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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34597

Law 11 - Offside 5/21/2022

RE: Adult

Gary Pratt of Aberdeen, United Kingdom asks...

Watched a game yesterday where offside was given. Rule states free kick is given even if offence is inside your own half. You can't be offside inside your own half so please explain what the offence is that allows a free kick to be taken inside your own half for offside ?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gary,
you need to remember that offside is a TWO part equation.

First, the POSITIONAL aspect that starts it, can ONLY occur if the player is inside the opposition half when it occurs . . I know you grasp that aspect!

Once the positional aspect is confirmed then that player is restricted from further active play at any point or place on the FOP including their own half until a RESET of the restriction occurs! I think you have yet to grasp this point!

If that restricted player CHOOSES to involve themselves in active play before a reset,( a new touch or set of conditions) which reevauates their position on the FOP, they are guilty of INVOLVEMENT!

That is the 2ND part of offside & that is the time when the actual offside offence occurs.

Keep in mind that the ball as well all players, including the restricted PIOPs, can move a long disance well BEFORE any invovement might occur. THAT includes a restricted player reversing their direction back into their own half and only THEN becoming involved

The PIOP (player in the offside position) while now inside his own half, physicaly touches the ball or creates some interference in an opposition player from participating in play has met the criteria of an INDFK offside because that point of the offence is WHERE the involvement occured, thus the restart point. The restart point USED to be where the position was established in years past but that has changed in keeping with the concept of an infringement restart occurs from where the contact is made!

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
Thanks for the question
Yes you are correct in that a player cannot be offside in their own half. However Law 11 was changed recently to allow for an offside indirect free kick to be taken from where the offence occurred which CAN be in the player's own half. IFAB wanted Law 11 to be consistent with all the other laws in that a free kick is taken from where the offence occurs, hence the change.

So in your situation what happened was that the attacker was in an offside position in the opponents half when the ball was played by a team mate and then the player came back from that offside position into his own half to play the ball. That is an offside offence and the IDFK is now taken from where the offside occurred which was where the player played the ball in the player's own half.

That change is still very much not grasped by the football world. In the play off game between Sunderland and Wycombe there was an offside called at half way. The player came back from the attacking half to play the ball some 5 yards n his own half. The flag went up for offside and the defenders moved the ball back into their own half to take the IDFK. The referee did not bother to challenge that and as play restarted fairly quickly with a short pass there was no real need to insist on the correct restart location in the other half. The IDFK should have been taken from where the player played the ball in his own half that is where the offside offence occurred not his original offside position.

I would also say that the IDFK position location for offside is in general not followed correctly even for regular offside in that the free kick is taken from where the player interferes with play by playing the ball or by interfering with an opponent. So if an AR waits for a player in an offside position to play the ball the IDFK is taken from that location NOT from his original offside position. I see many IDFKs being constantly moved back to the offside position on wait and sees which is not correct. The correct location is where the ball was played or the PIOP interfered with an opponent.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Gary,

Offside POSITION is judged at the moment the ball is last touched by a teammate. However, the offside OFFENCE doesn't occur until later - when they become involved in active play (usually by touching the ball).

The free kick is taken where the actual offence occurs.

A player cannot put themselves back onside - so if they are in an offside position when the ball is last touched by a teammate then move back to an onside position to receive they ball (say, running back past the 2nd last defender - or into their own half), they're still considered to have committed an offside offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
I think the key to understanding this lies in differentiating clearly between two separate concepts in the offside law: offside position and offside offence.

In your question you use the one term, "offside" to refer to both concepts, when in fact they are (and have to be viewed as) totally separate. A player can only be in an offside position in the opponent's half, but they can commit an offside offence anywhere on the field, including in their own half.

The other part that's important to the understanding of this aparrent conundrum is that the law states that a player, who was in an offside position when the ball was last touched or played by a team mate, is only penalised on becoming involved in active play.

So if a player is in an offside position but doesnt touch the ball or interfere with an opponent straight away, then he has not committed an offside offence yet.

If he subsequently retreats into his own half (where he isn't in an offside position) and then before a team mate touches the ball again or an opponent deliberately plays it, becomes involved in active play, he has now committed an offside offence - and has done so in his own half of the field.

And because the offence (i.e. the involvement in active play) has occurred in the player's own half, that is where the free kick is taken. (Or at least it's where it should be taken - as ref McHugh points out, offside free kicks seem to be quite frequently taken from the wrong place nowadays).

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