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Question Number: 35255

Law 11 - Offside 11/26/2023

RE: Adult

Graham Bonney of Brentwood, Essex United Kingdom asks...

Hi, I wonder if you can provide some clarification and also settle a disagreement. During yesterday's match between Leyton Orient and Wigan Athletic, an offside decision was given against the Leyton Orient centre forward who was adjudged offside when he was well inside the Wigan half. However, when he actually received the ball, he was well inside his own half. The referee awarded an indirect free-kick for the offside but directed the kick to be taken well inside the Leyton Orient half. This sparked a frenzy in the crowd amongst others and the referee received a bucket of abuse. It was thought by all at the time that the free-kick should have been taken from where the forward was adjudged to have been offside and it was also thought that a free-kick for offside can never be given in a team's own half.

I've checked Rule 11 regarding offsides and indeed, it does state that a free-kick can be taken in certain circumstances inside a team's own half but due to the ambiguous wording of Rule 11, 4, it is not fully clear if yesterday's referee was correct or not. Needless to say me and the guy sitting next to me disagree with each other.

Can you confirm if the referee was correct?

Many thanks

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Graham,
my friend the LOTG were indeed changed to MOVE the INDFK for offside from where the POSITION was established that created his restriction ( which indeed must occur inside the opposition's half) to the POINT of where the involvement occurs (which can happen even inside your own half) .

The referee should have received no abuse as he was 100% correct.
The Offside restricted player returned to his own half as a RESTRICTED offside player.
Once a player is deemed a, (restricted player in an offside position) (RPIOP) NOTHING he can do on his own, CHANGES that RESTRICTION.
One of 3 things MUST occur to remove the offside restriction:
(1) relative to the 2nd last opponent or the ball itself in relationship to being nearer the opposing goal line he is no longer offside positioned WHEN teammate next touches the ball
(2) the opposition regains clear possession and control of the ball from a deliberate action
(3) The ball goes out of play and thus a new evaluation dependant on whose ball and what restart as corners goal kicks and throw-ins are exempt from offside. Free kicks are not!

Ball moves, people move, so things freeze framed to start the initial positional evaluation process wind up ending in much different positions for when or IF the INVOLVEMENT portion of offside was to occur. In this case the RPIOP went back into their own half and unfortunately became involved in active play before any of the 3 resets occurred! That LOCATION is the point of involvement which completes the offside two stage participation awarding an INDFK for the opposition from inside that player's own half lol .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Graham
The Laws of the Game change in July of each year after the annual AGM of IFAB the law making body.

Back in 2016 IFAB decided that it wanted to bring Law 11 in line with all the other laws in that the restart free kick should be taken from the location of the offence.
Offside is a two part offence in that there is offside position and then the second part of interfering with play or interfering with an opponent for an offence to be called. It is not an offence to be in an offside position so the 2nd part must be present and that is the location of the offence. That is where the IDFK should be taken from.

Now many times there is little distance between the offside position and the interfering with play or an opponent. Where there is a distance between the two the IDFK is taken from where the ball was played or where the PIOP interfered with an opponent that is when the offence was committed.

In your example the PIOP came from an offside position to interfere with play in his own half. Where the ball was played was the location where the offence occurred not his offside starting position.
To me Law 11 is very clear in that it states ** 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.**
So if you think about it a player cannot be in an offside position in his own half so the first part of offside was in the opponents half and the second part was in his own half so that second part is where the offence occurred and that is the location of the restart.

With all Laws changes there is a legacy position built up over a lifetime and very difficult to eradicate and to effect change.
I saw a very young referee hold off calling offside until the PIOP played the ball after a twenty yard run which was entirely correct. The opponents took a quick free kick from that location which the referee incorrectly stopped and moved the free kick back up to the location of the start of the run. The QFK was from the correct location. Despite learning the updated Law 11 the young ref was pre 2016 on the restart. So he must have learnt the old restart location from a very young age.
I would finish by saying that the referee by not restarting in the correct location would have been marked down by the match observer for not restarting from the correct location had he allowed that which he didn't .
So he was 100% correct and those that say that the referee was correct win the disagreement.
I recall a game a good few seasons ago where I insisted that a free kick taken inside the penalty area had to leave the penalty area for the ball to be played like a goal kick back in the day. A player challenged me on it during the game complaining that I was wrong so I bet him a 100 that I was right which he did not take me on. It ended the complaining lol with him saying something like you must be sure which I was. The current law changed all that so goal kicks and free kicks do not have to leave the penalty area to be in play. Funny how that change got accepted! Probably because it is quite common unlike the offside one.

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