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Question Number: 35360

Law 11 - Offside 2/27/2024

RE: Under 18

Dean of Birmingham , Uk asks...

An attacker crosses the ball try to find a striker. The striker is an offside position but it is tight so the defenders do not know if he is definitely offside. The assistant referee can see that he is definitely offside.
Because it is tight, a defender slides in to stop the attacker scoring the goal. But the defender knocks it into his own net for an own goal.
If the offside attacker had not been there the defender would not have slid in and then would not have scored this own goal. Or if the defender had let the ball go and the attacker scored it would also have been flagged offside. So should this goal count as a goal or be flagged as offside.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Dean,
a most excellent question.
Based on your description I can tell you it will likely count as an own goal 99% of the time!

WE must first judge the position as a freeze frame snap shot in relationship to the opposing goal line, 2nd last opponent, and the ball. Once we we decide if he is a PIOP (player in an offside position ) we now decide, does that PIOP choose to get involved in play & personally interfere with the ability of any defender to challenge for or get to the ball at any point prior to the own goal?

Understand this VERY important fact!
ABSOLUTELY NOTHING a defender does or thinks plays ANY part in deciding if an opponent is interfering! We judge the action of the PIOP in what they do to get involved . A defender choosing to mark a PIOP is a poor tactical choice.

Now it is plausible a PIOP can interfere with a defender by challenging and being so close or getting in the way! If it is easily observable, that the PIOP is participating and truly involved in the outcome as in screening the keeper by simply standing in a bad position blocking line of sight, nudging or making contact or directly forcing the opponent to have to avoid him in order to get to the ball like a basketball pick or both challenging for a header and they clash or a defender clearance kicks at the ball only to have it blocked by the immediate challenge of the PIOP. In his grill so to speak. THAT will be seen as interference by the PIOP .

However a defender choosing to run towards and chase or attempt to stop a through ball and that PIOP is not preventing any action to do so the PIOP has NOT interfered despite the fact the defender chose to mark him. Now if the PIOP actually made physical contact with the ball then the PIOP has interfere with play.

In cases where a defender might deflect or have a ball rebound off of him and say it was saved or hit the post and then the PIOP went to play it that is offside gaining an advantage. Yet if the defenders' deliberate attempt resulted in a direct goal that unfortunately is a good goal restart kick off! Why? Because the PIOP, although perhaps in the thinking of why the defender chose to do as he did, actually did nothing at all.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dean
Thanks for the question
Law 11 tells us that it is not an offence to be in an offside position. That is the starting point on every offside consideration. That was always the case yet in days well past offside position was a key consideration. In the modern game to be called as offside a player in an offside position has to either play the ball or to interfere with an opponent a player in an offside position must meet one of the five conditions set out in the offside Law. They are

# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
# challenging an opponent for the ball or
# clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
# making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball or
# gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
** rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent
** been deliberately saved by any opponent

So can we say that in your example that any one of the 5 conditions was met.
Without seeing it I would say that if it was not called there was a distance between the player in an offside position and the defender who scored so that none of the five conditions could be met hence no offside.

We see it all the time at free kick set pieces where attackers will set up in an offside position to avoid close marking and then only participate in the 2nd phase of play by then in an onside position. Defenders will still play the ball yet offside will only be called when one the five condition is met. PIOPs will avoid meeting the conditions.

In a recent question 35351 a somewhat related question was posed
See the incident at 1.30 in the attached video

The sliding Blue defender tries to stop the cross going into the goal area and he is deemed to have handled the ball so a penalty was awarded. Had the ball gone to the PIOP in the middle without the handling by the defender it probably might have been called offside. As the handball happened before any possible offside call none of the 5 conditions were made on the sliding defender so there was no possible offside. He may have been preventing the ball going to a PIOP yet that is not enough for offside.
The argument in that question was somewhat similar to your situation. Blue is trying to stop the ball going to a PIOP yet that is not enough for offside to be called as none of the 5 conditions was met. Hence the penalty call not the offside.

We can debate all day long about the merits of the current offside Law yet the game wants to limit offside to defined situations other than just being in an offside position.
For those of us old enough to remember the late Jeff Astle’s goal for West Brom against Leeds in 1971 when West Brom’s Suggett was in a clear offside position and flagged by the AR. Suggett was deemed by Referee Tinkler not to be interfering with an opponent as Tony Brown never played the ball to him nor was he interfering with any defender hence the decision to allow Brown to continue which in my opinion was entirely correct. It would not be questioned today yet the interfering principle was there even in 1971 just that it was rarely used. It was not an offence then and still is not one to be in an offside position.
As an aside I thought Jeff Astle may have been in an offside position ahead of the ball when he scored on the pass from Brown inside the penalty area yet the AR was supposedly stood at half way so we will never know!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Dean,

These are a contentious issue, but by your description it's definitely a goal.

Most people are aware that 'interfering with an opponent' is one of the ways a player can be penalised for offside. However while the average viewer may look at something like that and think that the attacker interfered with an opponent by being there, the LOTG definition is actually quite strict - and means the definition of the law here is much tighter than what one might think it means colloquially.

Through various circulars, pieces of guidance and other documents IFAB have been very clear that an attacker influencing a defender's decision - even drawing them out of position - is not an offence. Defenders are responsible for their own decision, and IFAB have the view that the defender should be aware they are in an offside position. Now, regardless of what you think of that reasoning, it is clear that simply being there and forcing a defender to try play the ball is insufficient.

Not to mention, that if a defender has played the ball - that is, they've either controlled it or they should have been able to, considering all factors - offside is cancelled anyway.

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