was when the whistle blew. Was the keeper correct?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Welcome back. Second video was not uploaded correctly so only one video was relevant.
The Laws of the Game require that all free kicks should be taken from the location of the offence . Law 11 was updated to meet this requirement as before the change the IDFK was taken from the offside position not from where the player in an offside position interfered with play or with an opponent.

Since that change the soccer world has struggled to implement that change with most players moving the ball to the offside position as of "old" not from where the offence occurred. So MLS is not alone on this. In the clip shown the AR was entirely correct to follow the ball and then flag for offside when the ball was touched by the PIOP. That clearly marks the location of the offside. I would also say that many ARs would flag early here as there is little potential for anything other than interfering with play by the PIOP.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Barry,
it's a good feeling is it not, that Canada looks capable of making a competitive run at the World cup!

Traditionalists and those with ingrained muscle memory do have some difficulty of overcoming past generations normalization of accepted conduct. As we are taught the NEW LOTG offside decisions require the INDFK be awarded from where the involvement occurs, NOT, the initial position that created the restriction in the first place!

In watching the video, I was fine with the mechanics! It was unnecessary to pursue play as the decision of involvement HAD been predetermined! I would agree with my esteemed colleague that ARs could flag early here, the LOTG do state we can do so if it is obvious nothing else but offside INDFK out will be the call. No chance of ball into touch, or a team mate getting to that same ball or any advantage for the opposition is present to not make a call. While we do point to the restart as the point of involvement, offside is not and never has been a blade of grass restart, so much leeway is granted in the placement .

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,

Since the change to the offside free kick being taken from the point of infraction I would say that this is a part of the law that is "honoured more in the breach than in the observance."

The the law is quite clear that the kick should be taken from where the actual infraction occurred but as my colleague ref McHugh points out, players (and match officials for that matter) sometimes seem content to let it be taken from where the player was when the pass was made. On other occasions it is taken from a point in between the two locations.

The other scenario is the one that you allude to where there is an early flag when the AR judges that no other player who was in an onside position has an opportunity to play the ball, or if a collision with the goalkeeper is a possibility. In this case you could say the infraction never really occurs because the AR has flagged before it actually could. So then it's a bit unclear where the kick should be taken from and I think it's partly this kind of scenario which leads to further laxness and confusion over where precisely offside free kicks should be taken.

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Offside Question?

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

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