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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34562

Law 11 - Offside 4/17/2022

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


one situation from today's Czech League, please.

Situation: Player A1 passes the 'long ball', teammate A2 is in an offside position and is not interested in playing the ball. The player A2 is not close to the defender. Defender catches this ball. However, defender has processing problems. The opponent A2 starts attacking him. Referee calls offside.

Is it the right decision? I suspect it could be the defender's intentional ball playing :-)

What do you consider in similar situations?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
not sure I have the gist of this?
If an offside opponent displays no obvious interest in getting involved, does nothing to be involved, no physical touch, no obtuse interference then there is no offside unless by his physical presence he has interfered in some way like blocking the line of sight or so close to a defender that the defender is hindered in some way?

Does the defender actually catch the ball???
Is this the keeper? NO opponent can mess with the keeper if the keeper catches the ball inside his area for 6 seconds?
IF it is a defender who expected the offside call and caught the ball?
That is actually a DFK handling violation?

IF the flag was up and the referee had decided the PIOP was involved already he might let the defender get away with catching the ball but in my opinion that is a .001% option way too risky to even contemplate! . The LOTG do permit an early flag on a ball being pursued by the PIOP assuming NO ONE ELSE could get to it , there was no way the ball would exit the FOP or to prevent an impending collision.

I THINK you are trying to explain a defender attempting to control that ball destined for the offside attacker and is unable to control it well and move off. quickly thereby giving the opponent who was offside positioned time to get over and contest the possession? There is a new statement by FIFA that allows a referee to gauge how QUICKLY a PIOP challange as in closing down the distance while the defender is fighting for control. You stated the PIOP was in fact no where near the defender ? Yet if he was ALREADY running towards the ball at high speed and immediately challenges there is some room for interpretation. I DO know in the past when I saw a defender trying to control a ball and the PIOP was running at him from behind often the defender was unaware I often called the offside to prevent a collision as it appeared to be clear he was in fact attempting to challenge for that ball.

IF the offside opponent was NOT active prior, it's difficult to say if the new defender's touch was judged as a deliberate action as that should reset the attacker restriction allow the FORMER PIOP a new opportunity to re-involve himself in active play. Was the PIOP moving towards the defender in tight behind? In other words how OBVIOUS was the situation? Was the defender blatantly affected by the attacker or is it simply a mistake?

Technically the fact the defender misplays the ball that he chose to deliberately play means the offside restriction on the PIOP was lifted and he has the right to challenge, a mistake is a mistake. How well someone CONTROLS their deliberate intervention is their problem. The PIOP simply can play no part in the disruption but can take advantage of a mistake if it is not classified as a deflection or rebound.
One other remote possibility is the PIOP MIGHT have verbally shouted something verbally distracting ,which is an INDFK out, but such an action is cautionable?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr

Thanks for the question.

The answer depends on how much time the defender had on the ball before being pressed by the player in an offside position. That is a judgement call and it is in the opinion of the referee as to whether the PIOP interfered with an opponent in this case the defender.

In a Premier League game between Aston Villa and Man City this situation was allowed and it caused a controversy. Advice was sought and this statement was made by IFAB

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

In other words if the PIOP benefits immediately by a challenge from his position then it should be called as offside.
Here was a debate about the incident before IFAB issued it statement which removed what was called a loophole by Dermot Gallagher former referee

I recall a similar situation I had a few seasons ago. Probably the exact same except that the defender headed the ball straight up in the air and as the ball came down he was challenged instantly by the PIOP. It did not sit well with me in that the PIOP did benefit from his offside position so I flagged for offside. I questioned it in my mind afterwards in that technically the defender's play of the ball reset offside yet at the same time it felt unfair due to the immediate challenge. Thankfully it is now tidied up by IFAB's clarification. I had the luxury of my decision not be subject to media examination. There were a few moans about the defender playing the ball yet the game restarted with an IDFK and that was the end of it

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

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