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Question Number: 30480

Law 11 - Offside 6/5/2016

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30478

I appreciate the cleaning up of Laws, to make them more consistent throughout. On offside, though, we are still left with the inconsistency of what 'play the ball' means.

A player in an offside position can (apparently) make a 'dummy' play on the ball by just opening the legs and letting the ball run through to a rushing onside team-mate. Despite making perhaps a game-changing 'play' on the ball, the PIOP has not 'played' (touched) the ball.

Watching the women's Brazil-Canada friendly on June 4, I saw a few offside calls where the offside Brazilian attacker made a run at the ball after the flag went up¦ but the whistle went before there was contact with the ball.

I'm aware of the need to protect goalies from offside contact, by blowing the whistle before the offside player arrives but these were calls well away from the keeper.

Any clarification from the panel?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
Plays the ball IMO means what it says. A player stepping over the ball or avoiding it has not played the ball. A player though if through that particular action interferes with an opponent can be penalised under that part of Law 11 which states that a PIOP making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball shall be judged offside.
In addition Law 11 allows for an early flag on offside where it is more than likely that only the PIOP is going to play the ball. That is a judgement call call based on player positions and running patterns.
Have a look at this video
There was no possibility other than the PIOP playing the ball here so the early flag was acceptable and within the Law which states that a player in an offside position may be penalised before playing or touching the ball, if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball. There is no need to wait and see until the touch happens which can then involve possible contact. Indeed I think that the flag could have been earlier in this case.

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Offside Question?

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

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