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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34583

Law 11 - Offside 5/2/2022

RE: Rec Under 12

steven hocker of Gardner, KS United States asks...

our team had a girl that was offsides at the time the ball was passed to her. It was called offsides, but the referee asked the side judge if the defender had touched or deflected the ball.

Not knowing much about soccer, I thought offsides was offsides. If, in this situation, had the defender touched the ball, would that have removed the offsides call? I don't know why he asked if the ball had been touched by the defense.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
Thanks for the questions.
Offside is not as simple as being in an offside position. Where the ball is PLAYED by an opponent to a player in an offside position that negates the offside call so play can continue. Now where the ball is not played yet deflected by a defender that does not reset the offside. So offside will still be called in those deflection / rebound situations where all the other conditions are met as it is not a deliberate play by an opponent.

As to why a referee would be asking that question during play I would be unsure of that unless it was some learning exercise or he was unsure if the ball was played or not. Questioning an AR should only arise at the end of a play if play was allowed to continue. There is no point in stopping play for offside and then asking an assistant if the ball was played or deflected? For me the referee should have a clear view of what transpired and decide accordingly which is to accept the flag or to wave it down if it was erroneous. If unsure play should be allowed to continue and then a decision made.
Ultimately it is the referee's call to make based on what transpired with an input from an assistant. Referees rely on assistants to determine offside position yet the referee can be closer to the play to determine deliberate plays as distinct from deflections / rebounds

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Steven,

A law was introduced a couple of years ago (really, this just clarified what was previously a grey area) to state that if a defender deliberately plays the ball, this nullifies offside.

So, defender makes a lunge to stop a through ball, can't quite get there but gets a partial touch on the ball, and it deflects through to the original attacker in the offside position? The offside has now been cancelled.

The exception to this is if the defender makes a save - ie is stopping a shot that's going towards or near the goal.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Steven
Chance is at the u12 girl level, the Referee or ARs might not be learned veterans of officiating any more than the young ladies are skilled professionals. Asking in the POST game is a good idea to help improve a young or inexperienced official about a review of a call. Publicly on the FOP, a quieter low-key word to the wise is called for if we are seeking improvements in judgments during an active match.

Offside has 2 variables
the first POSITION
by which when the ball is last played by a teammate is a YES or NO freeze-frame moment on the FOP whereby the PIOP being closer to the opposing goal line than the 2nd the last opponent creates a restriction from active play!
the second INVOLVEMENT
the RESTRICTED PIOP (Player in an offside position) is permitted to stay on the FOP just not INTERFERE with opponents or interfere with play by physically touching the ball.

What many fans fail to fully grasp is a DELIBERATE Action undertaken by the defensive opponents to play the ball even if it is a mistake, the PIOP restriction is LIFTED because once this deliberate ball contact occurs it no longer is an attacker LAST touching the ball but an opponent.
There are a couple of exemptions where the restriction, is in fact, NOT lifted, including

(1) If the defender made their deliberate action while making a save where the ball MIGHT or would have scored if they had not tried to stop it. In other words, it is held to the SAME standard as gaining an advantage from a rebound or deflection. That is an INDFK out!

(2) if the defender had no time to prepare, a fast-moving oddball or a redirected angle from an unknown direction where the ball is NOT considered as deliberately played but rather a DEFLECTION or rebound which DOES NOT reset the restriction. Instead, the PIOP is charged with gaining an advantage while in an offside position should they benefit from a ball STRIKING the opponent as opposed to that opponent ACTUALLY deliberately choosing to play the ball by initiating the contact. That is still an INDFK out!

ARS are instructed in situations where we MIGHT be unsure if the player is offside positioned or possibly touched the ball while offside positioned to let play continue but if an outcome occurs where a goal was to be scored. The AR is to stand in the, COME HERE I HAVE SOMETHING WE NEED TO DISCUSS MODE!, to have a quiet chat with the CR if something is or MIGHT be amiss.

It gather the AR did in fact signal offside so the CR stopped play but then, OUT LOUD inquired if the AR assistant referee (not side judge) felt the ball had been a deflected touch off the defender which would NOT reset the restriction (simply put the ball HIT him ) so Offside INDFK out or the reverse, a deliberately played ball touched BY the defender (simply put he HIT the ball!) which of course resets the restriction for the PIOP thus NOT offside!

No CR should discuss the game by ridiculing or putting their ARs in a difficult spot publicly. If the AR signalled offside then the AR-based on their current level of UNDERSTANDING should be confident that it was, because the cardinal rule at grassroots is, when in DOUBT DO NOT wave it about! Not to say the AR could not be wrong or confused but we generally do our educational laundry in private! Also, the CR can OVERRULE and wave it off the AR flag on an incorrect or too early flag if their view of the incident is a confirmation for their opinion to be followed.
The AR is USUALLY in a better viewing spot for offside looking across and 98 times out of a 100 we go with the flag up as an INDFK out even if we might have our doubts.

It is remotely possible in cases where a whistle stops play for a 100% determined as incorrect flag could be a DB restart for an inadvertent whistle. I recall calling offside just up near the midline when in fact the 2nd last defender was 45 yds back, at the goal post talking to his keeper.


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Offside Question?

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

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