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Question Number: 31436

Law 11 - Offside 4/7/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Steve Quinn of Perth, Western Australia Australia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31430

I take issue with your answer to Mr Luvka concerning an attacking player who steps off the field to show he is not involved in active play (i.e. so as not to called offside) and later returns to play.

You both said that once another attacking player plays the ball, a new phase of play begins and offside positions are re-evaluated. In general this is true, but according to the updated Law 11, a player who returns to the pitch from the goal line is considered to be ON the goal line for offside purposes, until a break in play, or the defence play the ball outside the penalty area toward the half way line.

So surely this player, where ever he actually moves, remains technically on the goal line, even if half a dozen team mates play the ball around (even if this action takes the ball outside the penalty area). Until play stops, or the defence clears it, he is still coming from an offside position.

The general re-assessing of offside potions still happens, its just that each time, he is assessed as on the goal line.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Thanks for your observation and your point us well made. Our answers were given on the basis of a follow up to question 31421 in which the differences were pointed out.
Most times when this happens it is because the players momentum has taken him off the field of play. It is not an intentional action so we have to allow the player to participate in subsequent play like any other player. For instance if a player ran around a defender on the goal line on a wall pass and he was onside again to receive the return we would not place him on the goal line for offside purposes just because he moved off the field of play in his run.
That should not be confused with the deliberate action of a player who steps off the field of play deliberately so as to show that he is not involved in active play and stays off. The amended law is to deal with an attacking player who leaves to stays off the field of play and then returns unexpectedly or belatedly to gain an advantage . Obviously the amendment is to ensure that there is no unfair benefit gained from that action such as the defending team not factoring in the player into its defensive play.
I do not think I can recall one situation of an attacker staying off the FOP for any length of time and for a belated re entry to be dealt with by a referee as USB or offside? It would be expected that once a player returns and he gets onside again that his new position would be the normal deciding factor.
Just think about a group of players and one player comes back into an onside position having stepped off momentarily with the ball cleared away. How could an AR be expected keep track of that player should the attacking team pass the ball around and then crosses the ball into the penalty area with every single player in a clear onside position. Even figuring out who played the ball in the onside position would be a challenge.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
I did add the what if in the initial answer (and has done nothing to that point to force a referee stoppage) You are not incorrect but as my colleague points out exiting the FOP to avoid something and sliding off accidentally does not determine ineligibility when placed in context. The idea is not to punish the player for playing the game only if he plays it unfairly.

If say a running attacker exits the goal line through momentum then pick pockets a keeper while being BACK on the FOP rather than remaining OUTSIDE the FOP. Technically one is ok the other is USB as we can no longer get him on offside.
If the OPP challenged for that ball without it being in control or as of yet touched or if it was a save and left on the ground by the keeper then the returning player is offside per your quote

Also same as defender stepping out say while chasing a loose ball and he exits the FOP in behind the goal he is judged on the goal line until he returns but he is not restricted to always be there UNLESS the referee is convinced it was an act of USB .

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

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