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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34616

Law 11 - Offside 6/8/2022

RE: Competetive Adult

Marv of Bowmanville, Ontario Canada asks...

RE: Offside

Attacking team was awarded a DFK about 3 yards outside the top edge of the penalty area. I was the AR at this end of the field. Defending team set up a 7 man wall. Prior to the DFK one attacker positioned himself in an obviously offside position. Once the DFK was taken the players in the wall immediately jumped up. The ball struck one or more players in the wall and then rebounded off the far goalpost and came back to the player who was in the offside position. The offside position player then kicked the ball into goal. I raised the flag to indicate offside, however the CR allowed the goal ruling that the defensive wall players had played the ball.

Correct Call??

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Marv
The answer rests on whether the contact by the defender in the defensive wall was a deliberate play or a rebound / deflection and / or whether the contact can be seen as a save.

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.

My immediate reaction is that if the defender jumps to stop the ball which has come from 10 yards away I am seeing this as a deliberate play rather than a deflection. It is an intentional movement into the path of the ball. In the situation where the defender has done nothing other than stand there then I'm leaning more towards a deflection.
Its akin to the question of deliberate handling in the wall. Once a defender moves upwards or to the side and the ball makes contact with an arm that is raised or away from the body it will be viewed as a deliberate action and handling so the same premises can be made on a defender trying to stop the ball by moving towards it which is a deliberate play. The defenders has to accept the consequences of their actions in such situations. Put it another way. If it was in open play what would be the decision on a player moving to stop the ball.

As to a save the Laws tells us that it is an action by a player to stop or attempt to stop the ball when it is going into or very close to the goal using any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless a goalkeeper within their own penalty area).

Given the location of the wall it is debateable whether the contact can be considered a save yet it is a judgment call for the referee. I personally think that at perhaps 10 /12 yards out to the side of the goal is stretching *close* yet it is a consideration.

The important point is that not all referees will be on the same page on interpreting contact in a defensive wall plus not all situations will be the same. Some actions will certainly be deliberate where a player intentionally sees the ball coming and moves to play it. While others will just be movement where the ball hits the player. It can be a fine line to discern the difference.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Marv,

One of the reasons why I dislike the current offside law is that it feels like defenders are punished for doing their job - trying to stop the ball but not quite reaching it.

Playing the ball is an action by a player that makes contact with the ball, as defined in the LOTG glossary (personally I think the intention is to specify an intentional action).

The defenders deliberately moved into the likely path of the ball - even though they probably jumped before the ball was kicked, that's still a deliberate play for me. So while it feels unfair, this would nullify any offside.

However, if it's a save - the ball is going towards goal (or close to), then this doesn't cancel the deflection. What does close to mean? That one's hard to say.

So, if it looked like it was probably a shot on goal, then it's a save, not a play. Given it rebounded off the goalpost, I'd say that it likely meets the criteria of a save.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Marv,
I consider the situation as described more as a deliberate save which does NOT reset the restriction for a PIOP and as such I lean to an offside INDFK out for gaining an advantage. My colleague Ref McHugh gives clear criteria to consider but the rational of our other colleague Ref Wright parallels my own opinion! Cheers

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

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