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Question Number: 32075

Law 11 - Offside 12/4/2017

RE: Adult

Mark Adams of Mauchline, Ayrshire Scotland asks...

If an attacking player leaves the field of play by crossing the goal line for whatever reason and then rejoins the game by crossing back over the goal line is he offside if he immediately moves towards the ball?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
Moving off the field of play is allowed as part of a playing motion. So a player that crosses over the goal line is placed on the goal line to determine his position for offside purposes at the exact moment the ball is played by a team mate. . So at that moment the ball is played by a team mate the player does not have two opponents on the goal line he is in an offside position and he will be called offside once he interferes with play.
If however the player returns to the field of play and by the time the ball is played he is in an onside position there is no possible offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
If a player leaves the field over the end line and then returns to the field, the Law says:

''the player shall be considered to be positioned on the goal line for the purposes of offside.''

However the other parts of the offside law still apply - simply being in an offside position is not an offence and any potential offside offence is only judged when the ball is touched or played by a team mate. Just because a player leaves the field and returns as you describe, it does not automatically mean they should be given offside if the other requirements of the offside law are not met.

For instance, if the ball was not played by a team mate while he was off the field, offside would not become a consideration at that point.

Also, even if a team mate did play the ball, rendering an offside offence a possibility, simply moving towards the ball is not enough to complete an offside offence, the player must actually touch the ball or interfere with an opponent before they are considered to be involved in active play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mark,
while in general a player is expected to play the game within the general confines of the boundary lines & requires permission from the referee to exit or enter the FOP be it for subs, fixing equipment, bathroom break or injury

Soccer is NOT a static game, thereare certain stoppages where the player MUST in fact exit to restart as in corners, goal kicks, and throw ins.

During actual play his own momentum can create situations where he briefly exits he FOP, perhaps fighting to regain his balance or avoid charging into another player? The fact he can be fouled while off the FOP dictates how much the LOTG consider these as part of normal playing attributes. Thusly his proximity to the goal line of the opposition COULD be reason to consider offside positioning depending on circumstances.

Did a team mate last touch the ball while he WAS in an offside position in or outside the FOP? If it rendered him restricted and he returned WITHOUT anything occurring to reset this restriction he COULD still be guilty of offside upon interfering with play or opponent.

The key point is he can not DELIBERATELY exit to gain an unfair opportunity
But he is not held with feet to the fire for being or looking like he MIGHT be offside!

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Offside Question?

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

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