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Question Number: 34783

Law 11 - Offside 12/1/2022

RE: Adult

Michalis Manioudis of Bakersfield, CA USA asks...

I have a question about a phase happened in a recent game and I would like to have your explanation. The whole phase has 3 consecutive moments (i separate them for your better understanding). I would like to share with you the video, however the official broadcaster locks the highlights video from playing abroad.

Moment 1: A midfielder from Team A makes a long pass towards the Team B penalty area. At the time of the long pass, the forward player of team A is NOT in offside position.

Moment 2: The defender of Team B tries to save the ball but the ball goes deeper into the penalty area (he wants to make a better save but he does not succeed). At the time when the defender saves the ball, the forward player of Team A is IN offside position.

Moment 3: The forward player of Team A takes the ball and tries to score.

The referee decides that the player gains advantage and gives the offside violation.

What is your opinion? What is the crucial moment of the phase? The moment "1" when the forward player is NOT in offside position, therefore the referee should allow the forward player to score or the moments "2" and "3" in which the forward player is in offside position and took advantage of the defender’s save?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michalis
As described that is not offside as the moment the ball was played by the midfielder team mate of Team A attacker he was not in an offside position. What happened after that was irrelevant as the ball was played by the Team B defender so offside does not apply.

For what it is worth if the referee was a lone official with no assistants the call could have been based on the way it looked AFTER the play by Defender B in which case it probably looked offside which is why the call was made.

One of the most difficult calls to make is to determine an attacker's position at the moment the ball is played by a team mate in tight offside calls. It is for this reason that technology was introduced at the highest level.
I have watched countless tight offside calls being made by officials and some were right and some wrong. Science has shown that the focus on two separate objects at the same time can be extremely difficult and for that reason calls are made in error both ways.

I also think that some officials decide it is better to call an *incorrect* offside on a dubious one rather than awarding a wrong goal hence why certain offside calls can be made. I would not be surprised if this did not look offside from whatever vantage point was used hence the call.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Michael,

Offside position is always taken from the moment a TEAMMATE plays the ball. So, if the receiving attacker is in an onside position when his teammate sent the ball in, then there can be no offside.

If he was, in fact in an offside position at that moment, then a defender's SAVE doesn't negate offside (a save is defined as an attempt to stop a ball going into or very close to goal). If it's not a save, then the referee needs to determine whether it's a controlled play or not.

If the referees awarded offside, then either they believe he was in an offside position when the ball was first put in, or there was another attacking touch (eg when the defender intercepted the ball, could there have been a touch? Could the referee believe there was?).

Bear in mind that the referees are constantly looking at the offside line even before the ball is kicked so always have a mental 'map' of player positions. Spectators and players, on the other hand, are looking at the ball and only really looking at the receiving player once they've normally got the ball - in that time, an onside attacker can be well behind the defence (not to mention, if you're not in line then you cannot judge offside position - which rules out almost everybody at the field except the AR. Sure, makes it problematic if the ref doesn't have an official AR, but we have a few tricks up our sleeve to judge offside even without being in line).

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Michalis,
offside along with deliberate handling remain controversial despite numerous attempts over the years to arrive at a reasonable cohesive consistent set of criteria so that all decisions might be seen with conformity on any FOP by any referee anywhere at any time.

In reviewing your 3-part scenario
The first part is simple
If the attacker was not in an offside position at the moment his team mate last touched the ball then there is NO restriction. NO possible offside. NO INDFK out!

The second part
no matter WHAT the defenders do or do not do in playing the ball. that NON offside attacker is FREE to wreak havoc on their plans no matter WHERE on the pitch he is because he is NOT restricted from physical involvement as he was NOT offside positioned when his team mate last touched the ball. .

He is STILL permitted to be involved in active play because nothing changed since the last touch by the teammate. .
He can MOVE closer to the opposite goal line, as the nearest player of all 22 with impunity to play ANY ball last touched by the defenders as THEIR touches of the ball mean NOTHING regarding his position.
The new touches of the ball by the defenders ONLY put the offside freeze frame positional analysis on their OWN players positioning back inside the other end of the field past the midline.

The FACT is the non offside attacking players MOVE as the ball moves so the constant shuffling of position that occurs must be disregarded if NO NEW teammate touches have occurred that could result in a restriction of involvement. . The fact a defender misplays the ball towards his own goal or in the direction of the attacker who is not restricted we say thank you and score a perfectly good legal goal . Essentially the attacker is taking the gift of a mistake by the defenders to benefit his team perfectly ok!

So in response to your 3rd point
Perfectly good goal if scored, play on if missed!
If a referee states it is offside, he would be incorrect BUT he would still be right. The decision is based on what he saw from where he was . If working as a single official he might not be in a great position but choose to think it plausable. or else followed a raised flag by an unobservant AR. Your 1st assumption is the ONLY correct one assuming the referee SEES that it clearly.

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

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