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Question Number: 27906

Law 11 - Offside 10/18/2013

RE: Competitive Under 18

John of Foxboro, MA USA asks...

A ball is played forward in the air by the white team. A white team forward is in an offside position behind a blue team defender. The white team player does not challenge for the ball and allows the blue team player to head the ball. The blue player misplays the ball somewhat and heads the ball straight up. The white team forward then challenges for the ball. Should the forward be called offside at that point? What are the considerations involved?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
From what you describe the Blue defender has misplayed the ball which in my opinion can be considered a deflection / rebound and not a reset of offside. Once the White attacker then moves into challenge for the ball immediately that is interfering with an opponent and offside should be called.
Now this should not be confused with a deliberate header by the Blue defender which does reset offside.
Sometimes there is a very fine line between what is deemed to be a deliberate play and what is not. Heading the ball straight up in the air could be considered a rebound and is then not considered control compared to a deliberate header that happens to go astray.
Have a look at this video. Is the header here a deliberate play or a rebound?
FIFA has decide it is a rebound

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

This is a gray area in the new definition of 'gaining an advantage.'
The referee must decide if the blue defender made a deliberate play (not a save) by heading the ball. If so, the white attacker may challenge for the ball.
As before, if the referee decides that the ball only deflected off the blue defender, then the white attacker in offside position is ineligible to play the ball.

My belief is that the factors in deciding the differences include how much time and space the defender had to act. The less time and space, the more likely the decision should be deflection. Note: when FIFA released the new definition, they included an video example of a defender heading a ball that went toward an attacker in offside position. The accompanying notes said this was an example of a deliberate play.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

This is still a grey area but in my opinion, this was a deliberate play on the ball and constituted control. This resets offside and the OSP is now free to challenge for the ball

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

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