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Question Number: 27898

Law 11 - Offside 10/16/2013

RE: Adult

Tony of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

My question to the Panel is to do with the changes this year in the interpretation section of the laws of the game with regard to offside.

It seems there has been a major change to the interpretation for offside as opposed to a clarification of what we are already doing.

It is all around trying to define what is a deflection. FIFA have tried to define this in 2013/2014.

In the recent past up until 2013/2014 a deflection has been interpreted as "not controlled possession" In the AFR it states a number of ways that a player may become onside and one of those is when "the ball is played by a defender (possessed and controlled)."

So a defender who makes a deliberate play for the ball e.g. by sticking his leg out but the ball deflects off his leg or foot or any other body part to an attacker in an offside position then the attacker would be penalised for offside. The reason being for the offside is that the ball was not possessed nor controlled by the defender and the offside player has gained an advantage by being in an offside position.

The 2013/2014 interpretation now states:

"Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball

i. that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an
opponent having been in an offside position

ii. that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save
by an opponent having been in an offside position

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who
deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered
to have gained an advantage"

So if a defender sticks his leg out wildly towards the ball he has made a deliberate play at the ball and the ball is deflected to an attacker in an offside position then from 2013/2014 he is now onside. The AFR words "Possessed and controlled" should no longer apply.

The fact that the goalkeeper is singled out for exemption when attempting a save reinforces that control is no longer a criteria for 'deliberately plays' for a defender.

A rebound or deflection for all players except the goalkeeper, now is just that, ie there is no intent to play the ball. The ball hits the defender and goes to an attacker in an offside position then this would be offside as it is now.

Is this how the Panel sees the implications of the FIFA 2013/2014 changes to the Offside interpretation in this area

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tony
IFAB has clarified Law 11 through a change to the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees.
The first change relates to the removal of 'deceives or distracts' and replaced it with 'challenging an opponent for the ball'. That IMO is a significant help as it should bring greater clarity to this. Is the PIOP challenging the opponent is now the only question that has to be answered. I believe most referees will find it easier to interpret what is a challenge than to interpret if the opponent was "deceived or distracted"
On the second change that related to a problem in certain parts of the world with referees interpreting saves by the goalkeeper as a deliberate play reseting offside. That is patently wrong yet the previous wording gave some wriggle room on this. Not any longer. What the change has also done is focussed in on the difference between a deflection and a deliberate kick perhaps were both end up with the same outcome. In general once the player deliberately kicks the ball offside is reset. That is not to be confused with the ball that deflects off the player and there can be a fine line here.
Have a look at these videos by clicking on the video icon at the bottom of the screen
In the past perhaps the kick in Video 4 might have been called offside and in Video 5 the kick is seen as a deflection and offside. Whether one could define it as a deliberate play would be extremely doubtful given that the ball goes off his foot between his legs. So the ball deflecting off the stuck out leg or glancing off the top of the head is not a reset
BTW when I looked at Video 3 I thought it was a deflection but when I looked at it closely the Blue player makes a deliberate header which goes astray to a player who was in an offside position. That is not offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I don't see any real change here. The reason IFAB included goalkeeper saves is that referees were wrongly considering GK saves to be controlled, which they are not and we have not viewed them as resetting offside in the past, nor should we now,
Law 11 still reads that an opponent must control the ball in order to reset offside. Sticking a leg out and deflecting the ball does not reset offside

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Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 27898
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 27918

See Question: 28200

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

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