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Question Number: 30980

Law 11 - Offside 10/30/2016

RE: Rec Adult

Tim M-W of London, UK asks...

This goal was allowed, but I am not sure it should have been: Forward1 is slowly retreating from opponent's goal, in a clearly offside position with only the keeper between himself and the goal, when a pass forward is made. Forward2 runs past all the defenders and onto the ball from an onside position. Forward1 runs back towards opponent's goal. Forward2 passes to Forward1 who taps in goal. No defenders were behind either forward.
Is this a goal if the ball is passed back from Forward2 to Forward1?
Is this a goal if there is a defender between Forward1 and the keeper?
My view is that Forward1 is interfering with play or gaining an advantage in all scenarios.
What do you think?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Tim,
Thanks for your question.
Offside position is considered at the moment the ball is last touched by a teammate of the attacker in question. So in this case, every time Forward 2 touches the ball, we reconsider whether Forward 1 is in an offside position.
If F1 is in an offside position when the ball is last touched by F2, and receives the ball, it's offside.

Something which is broadly misunderstood is that the direction of the ball is completely irrelevant.

Bear in mind that once past the 2nd last line of defence, to be in an offside position a player then needs to be in front of the ball (and that means any part of the body except the arms). So level is fine - although there is the risk of an incorrect decision by the ref when there are no AR's).

In terms of the actions beforehand, we're only concerned with F1 if his position in the leadup has prevented an opponent from being able to play the ball. The fact that by standing there he may be forgotten about by the opponents is not sufficient to penalise him for offsie.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Tim,
while it is difficult to assimilate that a player who is sea gulling and trolling your goal area only moments before can suddenly find themselves scoring a perfectly good goal against you and nothing can be done about it. Your assumptions are in fact erroneous that he MUST be offside. He could be at SOME point but we need to see the circumstances.


It is NOT an offence to be in an offside position. They MUST be INVOLVED in active play.

Offside position is updated at EVERY physical touch of the ball by a team mate .

ARs are now instructed to wait and see when an OPP (offside positioned player) and an onside teammate are both in contention to play the ball. When the ball is passed forward you maintain Forward #1 was definitely an OPP. OK he is RESTRICTED from participation at THAT time! Yet as you point out Forward #2 was onside and it was THIS player who was actually involved in receiving this pass. As long as FORWARD #1 did not touch the ball or prevent an opponent from getting to the ball by interfering NO OFFSIDE was possible.

The MOMEMT Forward #2 touches the ball and at each and every touch of the ball thereafter we reevaluate Forward #1 as an OPP based on the position of the BALL itself as there is no 2nd last opponent to be that imaginary blue line TV teleprompters like to put across the field to show the positioning of all at the moment the ball is last played by a team mate . lol

My colleague Ref Wright makes a good point about the ARs being positioned well to make an accurate call given the fact a player running forward to receive a ball often leans and looks slightly ahead of his team mate passing but in reality the passers outstretched leg and foot with the width of the ball the following player is NOT ahead of the ball at all. As discussed the ball width is the offside line where by as long as no PLAYABLE body parts are closer to the opposing goal line than the leading outer edge of the ball that player following is NOT offside.

SO now we need to freeze frame the picture at the moment the ball is played by FORWARD #2 to see if FORWARD #1 is still in as a OPP and is he at all interfering with the keeper by blocking his line of sight or access to the ball itself. If he is not , remember it is NOT an offence to simply be offside positioned.

The KEY points here now are the critical FREEZE frame moment when the ball is LAST Touched over by FORWARD #2 passing the ball to FORWARD #1

Is this a goal if the ball is passed back from Forward2 to Forward1?

The direction of the pass either tapped forward to run onto or tapped backwards away from goal makes no difference to the POSITION of FORWARD #1 at the EXACAT moment the ball leaves FORWARD#2 foot that FORWARD #1 is NOT closer to the opposing goal line then the ball.

It is the PERCEPTION of a ball pushed forward that gives an impression of offside whereas a backwards pass lessons that impression yet an OPP can run back to get a ball just as easily as run further forward.

As long as FORWARD #1 was NOT ahead of the ball the goal will stand because the circumstances have changed and he was NO LONGER in an offside position when a team mate last touched the ball

Is this a goal if there is a defender between Forward1 and the keeper?
Well if there are 2 opponents between the both Forwards closer to the opposing goal there is NO possibility of offside as Forward #1 is further away from the opposing goal line then the 2nd last opponent.

I suggest you have a look at Question 29240 and take a look at a very clear good goal which is the 3rd goal about 2. 50 in I think

Then have a peek at this video below It shows what was in my opinion an INCORRECT offside awarded that SHOULD have been a goal Note the ball location and forward head lean . When In doubt DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tim
Opening line of Law 11 says that it is not an offence to be in an offside position. So it reads to me that Forward 2 was as you say onside so there is no offence so far. Forward 2 when he controls the ball begins a new phase of play so what went on before with Forward 1 is now past and irrelevant to offside. The referee now has to reevaluate offside at the next play of the ball by Forward 2. If Forward 1 is behind the ball played by Forward #2 then # 1 is in an onside position and may participate in play.
I suspect that as the goal was allowed that #1 was in an onside position at that pass by # 2 so the goal us good.

Have a look at this video
Okay let us say that the player that runs through initially was without doubt onside and he is Attacker 2. There is Attacker 1 clearly in an offside position. There is no offside here by Attacker 1 as he does not interfere with play or an opponent. Attacker 1 then rejoins the action and as long as he is behind the ball on the pass by Attacker 2 there is no possible offside.
Some do not like this 2nd phase of play concept and refer to benefitting from the initial offside position. That may be the case yet it is not illegal so the goal is good in such circumstances.
An extreme example would be that an attacker could stand in the penalty area 40 yards offside and if a team mate brings the ball ahead of that offside positioned attacker the PIOP is now in an onside position and can participate in play from that onside position.

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

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