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Question Number: 30929

Law 11 - Offside 10/20/2016

Stewart of Livermore, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30926

Thanks for your responses. Much appreciated. Now continuing this theme. What is the appropriate procedure for an AR to follow on the long ball where there is a question if the pursuing offensive player is on side or not? Say there is a long ball on the far side of the field away from the AR. In this instance the CR will likely be running to catch up to play and have his back (or at least his side) to the AR. If the CR glances to the AR and the AR is chasing play, the CR will not know if the attacking player is offside or not. As an AR, when I see the CR give me a look I will give him a palm up with my none flag hand in the direction I am running to indicate the player was on side. This seems appropriate to me, as now the CR knows to focus on play, not me, and it also lets everyone else who is looking at me for a call know that I am on top of things and there will be no call. I have read that these types of 'non-sanctioned' signals should not be used. Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stewart,

My basic answer remains the same as before: ''The AR must be in line with the second-last defender or the ball if it is nearer to the goal line than the second-last defender.''

If and when an offside offence occurs, raise your flag. You say there is a question over whether the player was in an offside position or not and if there is a long ball, even if the player chasing the ball was in an offside position, neither you nor the referee know whether he will become involved in active play so you should maintain the recommended positioning until it becomes clear what the outcome is.

As for hand signals, the law says the following:

''As a general rule, the AR should not use obvious hand signals. However, in some instances, a discreet hand signal may assist the referee. The hand signal should have a clear meaning which should have been agreed in the pre-match discussion.''

I think this is good advice and pretty much self-explanatory.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Stewart
The idea of a team is everyone is on the same page, well trained and equally proficient in understanding the dynamics . To develop good habits those habits must be reinforced. Hand signals, IF not used regularly do become an issue because you or they will forget or they are not the immediately go to remedy you might wish was instigated or they could think of!

With the pro radio communications it is far easier to communicate quietly and effectively then those officials slogging in out in the recreational trench's with a variety of experienced or inexperienced officials at various stages along the learning curve or as a single official. The use of hand signals requires an experienced, well coordinated crew and a solid well manage pregame to be sure what the CR expects is the same as the AR understands is required.

The basic thumbs up, the fingers up wave or point to mouth for come here we need to talk, the chest tap for a yellow, the back pocket reach for a red, a throat grab for get a grip , match is slipping away, call it tighter. A simple head nod for yes or a slight swing turn for no. Although with the fact offside can now be restarted in the culprits own half a back and forth hand turn over wave, as in over and back, pointing to the restart location, might be justified?

Although I see NO need as an AR to indicate to the CR that the player is onside or offside UNTIL it is time to raise the flag WHEN the involvement occurs. If you as CR are convinced this is useful that would be your decision to communicate it to your ARS and be sure they grasp exactly why and when. MOST CRs trust the ARs with offside as it is their primary focus and the AR is usually best situated to make an intelligent decision. Given you follow the 2nd last defender or the BALL when tracking the touchlines. Think to, if we develop a way to signal there is no OPP, smart defending players could use this as a tactical advantage to change their minds hey our trap did not work rather then reward a smart attacking run, we encourage defensive pursuit.
If anything the CR could HELP the AR in situations (blue attacking red defending) where the ball is NOT deliberately played or is deliberately saved by stating BALL LAST OFF BLUE off a red deflection or save or BALL LAST OFF RED when deliberately played in tight quarters where he can envision the AR maybe screened as to how a ball pops out in behind the defence.

Yes we do try to maintain eye contact as often as we can at every restart and after each stoppage but it takes time for those participating to have this ingrained in as muscle memory, as a habit they can not shake.

I am troubled by the idea you think the CR is torn between you and focusing on play? The CR must always be focused on play and grasp that options are open to different outcomes because he can not track everyone's movements. The CR CAN however, have FAITH his ARs are in the positions they NEED to be, even if or when he loses sight but knows and anticipates where they could be given how play unfolds. This situational awareness is how we anticipate what might occur as well as prepare for further input of things out of our vision.
I can only say this, IF the CR and ARs TRUST one another to do the job as they are responsible and accountable for, most hand signals are unnecessary. If it is SO IMPORTANT in non radio matches communicate by talking quietly at a stoppage. PLAY The whistle forget the flag! Flag is the AR telling the referee in his opinion this needs your attention. Let the CR decide, it is his match, his decision, his reputation. I do not know the temperament of your matches but I can tell you in most of mine, at any age level, if the AR flags and I am not immediately locked on to stop play or wave off I ALWAYS hear something. lol


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stewart
The key here is the pre match discussion. The referee should be aware that the flag is being kept down until the last moment when the player in an offside position interferes with play or an opponent. That could mean two glances across towards the AR with the second one being the all important one when the player touches the ball. The CR has to know that chasing a long ball is not in itself offside until the PIOP interferes.
I also think that in the heat of a game that the CR will not have the wherewithal to see or interpret hand signals from an AR particularly if he away on the opposite diagonal. Hand signal generally only work at static plays or very obvious situations.
My approach when without the communication equipment at lower levels is a loud shout if I see that the CR has missed the flag.

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