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Question Number: 12022

Law 11 - Offside 1/3/2006

RE: Competitive High School

Diana of West Bloomfield, MI USA asks...

Regarding offside, the following 2 situations always bother me. #1 Attacking team gets a free kick. Defensive team makes a wall 10 yards from the kick. Ball is kicked. Can the attackers start running as soon as the ball is kicked or must they wait for the ball to travel past them? #2 Offside on a goal kick. Huge long goal kick sailing over everyone's heads. Forwards stationed at half way line. Do they have to wait for the ball to go past them before they can make their run? Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Victor Matheson

Question 1: the ball is in play as soon as it is touched and moves a fracction of an inch. As soon as the ball is in play, the defenders can move towards the ball.

Question 2: there is never offside on a goal kick. Not only do they not have to wait for the ball to pass over their heads, they can actually start out anywhere on the field and not have to worry about being called offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

Diana -- 1) The attackers can move as soon as the ball is touched by their teammate. If they were all onside at the time of that touch, they cannot be called offside if they beat the defensive wall. The AR must have their wits about them as this can APPEAR very deceiving. (Parents/spectators, coaches and players need to understand this as well. The AR, if they are positioned as they are supposed to be, will usually be the only one that will truly be able to judge this....not the coaches (standing at the halfway line, nor the parents -- who weren't watching the 2nd to last defender and the attacker(s) in question at the time of the touch, and certainly not the players who are too close to the forest to see the trees -- as it were.) The attackers may beat all of the defenders to the ball (provided they were all onside at the touch of the teammate's ball) behind that line and then APPEAR to be offside....REMEMBER: offside is judged soley on the position of the attacker(s) without the ball at the time that their teammate touches the ball. NOT where they receive the ball. 2) There is no infraction of offside directly from a goal kick, corner kick or throw in. Therefore, the attackers can set up anywhere. Hope this helps.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Diana,
on any free kick the same as in ongoing play offside position is judged at the moment the ball is played or touched by the teammate. The timing of the run is a matter of tactical understanding that the defenders CANNOT move closer than the 10 yards and the attackers must not be closer to the opponent's goalline than the second last defender when that ball is finally struck and moves.

Walls set only at ten yards can not move forward until that ball is struck making it impossible for an attacker to be offside position if he is in front of the wall. For that attacker to be offside positioned the defenders would be quilty of infringing the 10 yards. Tactically a line is held further back and there is available distance for the defenders to move upfield prior to the kick being taken.

A goal kick is one of THREE special circumstances where NO player can be held guilty for being in an initial offside position. These exemptions can place attacking players well in behind the 2nd last defender in offside positions . PROVIDED the ball reaches them DIRECTLY or by a deflection off a defender off the direct goal kick, corner kick, or throw in we have no infraction. Cheers

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Offside Question?

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

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