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Question Number: 34835

Law 11 - Offside 1/16/2023

RE: Adult

Michael Morrow of Oldham, United Kingdom asks...

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.

Can you explain how you can be in your own half and be offside given that earlier in the law it states offside is only in the opponent's half??

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
Law 11 was amended recently by IFAB the law making body. IFAB wanted Law 11 Offside to be like all the other laws in that the free kick is taken from the location of the offence.

Offside is a two part offence in that position is one aspect while the second part is the part where the offence is finally committed by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent.
So the player in an offside position in the attacking half comes back into his own half to interfere with play by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent by challenging for the ball the offside offence is completed at that location. That is the location of the restart

In days gone by the ball was moved back to the position of the player in an offside position in the opponents' half where the player was positioned when the ball was played by a team mate. That has since been changed.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Michael,
the LOTG changed the LOCATION of an offside infraction.
What the LOTG on offside has not changed
It is NOT an offence to be in an offside position!

The restart USED to be from where the POSITION of offside player was initially established.
Hence an INDFK could ONLY occur inside the oppositions' half.
As you can only be guilty of offside position when in the opposition's' half which has not changed either.

What has changed, it is the restart of play is NOW taken from where the INVOLVEMENT by the offside player previously caught out and thus restricted actually affects play.
AS you are aware as the ball moves players shift about at high speeds.

A RESTRICTED PIOP can move many yards into what looks like safe surrounding where tons of defenders are now goal side. Also the PIOP can even crossover the midline and return inside their own half. However this important FACT remains!

NOTHING a PIOP can do on their own will reset their restriction from play. That includes moving to what appears as safe locations

A PIOP running into their own half to play a ball BEFORE another teammate has played that ball or an opponent has deliberately played the ball that PIOP is STILL restricted based on that freeze frame picture of offside position many seconds ago .

By TOUCHING the ball inside their own half where no new touches have reset any restriction that PIOP has now interfered with play and the INDFK occurs from INSIDE their own half as THAT is the point of the infringement and completed offside involvement.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Michael,
To understand this apparent conundrum, it's important to properly parse the wording of the offside law.

For instance, the law does not say that offside is only in the opponent's half. What it actually says that a player can only be in an offside *position* in the opponent's half - and as my colleague ref McHugh so correctly points out, offside is a two part offence. Being in an offside position and committing an offside offence are two different things which can (and usually do) occur in two different places.

Offside position is established when the ball is last touched by a team mate, before the potential offence occurs. The offside offence occurs when the player who was in an offside position, becomes involved in active play. Depending on the length of time between that last touch by a team mate and the previously offside-positioned player (OPP) becoming actively involved in play, the OPP can travel quite a large distance - and in any direction.

Typically, that movement is in a forward direction, towards the opponent's goal but sometimes the player moves back towards their own goal to receive a ball that was played behind them. This is known as "coming back from an offside position." And if the player comes back far enough, they can go from being an offside position in the opponent's half when the ball last touched a team mate, to receiving the ball (or challenging an opponent for it) in their own half of the field.

In case it helps, the IFAB actually anticipated that this might prove tricky so when they made this change (which remember, is a change to the position of the free kick only) they published the following in a frequently-asked questions (FAQ) document:

"Q3: The Law now says that the IDFK for offside can be taken in the player’s own half but how can this be correct?

It is correct because:
- a player CAN NOT be in an offside POSITION in their own half
- a player CAN commit an offside OFFENCE in their own half if they go back into their own half from an offside position"

If it were up to me, I would have arranged the wording of the answer very slightly differently, something like the following:

"It is correct because, while a player CAN NOT be in an offside POSITION in their own half, they CAN still commit an offside OFFENCE in their own half, if they go back into their own half from an offside position"

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