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Question Number: 30982

Law 11 - Offside 10/31/2016

RE: Rec Adult

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

This question is a follow up to question 30980

Thank you to all the refs who took the time to respond so quickly and consistently! I would like to ask further clarification on some of the interpretation.

Rule 11 in the IFAB Laws of the Game 2016/17 states
'A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate...'

This is exactly what happened in my original scenario. Whilst F1 was adjudged to be onside in relation to the final pass from which he subsequently scored, why can he not also be penalised for being offside in relation to an earlier incident as described above?

The answers from the refs all assume that the offside rule is a snapshot approach, where each touch is adjudged individually and all prior snapshots ignored even though there is provision in rule 11 for retrospective assessment. Where in the rules is this approach set out?

If there is no obligation to make this retrospective assessment, why is there provision to do so in rule 11? Given that rule 11 was introduced to discourage goal hanging behaviour, it seems odd that the rule can actually encourage it. I would say it was equitable in this instance to penalise F1 (having gained unfair advantage from maintaining his offside position) and I can see nothing in the rules to stop a referee from doing so. Can anyone highlight where the rules clarify this approach?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Tim,
I included the description in the evaluation below regarding how an OPP is GUILTY of gaining an advantage. I gather you want to punish their restricted status longer than it takes for them to regain legal player status but that my friend is not how it works. You are misinterpreting the actual content, seeing in it what you think, not what it means. However, I do agree the LOTG do a very poor job of educating those who read it how an OPP becomes onside once classified as an OPP. (offside positioned player) You have not accepted how or why an OPP RETURNS to the land of legal involvement?

OFFSIDE is a two part equation!
However it is not a match long sentence, it is a brief period of time until the NEXT offside determination is required.
While being GUILTY of being in an OFFSIDE position IS NOT an offence. You still need to be aware when the player is OFFSIDE positioned he is NOT able to participate in play. He is in fact useless to his or her team. However, if the OPP is NOT playing the ball or NOT interfering with an opponent he is not guilty of offside INVOLVEMENT! Thus no OFFENCE has YET been committed!

As an opposing player I can go stand in YOUR PA (penalty area) all game but for what purpose if in an offside position I can not help my team? I could wait for a defender to miskick the ball to me as a stroke of luck or for a teammate to get free on a breakaway and once he carries the ball past me then join in active play eventually but seriously how useful is a player doing that?

I ask you HOW LONG once a player is determined to be in an offside position THUS ineligible to participate in play must he remain ineligible? Understand that ONCE a player is classified as an OPP NOTHING he does on his own will reset this restriction .


There are only 3 stages of play that could allow an offside restricted player (ORP) to rejoin active play.
One - a NEW teammate's touch of the ball
(1) Condition one requires the former offside restricted player to no longer be in an offside position when this new touch occurs. Offside reset occurs at ANY teammate touch of the ball deliberate or accidental creating a NEW phase of play with a new freeze frame snap shot of the new positioning of the players on the field

Two - opposing player deliberately plays the ball while not being challenged or interfered with by an offside player
(2) Condition two must simply occur, offside position is not part of the equation because condition one no longer applies. The former restricted offside player can legally contest ball possession if his opponents have deliberately touched/played the ball, this frees the previously restricted offside position attacker who is no longer, gaining an advantage, to rejoin active play no matter their position on the field

There are 3 exceptions pertaining to gaining an advantage
If the opponent/defender touch of the ball is deemed in the opinion of the officials to be a
(a) - rebound = a ball that bounces back after impacting a hard surface
(b) - deflection = a ball that alters it trajectory or being caused to change direction upon impact
(c) - deliberate save = a ball played with a conscious decision and realization of the consequences of action but is done preventing a goal
These conditions WILL NOT RESET nor change an attacking opponents' restricted offside status! Neither does it alter or change an attacking opponent's ONSIDE status.
A miss kick or poor header is more often a MISTAKE made when choosing to deliberately play the ball!

We do not award offside for a mistake, if it was a DELIBERATE PLAY!

However, the position or movement of the defender's feet or head apparently trying to react does not necessarily mean the ball was deliberately played!

What determines if a mistake is a deliberate play or was it a deflection or a rebound? We hold that when the ball comes to the player, no player will ever get out of the way and let the ball go by, there will always be a motion by the player as that is an instinctive movement. The question is whether it is an action or a reaction.

�DISTANCE: How far away is the ball?
�FLIGHT PATH: The ball's direction/angle is it altered towards player?
�SPEED: How fast is that ball moving?
�SPACE: is there room to react?
�TIME: Is there time to prepare?
�IMPACT: Does the ball strike the player, without the player being aware or time to react?

