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Question Number: 31701

Law 11 - Offside 8/13/2017

RE: Rec Adult

Steve McDonald of Edinburgh, Scotland asks...

Can a player be given offside if the ball is played laterally or square then knocked forward by an opponent?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
There are two ways of being onside. One is to be level or behind the ball and the other is to have two opponents between the player and the goal line
When the ball is played sideways one could assume that the receiver is level or behind the ball yet that is not necessarily the case always. For instance the ball could be played sideways or backwards and a player could be in an offside position at the moment the ball was played and run back from that offside position to play the ball which is offside.
So the answer depends on the position of the receiver when the ball is played / touched by a team mate. The direction of the ball is irrelevant to that decision. What the forward does with the ball after receiving it is also irrelevant to the offside decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

You say the ball was 'knocked forward by an opponent'. The key to the situation is what that 'knock' was. If it was a deliberate play by the opponent, then offside no longer applies. It doesn't matter where the player was before, the opponent has interrupted any offside considerations.

But if by 'knock' you mean the ball rebounds off the opponent, then offside still remains a possibility. It depends on where the player was when the ball was last touched by his teammate. If he was in an offside position at the last touch, then offside will be called if the player becomes involved in play. It doesn't matter what direction the ball went from the teammate; it's the position that matters.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve.,
This KNOCK forward by the opposition is confusing because it hints of a deflection or rebound or possibly deliberate save NONE of which change offside status for the attackers more than a DELIBERATE PLAY which could reset the attackers, offside status IF there was one!

Still was there a PIOP who was challenging that defender who was knocking this ball forward?

Was it a clear deliberate play of the ball by the defender which would reset any offside restriction?

If this knock was a deflection or deliberate save then ANY PIOP attacker at the time that teammate passed the ball ahead of the knock is STILL restricted from involvement!

The change in the ball's direction is meaningless.

Offside is a two part equation. To initialize the 2nd part Involvement, we must be SURE of the 1st part Position was in place at that critical moment the ball leaves the foot or body of the team mate last touching the ball over! The direction of the ball be it directed laterally across or diagonally back against the flow or diagonally forward to run onto is immaterial to why offside exists.

When the ball is LAST touched we FREEZE FRAME the position of all the players on the FOP.

We look at location of the 2nd last opponent or the ball location itself to place that imaginary line you see often see on TV that runs across the field.

If the teammates of the player passing the ball are NOT closer than that line then they are further away from the goal line than either the ball or 2nd last opponent and are onside free to pursue the ball in ANY direction.

However, if ANY playable body part of the teammates are CLOSER to the opposing goal line than that imaginary line thus closer than either the ball or 2nd last opponent those players become PIOP ( players in an offside position) and are RESTRICTED from further involvement until

(a) a new touch of the ball by a teammate where their position on the field may have changed to be n longer offside positioned or
(b) the opposition deliberately plays the ball that is NOT a deliberate save which negates their restriction or
(c) A third option to reset occurs only if the ball goes out of play

Once PIOP they can do NOTHING by themselves to regain active status & that includes returning to what might well look onside by altering their position on the field which is why it is now possible for an INDFK to be awarded to the opposition inside the PIOPs half of the field should they be the one to play that ball while restricted! Running back to play a ball into what looks like an onside position they are STILL restricted by their FORMER positional placement earlier.

Remember we FREEZE the position like a snap shot in time to say YES or NO to position as being closer to the opposing goal line than the ball or the 2nd last opponent and only if YES we have a PIOP do we bother about their involvement as illegal, if NO then they are free to pursue the ball in any direction.

In cases of rebounds deflections and deliberate saves by or off defenders WHATEVER status existed for the attackers BEFORE this occurred REMAINS. An onside attacker is STILL onside and can run ito what looks offside to play th ball and score whereas a PIOP attacker is STILL restricted and cannot do anything including challenging or interfering with an opponent or the ball in ANY capacity, in any direction.


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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
Yes a player in this scenario could be given offside.

I'm not 100% sure but I suspect this might be a reference to the goal in the Watford vs Liverpool game that is also the subject of question # 31702.

As stated in the responses there, the direction of the ball is irrelevant. The other aspect you mention, of the ball then being knocked forward by an opponent, depends on whether this was an accidental deflection or deliberate save rather than a deliberate play by the opponent.

A player cannot be penalised for an offside offence when receiving the ball from a deliberate play by an opponent. If the player receives the ball from a deliberate save or an accidental deflection/rebound however, then offside is a possibility.

If the question does refer to the incident in the game I mentioned, then I would say the touch by the goalkeeper would be considered a deliberate save and so would not affect the offside decision.

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