Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 31615

Law 11 - Offside 6/21/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Peter Cox of London, Ontario Canada asks...

Two attacking players have beat the last defender and are approaching the goalkeeper. Player A wants to pass to Player B. Can Player A provide a FORWARD pass for Player B to receive, provided Player B is level with, or behind, the ball at the time of the pass (but then runs ahead of Player A to receive the pass)? i.e. Is Player B onside in this case?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Peter,
Direction of the ball has nothing to do with offside. For instance, if the receiving player is in an offside position when the ball is last touched by a teammate, then even if the ball is actually passed backwards into space and that player runs back to receive it, an offence has still been committed.

All that is important is the position of the receiving player at the moment the ball is last touched by a teammate. And as long as that player is not in front of the ball in your scenario, then they are not in an offside position.

To be clear - offside position is considered against any part of the body except the arms. Strictly speaking, having a shoulder or knee in front of the ball when it's touched puts them in an offside position.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
Yes, player A can make a forward pass and yes, player B is onside in the situation you describe. The direction of the pass has absolutely no bearing on the question of offside.

As to player B running ahead of player A after the ball is played, that is also immaterial. As IFAB Decision 1 to Law 11 (which used to be included in the Laws from 1956 till 1997) said (in part):

''A player who is not in an off-side position when one of his colleagues passes the ball to him or takes a free-kick, does not [...] become off-side if he goes forward during the flight of the ball.''

This was one of many parts of the law that were removed in a major re-write in 1997 because it (along with many other provisions) was felt to be self-evident.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Onside is the answer. The direction that the ball is kicked is not a factor in offside. The ball could be kicked backwards with a player in an offside position coming back from an offside position to play the ball which would be offside.
So yes the ball can be played forward for Player B and there will be no offside provided Player B was in an onside position at the moment of the pass by his team mate.
To be in an onside position the player can be behind the ball or have at least two opponents between himself and the goal line. With only one opponent between the players and the goal the only possible onside position here is to stay behind the ball.
So if Player B is behind the ball there is no restriction on him playing the ball from Player A in any position including running on to the forward pass. If he is ahead of the ball he is in an offside position in this case.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Peter,
yes is the simple answer.
You now are aware the direction of the pass is not relevant but in these cases when this occurs in match play often the AR looking across incorrectly see offside because of the lean of the receiving player appears to be slightly ahead of the teammate passing the ball when in actuality the extended leg and foot of the passer with the ball coming off the end is a bit ahead or even with the leaning teammate. BALL location not passing player location at last moment of touch decides if the receiver has crept ahead closer to that goal line . It is in the acceleration to GET to the ball by the receiver and the deceleration of the passer that confuses the offside placement at that exact moment!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31615
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.