Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34871

Law 11 - Offside 2/11/2023

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


one quick question, please.

Situation: The player leaves the field through the touchline during the game. Either he is completely off the field or only part of his body. This player is second to last and runs there for some time.

Where do I draw offside line? (At the point of leaving the pitch or where he is at the time of the pass?)

Basically what I'm talking about is if it's the same as when he's on the field ('with the difference that the line extends to the background'). Figuratively speaking. :-)

I also assume it's analogous for the player, which is in an offside position.

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
Although players are expected to stay on the pitch, players are permitted to exit the FOP via momentum & to avoid a collision as part of the natural playing conditions.

If they are running on the touchline boundary lines technically they are still on the FOP anyway even if partially off.

I would play the defender as if he was on the FOP and extend that imaginary line across UNLESS they deliberately exited the FOP to draw an offside call as that is actually a cautionable offence and a free kick already from where they exited.

If it was an attacker exiting trying to show non involvement we can be aware of the position off the FOP as being on the FOP just not off illegally! So unless he reentered & sought to be involved, it would be ignored. This generally has more to do with the goal line than touchline.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
Thanks for the question.
As an assistant referee the instruction is to remain in line with the second last opponent at all times. It make no difference if that player is running beyond the touchline. In many instances an AR may not even be aware of the positioning of that 2nd last opponent relative to the touchline when it happens on the far side of the field of play. AR must position in line with the player until that position changes.

Now it is pretty rare and I have never seen it except when a player goes off behind the goal line in which case that player is positioned on the goal line for offside purposes. That is included in Law 11 with specific advice on how to handle that.

In the case of an injury then the player can be ignored once play has been cleared away towards half way and a new phase of play has begun.

The overriding principle is that a defender cannot exclude themselves from an offside calculation by leaving the field of play so they should be factored into any offside calculation until play has stopped and / or the matter dealt with such as leaving the field without permission or an injury.
If the player left the field of play deliberately to try to place an opponent offside, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
I'm having a little difficulty envisaging your scenario. Unless something very unusual (and something that I can't quite conceive of) is going on the player who is off the field is not going to be the second last defender. There's almost inevitably going to be another defender who is on the field who will be that second last opponent, so that is where you would draw your offside line.

I suppose it's possible (though I'd say it's unlikely and I don't recall having seen this) that there could be two defenders off the field at the exact same time as there being a situation where a referee or assistant had to make a determination on offside position. If such a hypothetical situation were to occur, I suppose that logically, the end line itself would be the offside line. This would of course raise other questions but as I say this seems unlikely enough to me that I'm not sure those further hypothetical scenarios are really worth considering.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34871
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.