Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34615

Law 11 - Offside 6/7/2022

RE: Select Under 14

John B Munson of Jamaica Plain, MA United States asks...

As AR in a recent game, the CR overruled my call of offsides saying the defender intentionally played the ball and therefore negated the offense. In this case, attacker A was in an offside position when the ball was played to him through the air by attacker B. The nearest defender attempted to head the ball but it went just slightly over his head and attacker A received the ball. In fact, the defender may have slightly touched the ball with the top of his head but it did not alter the trajectory of the ball. So what is the ruling?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi John,
Interesting, this question almost mirrors the one just asked in 34614 lol
The age-old adage PLAY to the WHISTLE!

An AR is requested to wait and see BEFORE raising a too early flag if there is ANY doubt. If a goal occurs ONLY then let the CR know of your concerns before any kick off could occur. The idea is we do not want to stop goals from being scored we simply want them to be good ones! We want a deliberate play that reset the restriction not that a goal opportunity was lost because we erred on the side of caution!

The CR of course CAN wave off the AR flag (his match, his decision, his reputation) but should only do so if 100% sure it WAS necessary. He could or should indicate to the teams to not stop playing with verbal cry (No offside keep playing! )as he is waving the flag down , unfortunately players tend to slack off, WHICH of course they should not as the signal is ONLY for the benefit of the referee, it is NOT a whistle to stop play, which is what the defenders & the attackers SHOULD be aware of!

As to what constitutes a deliberate play with no save conditions does create some dissent as to what is an involuntary or instinctive reaction & classified as a deflection or rebound as opposed to a deliberate attempt to play the ball, albeit poorly, for a mistake is, of course, an opinion.

This opinion is based on the experience & understanding of an official using criteria to determine the proximity, awareness, speed of play, & of how much time there was to base a decision of deliberate action.

While we do not reward mistakes, we should be aware if the ball was in any position with a clear chance to be deliberately played versus the ball deflecting or rebounding off the player.

Jumping up to head the ball that you see is coming and have time to choose is a pretty clear deliberate move but if it sailed over the head as he turned to face it and instinctively tried to react it might be as you chose to see it . It is wise to go over offside in pre and post game talks to clarify issues and to realize a difference of opinion is just that, it is not a blow to ego or control.


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
Thanks for the question

This topic has come up on a number of questions recently. The only touch of the ball by a defender that does not reset offside is either a deflection or a rebound. A deliberate play of the ball even a poorly executed one resets offside and play continues.

Assistants never come away with a warm feeling of job well done when a flag has been waved down in a game. It happens for a variety of reasons including the referee seeing something missed by an AR or the referee has a differing opinion.
I recall a wave down for an offence in my vicinity which still wrinkles with me to this day. The referee decided it was not a foul and it ultimately was his decision. I did not agree yet it was the referee's call to make.

In your example the defender attempts to play the ball and he heads it, albeit poorly, to the attacker in an offside position. That is a reset as it cannot be deemed a deflection or a rebound.

So what constitutes a deliberate play?
A defender goes to play the ball – conscious action
The defender has time and options
The defender has control of his actions – not the outcome of the action
There is distance and space between the pass and the defender playing the ball.
The quality of the play is not a factor.

Have a look at this video

White #19 attempts to play the ball and makes slight contact yet does not really change the trajectory of the ball to the Red attacker. That touch by the defender reset offside and the correct decision was to allow play to continue with the goal being scored.

The correct procedure in your example is to keep the flag down and allow play to continue. If it results in a goal then the AR should maintain position to alert the referee that there may have been an offence in the lead up to the goal. If there was contact which was not a rebound or a deflection then the correct decision is to award the goal. If there was no contact then the flag is raised for an offside offence and the restart is an IDFK.

Have a look at this video and disregard the comment from the pundit about the flag not being raised for offside. The pundit is incorrect on the non raising of the flag by the AR.

The AR does not signal a goal and the referee sees the AR has maintained his position plus the officials are miked up. The AR tells the referee that there were players in an offside position and the AR was uncertain if they were interfering with line of sight or not. The referee was best placed to see if there was interference by the PIOPs and clearly there was not. The referee after consulting with the AR decided that there was and then the flag was raised for offside.
In the match review the referee would have to shoulder the responsibility for the offside call. The AR did what was asked of him and ultimately it was the CR's call to disallow the goal which would be seen as a match changing error.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34615
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.