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Question Number: 31537

Law 13 - Free Kicks 5/15/2017

RE: High School High School

James Douglas of Princeton, WV USA asks...

On a free kick in the attacking side of the field the defense retreats 10 yards. Before the kick is taken the defense moves in 2 steps. The offensive players do not move and are still 10 yards from the ball when the ball is kicked but they are in front of all the defenders. Is the offense offside when the ball is played?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi James,
if they are offside it could only occur if the defenders stepped up but move off to the side to ensure ten yards away from the restart point otherwise the defenders have failed to respect the distance and that as an infraction would occur first. Thus retake the kick is an option.

Also it depends on how far away from the restart point the wall or players are withdrawn or set at . I have seen walls set well back that make a forward run, placing almost the entire opposing team in an offside position. . I was refereeing a match between the u-16 Mexican youth team visiting in Canada when they did exactly that. I had awarded a free kick to Canada just 15 yards shy of the midline o the Canadian side of the field. I watched the long kick sail into the Mexican zone being chased by about 8 Canadians with the full 10 Mexican players up at the midline with their arms in the air! I waited a bit to see if the ball was going to be recovered by the keeper but rather than risk any sort of collision I made the offside call .

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi James,
If the referee decides that the kick was properly taken despite the opponents being closer than the required distance, then theoretically, offside would apply. It would be better however, to have the kick retaken, if the illegal actions of the defenders is the only thing that had caused the offside offence to occur.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi James
In a FIFA game if the referee deems that the kick was properly taken then the ball is in play and offside will apply. Now as the defending team has encroached which has affected the attacking team then the remedy is a retake of the free kick.
The challenge for the referee can be to determine if the movement was forward or in fact trifling or that the movement happened at the kick.
As described in your question I would go with a retake once offside came into consideration.
Referee Manjone has given the NFHS answer to the question which has a differing sanction and restart.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


The defensive team's moving 2 yards closer before the kick resulted in encroachment. In high school play, encroachment is considered unsporting conduct. Since the players of the attacking team were now offside, the clock should have been stopped when the kick was taken and each team member who had encroached should have been cautioned and been required to leave the field. The attacking team would then have been awarded an indirect kick from the spot of the encroachment. (NFHS Rules 18-1-k and 12-8-f5). I hope that your season is going well.

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Offside Question?

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

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