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Question Number: 31506

Law 11 - Offside 5/2/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Steve Kessell of Auckland, New Zealand asks...

If a player in an offside position sprints after a through-ball but does not interfere with any defender (who are of course also sprinting back), but then the attacker jumps the ball, is this an offence?
He may block defenders sight of the ball, but nothing that affects any defenders actions.
My first guess is 'no offence'.

What if there is a foot race and the defender passes the attacker and gets to the ball just before the offside attacker, whom then tackles the defender and gets the ball. Offence? Presumably not as the ball came from the opposition? Seems unfair, but I think that is the rules.

Your thoughts please??

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Law 11 tells us that it is not an offence to be in an offside position and the advice tells us that it is also not an offence to move after the ball from an offside position. The offence happens when the player in an offside position interferes with play by touching the ball or interferes with an opponent by challenging for the ball, interfering with line of sight, preventing the ball being played etc.
So in your example the player will be penalised for offside the moment he challenges the defender as he goes to play the ball. An AR may decide to flag for the offside offence early when it is clear that the PIOP is going to interfere so as to prevent a collision or a foul.
If the PIOP ignores the ball say by moving out of the way of the ball and he does not interfere with an opponent then there is no offence
On your second scenario timing is critical. If the defender has unfettered control of the ball and then plays the ball to the PIOP there is no offence. However should the PIOP arrive at the ball at the same moment as the defender also gets to the ball then that is offside for interfering with an opponent.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
the offside restriction is a broad spectrum look at the actual conditions where the PIOP affects play by either touching the ball or interfering with an opponent.

It is permissible to NOT see an offence even though the PIOP is in truth actually TRYING to participate or looking that he might want to participate. We are told to WAIT until we are SURE he HAS participated in such a way as to be UNFAIR to the opposition by ACTUAL involvement in touching the ball or interfering with an opponent's ability to get to the ball!
Which is why we wait and see.

When the PIOP jumps the ball we are likely looking for is there an opponent who is being unfairly affected as a result of the PIOP DIRECT action ? Is the defender truly being blocked to get to the ball or has to move out of the way for fear of contact? As long as the ball is not touched the PIOP may NOT yet be involved unless that jump over the ball was at an opponent who had to get out of the way or was actively trying to challenge and was contacted by the PIOP.

It is important to keep in mind we punish the ACTIONS of the PIOP attacker, a decision is not based on the reaction of defenders albeit their reactions could indicate they were being challenged or affected in their own minds. A referee can ONLY judge what the PIOP attacker does NOT the decision of the defenders.
I have seen PIOPs try to poke a ball into goal and fail that still resulted in a good goal because they
(a) did not touch it (although they did try)
(b) no opponent was affected by the attempt!

I have seen defenders chasing a PIOP who was also in pursuit of the ball with a non offside teammate also in pursuit. The defender chooses to follow the PIOP rather than the non offside teammate who recovers the ball as the PIOP alters his run and streaks across the goal to receive a pass for which the teammate has now carried the ball closer to the opposing goal line and thus resets the positional restriction enabling the former PIOP to be onside and scores a good goal despite moments before being completely restricted from active play.

The definition of NEAR and challenge is the basis of proximity and intent when the PIOP is in pursuit of the ball we do NOT want a collision or coming together. We have less room to consider if both the PIOP and defender are running in the same direction after the ball then if they were running at one another in opposing directions. An earlier whistle could occur in the 2nd instance as chance of a collision of force is that much greater. Where in the first instance they would have to be within shielding distance of the ball to see the proximity as a true challenge baring the blocking of a line of sight to the keeper might allow for greater distance away.

Your second question it appears based on the description the PIOP is challenging, he is TOO near and thus involved thus INDFK out! If the PIOP had sufficient time to get a touch in without the involvement of the PIOP as a factor then the restriction is lifted. It should be noted that pressure is NOT the same as a challenge in the proximity of a PIOP from distance is not looked at as being NEAR enough to affect play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
In your first example, if all is as you describe it - if all the PIOP does is jump over the ball and no opponent is in any way affected by this, then I would agree with you that there is no offence.

In the second scenario however, there is almost definitely an offside offence. Law 11 says it is an offence for a PIOP to interfere with an opponent ''by challenging an opponent for the ball.''

It is true that the law also says that a ''player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball'' is not guilty of an offside offence but I think there is a clear and legally significant distinction to be made between receiving the ball from an opponent (who has had time and space to control the ball) and taking the ball off an opponent by tackling them before they've even had any time to react.

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