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Question Number: 22586

Law 11 - Offside 11/25/2009

RE: Competitive Adult

Joe Iano of Seattle, WA USA asks...

Two white attackers are advancing with the ball in the opponent's penalty area, about level with the top of the goal area. The ball is then played back to another white attacker near the top of the penalty area. At this time, blue defenders step up, putting the first two white attackers in offside positions. Next, the third white attacker attempts to play the ball back to the two offside attackers, but the pass is intercepted by a blue defender. The ball arrives right to the feet of the defender, who has his back to the goal and the offside attackers. Immediately, the two offside attackers close down on the defender and attempt to gain the ball. Neither attacker plays the ball itself, as the defender shields the ball. The defender has control of the ball, but his ability to play the ball out of the area is affected by the offside attackers.

Offside offense for interfering with an opponent?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

As an assistant referee, I would wait and see if the atackers in fact interfere with the defender's ability to play the ball. If they do, they have interfered with an opponent, IMO. At some point, however, a defender's clear possession and control of the ball changes the status of the attackers so that they are permitted to again challenge for the ball.

The judgment call is affected by how close the attacking players are to the area of play when the defender begins to play the ball, the level of play, and the skills of the players.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

I personally believe that the offside law permits us to penalise players who are in an offside position but immediately pressure/challenge a defender who gains control of the ball. The judgement comes in when deciding if it's immediate enough to penalise, or if we can determine that a new phase of play has started from the defensive control.

If these players don't have much (or any) effect on play - say, the defender gets the ball away cleanly to a teammate or clears the ball up the field then chances are you'd allow play to continue.

In the scenario posted here the attackers placed immediate pressure on the defender and this affected his ability to play the ball - I'd say that's sufficient for interfering with an opponent.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Let me quote LOTG:

? "interfering with an opponent" means preventing an opponent
from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing
the opponent's line of vision or movements or making a gesture or
movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an
? "gaining an advantage by being in that position" means playing a ball
that rebounds to him off a goalpost or the crossbar having been in an
offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent
having been in an offside position

And from Advice 11.6 GAINING AN ADVANTAGE
'Gaining an advantage by being in an offside position' means playing a ball that rebounds to the player
off a post or crossbar or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside
position. It also means being near enough to the play to capitalize immediately on a defender's
mistake, having gained the advantage solely by being in the offside position. It is most often seen in
situations where the ball rebounds from the crossbar, goalposts, or 'keeper (whose contact with the ball
is not controlled).

Advice says if an offside positioned player is near enough to the play to capitalize immediately on a
defender's mistake he may be penalized for gaining a advantage.

Both LOTG and Advice describe interfering with an opponent in terms of preventing an opponent to play the ball or distract or deceive.

IMO what you describe does warrant interfering with an opponent. The crux seems to me if they were close enough to capitalize on an opponent's mistake and being guitly of gaining an advantage which I also don't see here as they never touched the ball

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Answer provided by Referee Debbie Hoelscher

I would agree with my esteemed colleagues. It would seem that based on what you describe there is a very high likelihood that this is an offside infraction.

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Offside Question?

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

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