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Question Number: 28723

Mechanics 9/11/2014

RE: Rec Adult

Thomas Nguyen of Garden Grove, CA United States asks...

Dear Mr. Ref,

I have 2 questions:

1. If the ball goes out of bound and is not being played while out of of bound by any players, is the assistant ref required to raise the flag straight up first and then to give the direction for thrown-in OR just to give the direction? (my colleague and I are having a dispute: he said that we have to raise the flag straight up whenever the ball goes out of bound, regardless it's being played or not).

2. Offside: here is the situation, player A was in the offside position when her teammate kicked the ball toward the opposition's goal. The ball traveled at a high arc and took a while to reach the goal. While the ball was in the air, player A retreated back to the onside position, then the ball bounced off the cross bar and to her direction. Player A then proceeded to the ball and was the first player who touched the ball. Should she be flagged for offsite infraction?

Thank you, Mr. Ref. You've been very helpful.

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

1. The flag should go straight up only when it is necessary to indicate to the referee: blow the whistle and stop play. That usually happens when the ball goes out and then immediately back in to play.

2. There is nothing a player in offside position can do to make themselves eligible to play the ball. Running back to an offside position is irrelevant. The key is whether the player is in an onside position when the ball is next touched by a teammate.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Thomas thanks for the questions.
Point 1
If the decision is an OBVIOUS one the assistant can make a direct signal rather than go through the whole procedure. The straight flag up is more to make everyone aware the ball is IN FACT out of play. The ball sitting in the stands is usually a good indicator as well! Just be sure the flag is in the correct hand or you will look foolish as you try to cross it over your chest or switch hands and grin embarrassingly lol

Point 2 is a clear offside infringement provided the crossbar was not a football crossbar with a double bar, because the ball was always in play, nothing has occurred which resets the offside.
NOTHING a restricted offside player once determined at that critical moment when the team mate last touched the ball can do ON THEIR OWN will reset offside! They can not return to onside! They can place themselves in a position to be within their own half or no longer closer to the opponent's goal line than the second last defender but they still are prohibited from active play.

There are only three stages of play that could allow a offside restricted player to rejoin active play.

One - a NEW teammate's touch of the ball
(1) Condition one requires the former restricted offside player to no longer be in an offside position when this new touch occurs. Offside reset occurs at ANY teammate touch of the ball deliberate or accidental creating a NEW phase of play with a freeze frame snap shot of the new positioning of the players on the field
Two - opposing player deliberately plays or gains controls of the ball
(2) Condition two must simply occur, offside position is not part of the equation because condition one no longer applies the former restricted offside player can legally contest ball possession if his opponents now have actually touched the ball with unchallenged control/possession which frees a previously restricted offside positioned attacker to rejoin active play no matter his position on the field
BUT---: yup there is a but, a WAVE if you like, in our sea of tranquility
If the opponent/defender touch of the ball is deemed in the opinion of the officials to be a deflection/rebound or a deliberate save this WILL NOT RESET nor change an attacking opponents restricted offside status!
Three - the ball goes out of play
(3) Condition three requires a restart of play!
Three restarts are free from any offside criteria by either team (Throw-in, corner kick, goal kick) where position is NOT a factor at the moment of the kick
A NEW positional offside evaluation will occur ONLY from the team taking the kick be it indk or direct as there is a new touch of ball by the attacking team/or team mates. The opponents are exempt because condition two now applies

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Thomas
When it is clear that the ball has gone out of play and direction only is required by the assistants signal then direction only is what is recommended. Raise the flag in the direction of the throw at a 45 degree angle.
If the ball returns to play instantly the AR may be required to raise the flag immediately to signal the ball out of play and then point direction by dropping the flag to 45 degrees provided of course the AR has got the hand right to begin with. That though is rare with most times the ball stays out of play.
If the AR is unsure of the direction of the throw then a straight up flag is appropriate and then follow the direction given by the referee by dropping it right or left to 45 degrees.
I would also suggest that straight up all the time could confuse as the raised flag is part of the signal for offside and a foul by the AR. In fact in some associations ARs do not flutter the flag on a foul but rather raise it and then point direction.
I would also suggest that your colleague has not been paying too much attention to the referee or assistants in high level games such as the World Cup. Here is Darren Cann AR who was assistant in the 2010 WC final signalling two throw ins close to each other
Also while slightly dated this USSF video shows the correct signalling as demonstrated by AR Cann
On your second question the decision is offside for gaining an advantage by being in that position. The player in an offside position can not put herself back onside by any action that she may make. The only way that she can participate in play again is either the ball goes out of play, a new phase of play begins with a touch by an onside player or the opponents gain control of the ball unchallenged by the player in an offside position.

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


I am pretty sure you win the bet on flag raising; depending on the wording of the bet.

At least 90% of the times the ball goes out of bounds, the assistant referee (A/R) knows, who touched the ball last. The primary job of the A/R is to assist the ref by indicating to him that the ball went out of play and as a bonus to let him know, who touched it last. Since the referee usually runs the diagonal system, the A/R will be closer to the action in his 'quadrant'. So if the A/R runs with right winger, the ball is in his 'quadrant' when the right winger has the ball and away from him when the left winger has it. But he is always in a good position to see either along the touch line or goal line when the ball leaves the field of play, especially if he is diligent in keeping up with the ball.

If the ball was in his quadrant just before it went out of play, meaning that in all likelihood he was CLOSER to the action than the referee, then he is charged with indicating, who touched the ball last. If, and only if, he is sure, who touched the ball last (and he should know if the ball was in his quadrant), he indicates it by showing the direction of the throw-in, goal kick, corner kick or goal. There is no reason to stick the flag up - by indicating the result of the out of bounds, in that one motion he is telling everybody, including the ref, that the ball went out of bounds, who touched the ball last and what the restart will be. Economy of motion.

And just for interest, the A/R, should always glance at the ref just before indicating direction. Nothing more embarrassing than A/R pointing one way while the ref is already pointing the other way!

However, if it went out of bounds far away from the A/R, in the referee's quadrant or if he is not sure, who touched it last, he must indicate that ball has gone out of bounds. That's when the flag goes straight up. The A/R then simply lowers his flag and lets the referee take charge by indicating the restart. I know, most times the A/R will mimick the referee's decision but really that is not necessary.

Now the good old offside.

The officials should note when the ball is kicked if anybody is in an offside position. If a player in an offside position becomes active in that phase of play, she is penalized for being in an offside position. That's what happened here. Guilty your Honour!

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