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Question Number: 31312

Law 11 - Offside 3/5/2017

RE: Professional

Larry of Danville, CA USA asks...

On the goal in the USA v. England She Believes Cup game that England won 0-1, do you think England was offside? The attach clip shows the goal at 28 seconds in. England takes a shot from 20 yards out, while their #9 is in an offside position. The ball strikes the cross bar and USA's #6 and #8 converge to the ball. England's offside #9 never touches the ball, but obstructs the path of USA's #8 who bumps into her. USA's #8 then attempts to kick the ball but misses, just as USA's #6 gives a weak touch to the ball (partially due to the presence of USA's #8 also trying to play the ball). England's #11 then comes from an onside position and gives the ball a touch in for the goal. I am inclined to believe the intentional poor play by USA #6 would reset offside, however the contact between USA's #8 and the offside England's #9 occurred prior to the deliberate play by USA's #6. Is that contact and its effect on the play enough to call offside? If you were the AR (without a head set) what should your mechanics be?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
It is for situations like this that the VAR is bring proposed. I believe in real time on the FOP it is a very difficult call for the AR to make.
On review there is a chance that the actions of White #9 can be interpreted as interfering with an opponent Red #8. It is though a matter of interpretation as it is not an offence for a PIOP to move towards the ball. Could Red #8s actions be seen as careless on White which caused the incident. Red is still a good distance from the ball so she is not being challenged nor as yet her ability to play the ball. We also have to consider that it was Red #6 that got to the ball first to play it and she was not interfered with by a PIOP.
So on balance I would say no offside and certainly not one that is going to be picked up by an AR. The AR may see the offside position yet with so much going on in a mellee of players it is extremely difficult to call White #9 as interfering with an opponent.
In a match situation I would suggest that the AR in such a situation and unsure if the offside should be called must stand erect in position and does not signal the goal by moving up the touchline. That should alert the CR that all is not well with an award of the goal. The CR then must come across to discuss the issue and to hear from the AR as to what she has seen. If the explanation results in offside then the offside flag is raised and the IDFK is awarded. If the goal is good the referee signals goal to the centre circle.
I have seen ARs flag for doubtful offside which is then heavily protested which then may result in a discussion with the CR then having to overrule the AR. That looks very poor and much more likely to cause problems for the referee crew. The line of sight offside is the most likely one that is doubtful to the AR in such circumstances and it should be handled as described.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Larry,
It is a difficult decision for the AR but based on my understanding of the LOTG I saw an OPP interfere with an opponent and as such my flag would be raised! IF I was as convinced on the field in real time as I am om reviewing the replay. I cannot say for sure what the AR saw as we are often told when in doubt do NOT wave it about.

That said if the AR THINKs the goal is suspect upon eye contact stand at attention rather then take the kick off position to indicate you have a version of the truth you would like the CR to be aware of.

It is true the CR COULD overturn the flag but the AR can not be concerned with what MIGHT occur if he is convinced there was an offside.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
While, as my colleagues have said, this is a difficult decision, I am with ref McHugh on this one. Law 11 says that it is an offence to interfere with an opponent by:

''preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or
challenging an opponent for the ball or
clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or
making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball''

For me, White #9 does none of these things. She doesn't obstruct anyone's line of vision, challenge an opponent for the ball or clearly attempt to play a ball close to her. There could be a debate on the the last clause but I still don't believe that anything she does, clearly impacts on the ability of any defender to play the ball. In fact, both defenders rush past her with ease and their ability to play the ball is only affected by the fact that they collide with each other.

So in my opinion (and obviously, in the opinion of the match officials) there was no offside offence.

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

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