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Question Number: 34801

Law 11 - Offside 12/8/2022

RE: Under 14

Tyler of Pitt Meadows, BC Canada asks...

What is an offside line? What does it do?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Tyler,

A player is in an offside position when they (any part of their body that can legally play the ball - that is, anything except their arms) are in the attacking half, and are past the 2nd last defender and in front of the ball.

Usually the goalkeeper is one of those 2 defenders, but not always.

When people talk about offside 'line' they're talking about an imaginary (or in the case of games with VAR, a computer-generated) line across the field, where either the 2nd last opponent or the ball is - whichever is closest to goal.

That is, if the attacking team has run the ball past the 2nd last defender, then the ball is the offside line. If they're still trying to penetrate the back line, then the 2nd last defender is the offside line. That is - any attacker who has any part of their body (except the arms) past that line is in an offside position.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tyler
Thanks for the question.

The "offside line" is a term used to describe an imaginary line that denotes where the 2nd last opponent is positioned on the field of play. Short of that imaginary line is an onside position and beyond the line is an offside position.

The history of offside was to prevent forwards from staying close to their opponents goal. In those early days of the game forwards did not move out of the penalty area and to encourage them to do so the law makers decided that players who failed to move out could not participate in play and where "off their side" . So to stay onside attckers had to move out with defenders as play moved upfield.

The current offside law places an attacker in an offside position if they are in the attacking half and closer to the goal line than the 2nd last opponent and / or the ball. So to be in an onside position an attacker player can be behind the ball or level with the 2nd last opponent.

Now with a field of play that can be over 50 yards wide the 2nd last opponent could be stood anywhere in the defensive half. To judge whether an attacker is level with that 2nd last opponent an imaginary line is draw across the field from the players position which then determines if an attacker is in an onside position or an offside position.

In this short video there are a few examples shown of that imaginary offside line

I hope all that helps

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Tyler,
the offside portion of the LOTG often undergoes a lengthy evaluation before any real understanding is achieved.
Offside is essentially a two part equation
with a number of possible outcomes to arrive at only one of two possible answers!
(OFFSIDE INDFK out or PLAY ON no restriction present)

When we talk about imaginary lines, freeze frame , line of sight, SPAM (space pace angles and movement ) not an offence to be in an offside position. I see blank expressions and people blinking thoroughly confused rolling eyes?

First off a PIOP (player in an offside position) is RESTRICTED from play in he or she cannot participate in playing/touching the ball or interfering with an opponents ability to participate in normal play.
To become restricted the player must not be within his own half of the FOP (field of play) but closer to the opposing goal line than the 2nd last opponent at the very moment that attacker's teammate last touches the ball.
This is where the imaginary line comes in as we FREEZE frame the entire FOP and the EXACT location of these relevant players to ask a very simple question that has no maybes!
is this attacking player on or off his side?
If No then nothing play continues with NO restrictions however
If YES is the answer that player is now a PIOP and RESTRICTED from actual involvement in the outcome of play

If you watch WC 2022 you will note the VAR review on offsides is in the millimeters of playable body parts to where a slight lean of a head or the back part on ankle is the only thing separating this evaluation .

Personally I think it sucks because in REAL grassroots offside there is no way you make these determinations of playable body parts.

A perfect perpendicular look in at a parallel line of sight, looking across at players , your concentration is there at that crucial moment of a teammate kicking the ball you freeze frame the FOP find those PIOPS closer to the opposing goal line than the 2nd last opponent if present and NOW you must remember them unless a NEW touch of the ball resets their restriction or reaffirms it as every touch of that ball by a teammate resets the POSITIONAL evaluation of on or offside whereas an opponent's touch MAY or may not change your circumstances as to whether you can or cannot be INVOLVED in play.

The fact is ball moves, players move, in opposing directions at high speed, so much may have changed by the time a PIOP is INVOLVED in the outcome The fact that SOME opposition ball touches do NOT reset a PIOPs restriction and yet SOME opponent's touches will undo that restriction is something a referee must evaluate & understand to make the correct decision.

A key point is, once a player is designated as a PIOP, NOTHING that PIOP can do on his own will reset his restriction . That PIOP could go back into his own half, all opposition players could be closer to their own goal line, so it might not appear he is in an offside position but that has NOT lifted the restriction of involvement and any touch of the ball or interference with an opponent is judged as an INDFK from the point on the FOP this INVOLVEMEMT occurs.

I have tried over the years a number of different ways to explain verbally but diagrams and pictures are often a better visual tool. If you read the FIFA IFAB LOTG you will find many such items included within. Please read and look at them carefully. Pages 203 to 209

1. Offside position
It is not an offence to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if:
# any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
# any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent
The hands and arms of all players, including the goalkeepers, are not considered. For the purposes of determining offside, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit.
A player is not in an offside position if level with the:
# second-last opponent or
# last two opponents
2. Offside offence
A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched*
by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:
# interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or
# interfering with an opponent by:
# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
# challenging an opponent for the ball or 11 *The first point of contact of the ‘play’ or ‘touch’ of the ball should be used
# clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
# making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball
# gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
# rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent
# been deliberately saved by any opponent
A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including by deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate save by any opponent.
A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).
In situations where:
# a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent’s progress (e.g. blocks the opponent), the offence should be penalised under Law 12
# a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence
# an offence is committed against a player in an offside position who is already for attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the offside offence is penalised as it has occurred before the foul challenge

3. No offence
There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from:
# a goal kick
# a throw-in
# a corner kick
4. Offences and sanctions
If an offside offence occurs, the referee awards an indirect free kick where the
offence occurred, including if it is in the player’s own half of the field of play.
A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside its penalty area. If the player left the field of play deliberately, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.
An attacking player may step or stay off the field of play not to be involved in active play. If the player re-enters from the goal line and becomes involved in play before the next stoppage in play or the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside its penalty area, the player shall be considered to be positioned on the goal line for the purposes of offside.
A player who deliberately leaves the field of play and re-enters without the referee’s permission and is not penalised for offside and gains an advantage must be cautioned.
If an attacking player remains stationary between the goalposts and inside the goal as the ball enters the goal, a goal must be awarded unless the player commits an offside offence or a Law 12 offence, in which case play is restarted with an indirect or direct free kick.
end quote
Merry Christmas

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Tyler,
The so-called "offside line" not a real line that is part of the physical field markings. Rather, it is an imaginary (or when VAR is in use, computer-generated) line and what it does, is indicate the point beyond which a player is in an offside position. The line is "drawn" across the field where either the second last defender or the ball is, whichever is closer to the end line.

It's important to remember that just because an attacking player is beyond this imaginary line, it does not necessarily mean they have committed an offside offence. There are various and sundry conditions that must also be fulfilled before a player in an offside position (PIOP) is actually guilty of an offence but that's a whole other discussion.

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