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Question Number: 27946

Law 11 - Offside 10/28/2013

RE: Rec Under 13

BGK of Tulsa, Oklahoma USA asks...

We just had a game where there were a bunch of players around our goal. The side ref called offsides after the opposing team scored, but after conferring with the main ref for a few minutes the main ref said the goal was good. When asked for an explanation, she only replied she didn't see what I saw. The main ref was some 20 yards away, so the side judge definitely had a better perspective. Does the main ref have authority to overrule an offsides call like that? It caused us to take a loss instead of a tie.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright


The proper name for the 'side ref' is 'Assistant Referee'. That describes their job - to assist the referee. Every time they raise their flag they are simply offering an opinion to the referee, and the referee has the final say on whether to act. So yes, the referee can always overrule the AR.

It doesn't often happen, but I've had a few situations where I've had to overrule my AR for various reasons. There's a few possible reasons why the AR's flag may have been overruled - the AR may have thought a different player touched it to what the referee thinks, or the referee may have seen a controlling touch by the defence. It's possible the flag was for interfering with an opponent and after discussion the referee did not believe an opponent was interfered with. These are just a few possible situations, but not being there I can't give a definite answer. Sometimes it can be difficult for the AR to accurately keep track of who's touching the ball - and when (don't forget - offside is reset at every attacking touch) - in a crowded area, and sometimes his view can be completely blocked.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Assistant referees do not make decision, the referee does. The referee has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.
To carry out that role he can be helped by assistant referees and a 4th official. The Laws allow for up to 4 assistants to be used.
Now as I said assistant referees do not make any decisions. They signal to the referee and based on that signal the referee can decide to accept the signal or decline it.
When a signal is doubtful the referee may speak with the assistant to ascertain what he saw.
Now in your example the AR has a side on view and in the goalmouth that can typically be 25 /30 yards whereas the referee can be much closer. Also while the side on view gives a good perspective on offside positioning it can also not pick up important parts of play such as who kicked the ball
Have a look at this video at 4.00 onwards

The assistant referee raises his flag as he believes he has seen offside. The referee though has seen that a Green player has clearly kicked the ball to the Blue player in an offside position so it cannot be offside and the referee correctly allows play to continue and a goal is scored. The AR has seen that the referee has overruled him and promptly drops the flag.
Greens complain that the flag was raised for offside and that they stopped playing. However from an early age players are told to play to the whistle not the flag. Totally correct decision by the referee and an example of an overrule.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

First, the Assistant Referee makes no decisions. They are always up to the Referee who may accept the advice of the AR or not.
Second, no single call by the referee will cause a team to win, lose, or tie. Players decide the outcomes of games not the referees.

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