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Question Number: 22859

Law 11 - Offside 2/23/2010

RE: Competative Under 19

Al Sinopoli of Covington, LA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 22844

As a follow-up to this, is the attacker outside of the field of play and in the goal considered to be on the goal line for purposes of the offside determination? This is implied by Ref. Voshol's answer, as he seems to imply that unless (2) defenders were on the goal line, the attacker that came out of the goal to head the ball would be offside.

In the advice on LOTG, there is a section dealing with the defender legally off the field of play being considered on the touch line or goal line nearest where he/she is out, but I didn't see anything expressed for offside position determination of an attacker legally off the field.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Hi, Al.

There is a difference between offside and offside position, as I'm sure you are aware. In the scenario, the attacker is inside the area bounded by the net and the goal line. He is considered to be on the goal line for purposes of determining offside position, if for no other reason than as soon as he enters the field, offside position is again a consideration.

However, we must also know whether there were any defenders also on or considered to be on the goal line. If so, then he cannot be in an offside position, as he is even with the last two defenders.

We don't know if the attacker who came out of the goal mouth was offside or not. All we can do is explore the various and sundry possibilities. If the ball the attacker played into the goal was last played or controlled by a defender, it doesn't matter whether he was in an offside position or not.

So, depending on circumstances not detailed in the original answer, we can't know whether the attacker was guilty of offside or not. If one takes the AR's recitation of facts as correct, which they generally are, and assuming the ball the attacker played was from his own teammate, then yes, he was at that point offside (also assuming no defenders on the goal line).

Does that help?

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Referee Sinopoli
There is the explicit assumption in Law 11 that for an attacker to become involved in active play he/she has to be on the field of play to play/touch the ball. There is one caveat which is mentioned in Law 11
""If an attacking player remains stationary between the goalposts and inside the goal net as the ball enters the goal, a goal must be awarded. However, if the attacking player distracts an opponent, the goal must be disallowed, the player cautioned for unsporting behaviour and play restarted with a dropped ball from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was locatedwhen play was stopped.""
The point for determining offside has to be the goal line for any attacker off the field of play that is coming back on from behind the goal line after the ball was played by a team mate.
The reason that the off the field defender is specifically mentioned is to deal with those situations where the defender stays off the FOP and to place them on the goal line for offside determination. The defender could decide to stay off the FOP if he/she felt that it was advantageous from an offside perspective if that clause was not present. It is now formally in the Laws with the addition of the clause this season
'Any defending player leaving the field of play for any reason without the referee's permission shall be considered to be on his own goal line or touch line for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play. If the player leaves the field of play deliberately, he must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.'
To give an example, Let's say a forward stayed off the field of play behind the goal line. A ball is kicked forward by a team mate towards him with all the defenders now outside the PA. The attacker then steps on the FOP to play the ball. That is offside and the point of the infraction is the goal line. If he does not come back on the FOP it is a goal kick. The law does not need to spell that out but makes the assumption.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The Laws discuss the defender who leaves the field of play, and the attacker who does so for tactical reasons. They do not discuss casual leaving the field in the normal course of play.

USSF Advice to Referees discusses the difference between tactical leaving and casual leaving in 11.8 and 11.9. From 11.9 on casual leaving the field: 'If an attacking player passes beyond the boundary line for a moment in order to avoid an offside, but then re-enters the field of play and joins in the game and plays the ball that has been passed by a teammate, that player should be penalized for offside.' Not cautioned.

Advice 11.12 is a special case of the player inside the goal net, which is also addressed by the Laws Interpretations & Guidelines on page 101. In both of these cases the player stays there, does not return to the field, and then distracts the goalkeeper. The offense is not offside, but unsporting behavior (I&G p. 115 or Advice 12.28.1, 'verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart').

If a player casually passes beyond the goal line into the net, and then returns, he would be liable for offside under Advice 11.9.

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