An impact is NOT deliberately playing the ball, nor a mistake, it is either

�{a} rebound which is a ball that bounces back after striking a hard surface or

�{b} deflection which is a ball that alters it trajectory or being caused to change direction upon impact

Three - the ball goes out of play
(3) Condition three requires a restart of play!
Three restarts are free from any offside criteria by either team (Throw-in, Corner kick, Goal kick) where position is NOT a factor at the moment of the kick
A NEW positional offside evaluation will occur ONLY from the team taking the kick be it INDFK or DFK as there is a new touch of ball by the attacking team/or team mates. The opponents are exempt because condition two now applies!

Your statement 'This is exactly what happened in my original scenario!' fails to take into account offside is not a continuous event over the entire match but a brief phase of play until the next offside determination arises. The fact an player who was previously restricted regains active stature on a new touch of the ball by a team mate is a failure of the opposition to defend more so than any skill shown by the former OPP. Particularly if that teammate is on a breakaway and they were effectively playing a man off their side given the OPP was NOT allowed to be involved up until that point!! lol

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Using a 'snapshot' approach is the only conceivable way to do it. Else once a player is in an offside position, he could never become involved in play for the rest of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tim
The player was not in an offside position when the ball was played /touched by a team mate when he participated in active play. The player was previously in an offside position yet that is not an offence until he does something more at that time which is set out in Law 11 . None of those conditions as set out were met so no offside on the 1st phase of play.
In the modern game the principle behind offside has become somewhat redundant. Goal hanging or to give its original title *sneaking* also referred to as mooching is rarely seen in ten game with the exception of set pieces. In fact it is the complete opposite now with teams getting every player behind the ball and in many instances doubling up on defending. Perhaps if teams did not get so many player in defensive position that the game might open up and become more entertaining.
Also the law makers have been endeavouring to limit the reasons for calling offside so over the years there has been a significant eroding of offside conditions so as to try to encourage more goals, attacking play etc. IMHO the slide rule assessment of offside is hampering the game as that was never the original intention either on offside.
So going back to your example Law 11 requires that the player in an offside position must either interfere with play by touching the ball or interfere with an opponent by challenging for the ball, affecting line of sight to the ball or impacted on an opponent at that time. None of that happened. When we couple that with it is not an offence to be in an offside position then it is plainly obvious that the player participation in a 2nd and subsequent phase of play must be allowed as specified in Law 11.
Case in point is the regular situation of players stand in an offside position at a free kick. Once in that position the player may not participate in play directly from the free kick yet it does not prevent the same player become active again from an onside position on the next or subsequent phase of play. Whether we agree with that or not that is what the current Law 11 and it's interpretation states.


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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hello Tim,

You are certainly welcome to ask us what you wish. We appreciate the interest and do want to enhance your understanding. As to the topic of Offside. We can explain it to you but we can not understand it for you!

When judgment of offside position is necessary, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his OWN team, we suggest you see/imagine it as ...FREEZE... frame picture of ...ALL... the participants, calculated at a single moment of time, when a ball is ...LAST... touched by a team mate and apply these 3 QUESTIONS

1. Is the player in the attacking half of the field?

2. Is the player nearer the opposing goal line than the ball

3. Is the player nearer the opposing goal line than the last but one opponent or the last two opponents?

This concept while easy to understand is often so simplistic in nature that its nuance and complexity are lost or important details are overlooked because of the rapid movement of the participants and the line of sight on all concerns.

The AR or referee must be able to comprehend the angle of view to determine who and when and even how the ball is last touched, correlating the evolving circumstances of movement, separated by distance, entangled by speed, complicated by the continual locomotion of the players, both defending and attacking, at speeds of 20 plus miles an hour, running in opposing or intersecting directions, chasing a rolling, bouncing ball, moving as fast as 130 mph WITHOUT losing focus.

The ability for the human mind to see, record and interpret the fast paced data creates time lags in real time to the illusion of position at a given moment! This is why the phrase 'WHEN IN DOUBT DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT! ' (We are talking about the flag!) was created to help the official realize on a close play a decision derived at in a blink of an eye. The mind is tricked into thinking things are moving slower than they were, incorrectly interpreting the player as being in an offside positioned and raising a flag, unnecessarily taking away good goals or halting the scoring opportunities.

Only with the development of ingrained good habits, excellent communication and sound mechanics will the team of officials, no matter what system is in use, be able to make quality decisions! The LOTG are what they are good and bad. What we think or what we feel as fair is a personal opinion which is fine but it does not change the facts, offside is a constantly evolving temporary phase of play.

From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of fair play

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Tim,

I understand the point you are making but please refer to ref Voshol's post as to why the approach you advocate could not work. Going back to where the player was at the moment of some earlier touch by a team mate just wouldn't be workable.

You ask where in the laws this is made clear. Although it's is not absolately identical, the basic principle is the same as the second scenario on page 199 of the Laws of the Game 2016-17 version, pdf edition.

Also, in case it helps to see it instead of just reading an explanation, the same scenario can be found in a FIFA-issued video (starting at 5' 15'') in the clip referenced below.

Hopefully this will help - for me at least, I find that seeing something in video format often makes it clearer.

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