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Question Number: 30594

Law 11 - Offside 7/12/2016

RE: Any Other

former youth ref of Hordaland, Norway asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30590

I know that office is recalculated at every touch by a team-mate, but the laws of the game give me the clear impression that the attacking player would be be considered to be on the goal line for every play until 'the next stoppage in play, or the defending team has played the
ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area'. Clearly you don't share that view. The wording does not seem required by your view, as any defensive play or attacking touch would recalculate offside with the players real position.
I believe the intent of the law is to make a player re-entering the field unable to take part in the rest of the same attack. E.g.: Our player leaves the field of play to avoid interfering with an upcoming shot. The shot hits the post. Our player re-enters the field as the ball reaches another attacker near the corner area. Ball is crossed in, deflected up into the air by a defensive player (from the defensive touch the ball remains in the penalty area), headed by an attacking player to our player whose real position is onside. Our player scores.
I believe this goal is offside under the new rules as written, and that this is IFAB's intent. I arrive at this conclusion in part by comparing with the defenders covered by the same wording. What am I missing?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The new amendment is to deal with attacking and defending players that deliberately move off the field of play to show that they are not involved in active play. It also deals with the defender injury scenario.
In the next phase of play the player that deliberately left could come back onto the field of play without the other team being aware and then receive a pass or make a challenge. The player through that action could gain a non-offside advantage when returning which is deemed unfair. It also deals with the need to caution for returning without permission as if the ball is cleared away then there is no need for a caution and the player simply returns. If there is no offside and the player gains an advantage it is a caution and an IDFK restart.
If the player has just moved off the FOP as part of a playing movement and returns immediately Law 11 has not changed. It is just evaluated as normal.
I recall a number of years ago a situation in an underage game. It was near the end of the game and Reds were leading and on the attack. Ball was cleared by the GK on a punt and then all Green players went forward to try to equalise. What I did not realise was that a Green player went down with cramp at his goal post and moved just off the FOP at the post. Anyway Red regained the ball and played it forward to a Red attacker who was clearly in an offside position so I called offside. Cue uproar from the Red bench as they point to the Green defender lying at the side of the goalpost. Under the previous law there was no offside with the a Green player injured off the FOP without permission. This amendment now deals with that although I believe the must caution is harsh in an injury situation.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa

I did a little digging into your question and actually posed your scenario to a pair of FIFA ARs. Here was there general response:

The terms "...until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside of their penalty area" are guidelines for defining when a "phase of play" ends (which is different than the sequence of snapshots used to determine offside).

Here is how that terminology is applied:

If the defender is injured off the field of play, he continues to be counted as one of the two defenders until the ball gets cleared upfield (not just to the top of the penalty area). At that point, the AR can consider him off the field and go to the next defender up as the second to last defender. No longer do you have to wait until the next stoppage.

If the attacker goes off the field of play to avoid being involved in active play, then he cannot re-enter until that phase of play is over.... defined as the ball cleared up-field and out of the penalty area. So you may have other offside decisions while the ball is kicked around within the penalty area, but that player cannot partake.

In both situations, the player needs to be beckoned onto the field of play by the referee when that phase of play is over.

Now practically, there are a couple of things to consider. First, if the attacker left the field of play during the normal course of the play (running around to get the ball), then it is considered normal and play continues. The attacker has to leave to avoid being in active play. Second, the attacker off the field of play is considered to be on the goal line, so theoretically, if there are two other defenders also on the goal line, then that attacker is even, and thus onside. Practically, though, what that means is that you have to have two different defenders with a foot on the line or a torso over the line for this to be onside. If you look at corner kicks or set plays, when you have a defender on a post, they are always a little bit up from the line. Rarely, do you have someone standing on the line. So if even one defender is a foot or two ahead of the line, then the attacker who is considered to be on the goal line will then be in an offside position.

So, what are the suggestions for applying this in your games?

1. if the guy pops off and back on during the normal course of play, just keep focusing on offside. It's normal.

2. If the guy goes off and pauses there to not be involved, then just make sure he doesn't come back on and immediately interfere with play or an opponent until that phase of play is over. Even be preventive and yell at the guy that he cannot re-enter yet.

Hopefully that provides a clearer answer for you. In your scenario above, the player would technically have been offside. But since they were never beckoned back on to the field, they could also be cautioned for entering without the referees permission. We need to be very careful when determining whether the attacker left under the normal course of play or on his own.

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