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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34838

Law 11 - Offside 1/16/2023

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...

This question is a follow up to question 34787


I have received two replies to this topic.

First brief from IFAB: 'It is the first touch that causes the ball to move (i.e. gives the ball energy or momentum) which is considered.'

The second answer from the internet from one referee: 'First touch on the instep is the moment as that's the first touch.'

I can say that now I don't understand it at all. :-)

So is it at the start of the 'scoop' or when the ball leaves the foot? (just like with the goalkeeper's throw?)

In fact, it could play a role, because many times it really is about centimeters.

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
The reason for this wording is for VAR purposes not for the vast majority of referees .

Slow motion freeze frame shows a noticeable difference between the first and last contact with the ball so IFAB felt it necessary to put that consideration in Law 11 to give a precise moment that the ball is "played " to judge offside in a video setting.

So for all of us outside of the elite group it is not a factor to be bothered about as we do not operate in slow motion or centimetres , indeed far from it. As an assistant or as a referee I considered the moment of the kick / touch / header which at times included the "noise" as the moment to consider offside position. It is for us the exact moment when the ball leaves the foot or hand. In reality it is extremely difficult as proven by science for the human eye to focus precisely on two disparate events in offside. So we consider the offside position at the moment of the play by a team mate. We are not concerned about the minutiae of the touch just that it happened. As an AR we consider whether the player is in an offside position when the ball was played.

If one is a VAR video operator it is a consideration which no doubt training has been given on. For us along with the viewing pubic we accept the ball at the player's foot / head as the correct position as given in the freeze frame screen to judge offside. Whether it is right or not we have to accept that those who are charged with defining it in the VAR booth have got it right based on the wording.
For the rest of us keep it simple.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Petr,
good to hear from you.
A response from an internet referee using the term instep to delineate an offside defining criteria would confuse me as well.

The IFAB response is the one to give consideration.
However, every NEW touch of the ball is a reset of circumstances so if it was under the auspices of gaining control, a player bobbles with ball played on the chest, say then onto knee , then down to the foot then dribbled the contact point is off the foot not chest as the ball is last touched by the teammate .

As my good colleague and friend Ref McHugh suggests VAR looks at offside in terms of millimetres and can establish critical bounce at compression of any first CONTACT to freeze frame the players position with respect to the ball LAST being sent on its way.

Grassroots football we are striving for a more realistic thump or separation of the ball exiting the space before a player sent the ball on its way whether it was kicked with any body part headed or even rebounds off by accident. To have the eye, ear, coordination to watch ball speeding by at 90 mph players in opposing directions at 20 mph plus swivel the head freeze frame the participants and get it right? It is why to THIS DAY I tell all ARs, "When in doubt DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
I would say go with the definition given by the IFAB, not the one found on the internet. Although as ref McHugh mentions, it's probably something that would really only be of interest to VAR officials, rather than us mere mortals. As he also alludes to, those in the VAR ranks would probably receive specific training about this.

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

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