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Question Number: 31740

Law 11 - Offside 8/27/2017

RE: High School

Richard Duncan of Frostburg, MD usa asks...

I had a colleague explain his version of an offside call. Tell me what you think. A player (1) is in an offside position as player (2) passes the ball to an onside team mate (3) who dribbles the ball beyond player (1) without being challenged or losing possession. Player (3) then crosses the ball to player (1). My colleague says that because player (1) was offside on the original pass, he remains offside until the ball changes possession or is passed to another onside player while he is now in an onside position. Basically, you cannot be onside simply by letting the ball catch up to you or running back behind the ball position. Thanks.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Richard,
Your colleague is incorrect. In the situation you describe, it only matters where player 1 was when the ball was last touched by a team mate, not where he was at some earlier point in time.

This situation is even covered specifically in the Laws of the Game. In a section entitled 'Practical Guidelines for Match Officials' we find the following:

''An attacker (C) is in an offside position, not interfering with an opponent, when a team-mate (A) passes the ball to player (B1) in an onside position who runs towards the opponents' goal and passes the ball (B2) to team-mate (C).

Attacker (C) was in an onside position when the ball was passed, so cannot be penalised.''

This is exactly the scenario you describe, with the IFAB's attacker (C) being your player (1). Just to be clear, the IFAB is saying that (C) was in on onside position when the ball was passed by attacker (B) and it doesn't matter where (C) was when (A) passed the ball to (B).

It may help to make this a little clearer if you can look at the illustration that accompanies the wording. You can find it on page 201 of the full edition of the 2017-18 Laws document which is available for download from the IFAB website.

While it is true that you cannot become onside simply by waiting for the ball to catch up to you or running back if nothing else occurs to cause a re-assessment of the offside scenario, in this situation the player, having been in an offside position at the time of an earlier touch by a team mate, did not become involved in active play at that time and when the subsequent touch by a team mate was made, he was then in an onside position.

Some people use the term 'phase of play' to help explain this and in this terminology, player 1 was in an offside position in phase 1 of the situation you describe but did not become involved in active play during that phase. He did become involved in active play during phase 2 but in that phase of play, he was not in an offside position.

Sorry, I just noticed that this was a High School question so the IFAB Laws are not directly applicable but the principles used in this instance are the same, so it is still not an offside offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Richard
You need to go back to your colleague and explain that he in incorrect. My colleagues Referee Grove et al have given detailed explanations of why it is not offside and incorrect.
Now NFHS has followed the recent changes in the FIFA offside law and this situation is already dealt with in the previous NFHS Rule 11 Section 1 Art 3 where it states that *It is not an offense initself to be in an offside position*. So in your example Player 1 has not committed any offence and must not be punished as he was not involved in *active play*. When the ball is eventually played to Player 1 he is in an ONSIDE and he is allowed to participate in active play so the goal must stand.
Now your colleague like a few in the game FEEL that Player 1 has gained a benefit by his original positioning and should be penalised yet the Rules and Laws state otherwise. In fact it is now a tactic used by some teams at free kicks to position attackers in an offside position, avoiding close marking, the PIOPs do not participate in original play and wait until they are put onside by another phase of play, which is perfectly legal.
There are three way for an offside positioned player to be put onside
1 The ball goes out of play
2. The opponents gain control of the ball
3. An onside player begins a new phase of play and puts the PIOP in an onside position by moving the ball beyond the PIOP or the defenders move to adjust to the new phase of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

It is good to hear from Frostburg, Maryland, . I lived and refereed there in the late 90's. As indicated by referee's Dawson , Grove and McHugh, your colleague is incorrect. B1 is in an offside position but is not offside. When the ball went beyond B1, B1 was no longer in a offside position, so that when the ball was played to B1, there was no offside violation.

please note that the NFHS Offside rules have been changed to meet FIFA rules. These changes can be found in NFHS Rule 11-1-4 on page 41 of the 2017-18 NFHS Rules Book and 11-1-2 Situation D, 11-1-4 Situation A, and 11-1-4 Situation E of the 2017-18 NFHS Rules Book.

I hope that you have a successful season and don't encounter any bears on the soccer field like I did just prior to a high school game at Flintstone.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Richard ,
there is little to add to my colleagues informed advice but if you read the offside explanation on the site it might help clarify the idiosyncrasies of offside. I often say we can explain it to you but we can not understand it for you!

Offside POSITION is re-examined at EVERY touch of the ball by a team mate . A PIOP who WAS restricted is RELEASED from the restriction the moment a team mate has dribbled the ball CLOSER to the opposing goal line and then touches/plays that ball. His FORMER position/status is NO LONGER considered!

When player 3 last touches ball WHERE is player 1?

Your colleague was SORT of correct if he stated you can not put your self onside ONCE restricted as a PIOP. Letting the ball pass you or going back to your own half or letting the 2nd last defender resume a closer position to the goal line does NOT lift the involvement restriction.

Not until the TEAM mate retouches the ball once the ball is closer to the goal line would the PIOP be permitted to rejoin play provided at THAT moment he was further away from the goal line than the ball .

Keep in mind it is the BALL Location not the teammate location passing the ball.

Often a receiving player will be leaning slightly ahead of his counterpart who passes the ball over with his leading foot. So the receiving player is still onside because he was further away or even with the ball albeit he might look slightly ahead of the passer.

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