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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35088

Law 11 - Offside 8/30/2023

RE: Middle School Under 14

Jonathan Walston of Raleigh, North Carolina United States asks...

If a defender clears the ball from the defensive zone and it travels up the field, but deflects off an unsuspecting teammate about 10 yards ahead and then goes backwards to an attacking player in an offsides position, it is considered offsides? My opinion is yes, since the deliberate play by the defender was made, but when the ball hit the other defender, it was not deliberate. The ball went forward and then deflected backwards. Just trying to understand as this was not called offsides.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jonathan,

Thank you for your question.

So, as I understand it, Blue defender kicks the ball, it strikes another blue player then falls to a red player?

That's not offside, for two reasons. The first, and most clearcut, is that offside always involves TWO attackers, not just one. It requires the player in the offside position, and their teammate touching the ball.

For instance, if an attacker is in an offside position at the moment their teammate touches the ball, then they touch the ball or interfere with an opponent (And there are very strict definitions for that, which don't match what a lot of people expect), then they are offside.

In your situation, there was never a second attacker involved, so that can't be offside.

In addition, if the ball comes from a defender who controlled or or had ample, reasonable opportunity to control the ball (eg the ball goes red-blue-red), then that also means there's no offside.

The moment the defender makes a deliberate play, that cancels offside. But, in your case it's moot as there's never a second attacker involved.

For offside, it always needs to come from an attacker, even if there's a defensive deflection in the middle. In your case, there was control before the deflection anyway.
It sounds like the correct decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jonathan
Thanks for the question
As described this most certainly is NOT offside as the ball was deliberately played by a defender and also deflected by another defender.
Offside is composed of three basic criteria namely position, involvement and the ball being played / touched to the PIOP by a teammate.
If you look at Law 11 the ball has to be played / touched by an attacking player to a team mate in an offside position for offside to be considered. The exact law 11 wording is

“”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””

As the ball has come from two defenders to the attacker who was in an offside position offside was not even a consideration hence the no call.
Had the final deflection come off an attacking player that would be make it offside even if it was touched accidentally but that is not what happened.

Always remember that two attacking players have to be involved in play for offside to be considered. In your example only one attacker was involved so offside was not possible.
BTW FIFA and NFHS are the same on this. It cannot be offside as described.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Johnathan ,
as my two colleagues noted. Defenders deliberate touches of the ball do NOT affect attacking offside positions. even if that touch determines their own defending players offside positions if any. The key part of offside understanding is the POSTION of an opponent is NOT affected by anything OTHER than a TEAMMATES touch of the ball NOT the opposition. We have a reasonable decent explanation of offside on the website (sidebar right) by Chuck & I

Here is a puzzle that if you can solve it will help clarify things . It is possible albeit unlikely for players of BOTH teams to not ONLY be offside positioned but RESTRICTED from active play at the same sequence of events.

Imagine blue player #3 loses a shoe just outside the 18 yard opposition penalty area and only the red keeper is closer to the red goal line than he is. THAT is an offside position BUT it has no relevancy as RED is now in control of the ball as he is trying to sit down and retie the shoe. Play goes back up field into the middle of the park where red attempts a through ball switch cross but that red #6 player the ball was being passed to was caught out in an offside position by the blue defenders playing almost to the midline. A blue defender had tripped and that through ball struck his knee accidentally while on the ground rebounding back across the midline along the touchline deep into red defending territory. Now RED #6 is STILL Offside restricted as the DEFLECTION/REBOUND was not a deliberate play by blue and did NOT reset his restriction! HOWEVER even though the blue touch was accidental, that blue #3 player offside positioned putting on his shoe way back in the red PA is NOW considered to be restricted as the ball was last touched by a blue player. He gets the shoe on and runs over towards the ball just as the #6 red player crosses back over the midline in hot pursuit as well. NOW who ever reaches the ball first would be considered as interfering with play should either touch the ball at that point of contact either team would be awarded an INDFK. This is why it is important to know that the INDFK can occur INSIDE your own half even though the restricted positional determination occurred earlier in the other half. lol Mind you if it looked likely there would be a collision would you blow your whistle or raise flag & who gets the INDFK?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Coach Watson,

Your middle school games may be played using NFHS rules as here in Alabama.

NFHS Rule 11-1-4 states: " A player is offside and penalized if at the time the ball touches or is played by a teammate, a player in an offside position becomes involved in active play by: a. interfering with play or with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position.

NFHS Rule 111-5 further states: "A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball is not considered to have gained an advantage." I added this because in your case the ball was not deliberately played by an opponent.

However, even though in your case, the defender did not deliberately play the ball, the attacker did not gain an advantage because the ball was played by two defenders and not a teammate of the attacker as is required in NFHS Rule 11-4-1.

Thus, as indicated by my fellow referees, the attacker who received the ball from the defender was not offside.

I hope your team has a successful season.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jonathan,
Just to add further confirmation (if any were needed) that there is no offside offence in the incident you describe.

As all my colleagues have pointed out, the requirement for the ball to be played or touched by a team mate before there can be an offside offence, has not been met here.

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