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Question Number: 29116

Law 11 - Offside 1/19/2015

RE: Recreational Adult

Russell Montgomery of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

I am keen to hear the panels thoughts on the goal scored in the recent Asia Cup match " Iran v UAE.

Iran scored in the dying moments to take victory (and the important top spot in the group stages).

While the scores was onside, a team mate who also attempted to play the ball, looks to be offside. Considering he made an attempt to play the ball, and his position in relation to the line of sight for the keeper (and the influence he may have made on the keeper) - would it be unreasonable for the AR to raise a flag.

Thinking of it in another way, if the scorer was not actually there - would the flag have stayed down?

Of course he didn't get to the ball and a wise and patient AR would hold off as long as possible to see what happens.

Based on what DID happen, is there an argument for offside in this play?


Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,

Interesting question here, especially given how much the offside law and interpretations change. I'm going to look at 2 possibilities: Interfering with Play and Interfering with an Opponent.

The Laws state:
"interfering with play" means playing or touching the ball passed or
touched by a team-mate
"interfering with an opponent" means preventing an opponent from
playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's
line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball

Can 'Playing' the ball mean attempting to touch, or dummying the ball? It's a fair question - after all, surely 'touching' the ball would have bee sufficient in the wording. But given the wording elsewhere in Law 11, I'm not convinced that FIFA really intended to have that separate meaning.

Interfering with an opponent seems, at first glance, more likely - but we're limited to 'obstructing the opponent's line of vision' or 'challenging an opponent for the ball'.
The keeper wasn't being challenged for the ball, so the question is whether his line of vision was obstructed. The referees, with their lower viewpoint, would probably have a better idea about this, but given the ball was coming from overheard, I think it's unlikely the keeper's view is blocked.

So I don't think an offence has been committed, by the letter of the law.

I do agree that having that attacker attempt to head the ball would be very distracting for the keeper - and in recent years, motions that distract an opponent were sufficient for an offside infringement to have occurred. But not anymore - and while this may be unfair for the defence when the attacking team has clearly benefitted from the attacker being in the offside position and trying to play the ball, the laws as currently written allow the goal.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
No offside here. The player in an offside position has not interfered with play by touching the ball nor did he interfere with an opponent by challenging for the ball nor did he interfere with the goalkeeper's line of sight to the ball. So the only decision is a goal under the current Law 11 interpretation.
In the past this might / would have been called for making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent. That wording was removed from the Laws in 2013 and replaced by *challenging an opponent for the ball*. As there was no challenge there was no offside.
I might add it was poor defending with one player slow to come out playing some attacking players onside. It also shows the folly of pressing out when there is the possibility of the ball coming back in to unmarked attackers.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

There were 2 offside players, one was not a factor, the OTHER one trying to head the ball and missing may well have been deemed interfering with play but there was the onside goal scorer and when there are onside and offside players attempting to play the ball we are instructed to WAIT for a touch. UNLESS we deem the offside player was involved in a manner which FITS offside criteria. The only one that MIGHT have applied is he did look possibly to be in the line of sight of the keeper but in my humble opinion the AR followed the explicit directions from FIFA, unless you are 100% sure you keep the flag down, I think it was a gusty and more importantly an absolutely correct call.
The result was not worthy of the effort. I thought the UAE deserved more but effort counts for naught unless you score more goals.

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Offside Question?

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

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