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: 35492

Law 11 - Offside 5/5/2024



Good day gentlemen in the house. My question goes like this. If three (3) attackers are in an onside possition and one of them received the ball from a team mate, and the three attackers passes the ball to each other till a goal is scored, till the goal is scored no opponent took possession of any of them. Should the goal stands or there can still be an off-side within them before the goal is scored? Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Ibrahim,
Once all 3 attackers are inside the opposing half, moving towards the opposing goal line and there is no 2nd last opponent out ahead of them EACH and every touch of the ball by ANYONE of the 3 attackers resets or allows the offside restriction of the other two to become offside positioned considered or reset and/or stay onside.

When there is NO 2nd last defender/opponent to consider, then the BALL location becomes the focus of the AR as to declaring onside or offside position.

You see as the player dribbling/controlling the ball is on side, as long as the other two support players are IN behind the ball farther away from the opposing goal they are onside and any pass over to either is NOT offside. If the ball is passed out sideways , in front or backwards they can RUN onto it safely. Ball/pass direction is NOT relevant, ONLY the players' POSITION on the field of play at the moment the ball is last touched/played by the team mate!

If either of the other 2 support players move ahead of the ball when the team mate dribbling makes the next contact with the ball then they become restricted and until the next touch of the ball by that same team mate will once again reevaluate their current position.

EVERY single touch of the ball is a NEW freeze frame for determining position.
The fact is, either of the 2 support players can get ahead of the ball and run towards the goal actually BEING offside restricted through position but the dribbler/team mate is not passing to either he remains in control. The fact the other two are offside has no bearing because they are NOT interfering with play or opponent at THAT moment.

As long as they refrain from involvement their being ahead of the ball, closer to the opposing goal line in offside positions we simply do not care! WE only consider WHERE they are when the player WITH the ball last touches said ball. If they are onside they are free to participate and give chase. If they are restricted by their position having moved ahead of the ball BEFORE it was last touched they will be held accountable for their actions.

If they stay out of way, do not interfere with the keeper or any defending opponent or physical play the ball, no big deal but if they participate then an offside infringement becomes a reality.

What I think many people fail to grasp is how offside is reset!
You could in theory have 1 or 2 players camped out in the opposing PA at either side of the goal posts at say even with the 6 yard area completely offside positioned for almost the entire game! But now as a third teammate is dribbling the ball down field towards them, he touches the ball 5 times so 5 resets each time, the players were still offside positioned.

Before he takes a 6th touch the offside restricted players run by him and now the ball is closer to the opposing goal and there is no 2nd last opponent so they have changed their position to look onside.

HOWEVER they STILL can not be involved as they are still restricted by the FACT they were offside at the 5th last touch. Only once their teammate touches the ball a 6th time with them no longer in an offside position is that restriction lifted!

Lets say on his 6th touch, he shoots and the keeper saves, either one can shoot the rebound!
Lets say instead of shooting he slides a pass towards them or out in front, either of the two can run on to that ball and shoot!

A KEY moment when this NEW 7th last touch moment of the ball by this previously offside player who is no longer restricted occurs, neither the initial dribbler or the other teammate has found themselves into an offside position affecting play or interfering with an opponent!

If by chance, before, that 6th touch, if say the keeper slide out to stop the ball and it deflected out to either teammate of the dribbler without TOUCHING the dribbler and they chose to play that ball they are guilty of gaining an advantage and still offside restricted thus INDFK out because that was where the 5th touch which determined their position as a PIOP

Yet if that ball was say to rebound off the keeper and it deflected off the dribbler THAT counts as a LAST touch so then either team mate would be reset to onside status and free to pursue the ball.
Even if the attacker touches a ball unintentionally, it counts as a NEW last touch & the offside position of his team mates are reevaluated as yes they can be involved or no, they cannot be involved!
Whereas a defenders' deflection or save of a ball , does not wave away or reset any offside attackers' restrictions they remain as before.
Same applies to the attacking onside players, in there is no change that prevents their involvement!
What was still is! All status, (onside or offside) for attackers remains as it was before the defenders deflection/rebound of the ball.
ONLY a deliberate action by the defenders would nullify an opposing PIOPs restriction!


Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ibrahim
Law 11 tells us that a player is in an offside position if any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
So it is possible for any one of the three attackers to be in an offside position most likely in front of the ball. You do not mention the location of the opponents. If a second last opponent is present between the attackers and the goal line there is also no possible offside. So being in front io the ball with no opponents present puts any two of the three in an offside position and therefore restricted from playing the ball.

A referee has to evaluate each touch of the ball most likely a pass and if the receiver is ahead of the ball when it was played by one of the three that is offside if no opponents are present. The only way to stay onside is to stay BEHIND the ball when no opponents are present or alternatively if opponents are present to not go beyond the second last opponent at the moment the ball is played.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ibrahim,
In this scenario, the referee must assess the possibility of an offside offence each time any one of the players passes the ball to another. At the time of the pass, was the eventual recipient nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent?

If they were, then an offside offence occurs when they touch the ball. If they were not, then there is no offside offence.

Now, it's not clear from your description where the opponents are, but if all three players are already beyond the second-last opponent when this exchange of passes takes place, then it's a little simpler as you only need to know their position in relation to the ball.

In this situation, if at the time of any given pass, the player who subsequently receives the ball was behind the ball then there is no offside offence. However if they were ahead of the ball when the pass was made and then receive it, they would be guilty of an offside offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 35492
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 free 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. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>