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Question Number: 32094

Law 17 - The Corner Kick 12/13/2017

RE: Competitive Under 19

Tom Schaller of River Forest, IL USA asks...

With the new offside rule (defender making a deliberate attempt to play ball, no matter of the outcome, attacking player standing in offside is now considered onside) I wanted to find out your take on a recent play I saw in an Arsenal game.

There the linesman in the end raised his flag on a high cross towards a player that was in an offside position. First though the linesman correctly waited to see if the defender caught up to that cross, which he did. Basically the defender and the offside attacker reached the ball somewhat at the same time, but the defender clearly got to the ball first and was able to clear that ball, although not cleanly, and the ball ended up at the feet of another attacker (who was not offside on the cross).

At that point the linesman raised his flag. Which a couple years back would have totally been fine; it was in line with the offside rule at that time.
But under the new rule, if the defender makes a deliberate attempt to play the ball (which he clearly did in this play), no matter of the quality of that touch and where it ends up, I feel under the new rule play should have continued, no?
Oh and I have to add that play was not in front of goal, so the defender did NOT save a goal scoring opportunity.

And as a personal note, I believe they messed up a perfect fine offside rule. It was always that if the defender did not have control of a ball, his touch did not count in the offside interpretation. I have no idea why they felt the rule needed a change.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Tom, they do like to promote attacking play. Offside has undergone considerable tweaking these past few years.
In your VERSION you claim an offside attacker CHALLANGED the defender for possession to which the defender managed a partial clearance which went to a different restricted PIOP or simply to another opponent who was not restricted? In truth it would not matter, IF indeed the AR or CR was content the touch was a deliberate play by the defender, he HAS reset any former restriction! BUT, lets re-examine your scenario, you claim the attacker who CHALLANGED For the ball WAS a PIOP? Correct? this challenge, how obviously close was it? You MAKE it appear that if affected the outcome of that clearance more than a poor deliberate effort by the defender? This was perhaps offside interference with an opponent and the flag must be correctly raised at THAT moment not when the ball travelled over to someone else. THAT is INVOLVEMENT. The PIOP CAN NOT BE INVOLVED in the actual outcome of play. If the PIOP was say 5 yards away then it is likely to not be considered as interfering as he is too faraway but if he is going up to head the ball then he is effectively interfering with what the defender was trying to do and that is offside.

What was being changed was the mistake of a poorly directed touch by a defender that redirected towards a PIOP opponent was granted as a gift because it was the action of the defender that created it! This was a change in stating that deflections and rebounds are unavoidable thus offside DOES apply where as a MISTAKE is fault based and thus offside does not apply.

at 1:01 watch the header go directly to the PIOP NO offside because it was deliberately played to him by a defender

Note at 1:20 to 1:30 the offside awarded to the Argentinians but the German striker although he was PIOP he NEVER actually touched the ball, that should have been play on as his run did not alter play and the other German attacker who did get to that ball was NOT offside.
Here is an example of offside interfering with the opponent as the #11 attacker decides to stand in an offside position directly in between the free kick and the keeper BLOCKING his line of sight
Note again the defender heads the ball but he does it on his own he is not forced to do so nor was he challenged.
I will tell you the 2nd example where the defender had it go between his legs THAT was later changed to an OFFSIDE because (a) is was a deliberate save & (2) it was a deflection by an instinctive reaction
Although this advice has old wording the example of interference is relevant as the keeper is moving to block the shot albeit missed the challenge is obvious, close and thus interfering with the opponent DESPITE no physical touch.

What TENDS to occur when defenders are tired or beaten they raise the arm looking for help . Hoping for the offside they tend to freeze , stop playing, THIS is DEAD WRONG! You should ALWAYS play to the whistle. A flag is a communication device by the AR for the CR to convey an OPINION not a FACT of play!


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tom
I watched this game and in my opinion the AR decided that the player in an offside position challenged the defender for the ball. It makes no difference if the defender deliberately plays the ball when he is being challenged by the opponent in an offside position. It is still offside.
To quote the relevant sections of Law 11 Bullet point 2 refers
** interfering with an opponent by: # preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or  # challenging an opponent for the ball or # clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or # making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball**
** A player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent's progress (e.g. blocks the opponent) the offence should be penalised under Law 12.**
Also I think you may have somewhat misinterpreted this. The deliberate play by the defender resets the offside but it does not give a PIOP a free pass at interfering with an opponent at the moment of that deliberate play. The amendment was to bring better clarity to situation of the ball being deliberately played by defenders to players in an offside position not to allow PIOP to go unpunished when challenging an opponent who is playing the ball.
By the way the interpretation of a challenge is left to the match official. If I recall correctly the ball was booted away hastily and up in the air by the defender caused somewhat by the PIOPs proximity which can be interpreted as a challenge. Perhaps another AR might opine that there was no challenge and play continues.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Tom,
I would say that you are perhaps slightly mis-characterising a couple of things related to the offside law and so your question becomes a somewhat leading one. The intent of the offside law as it pertains to a player receiving the ball from an opponent has not changed recently. In fact, it was inherent in the offside law since the very first version of it in 1863 that a player can only be guilty of an offside offence when the ball is played by a team mate. The law in 1863 stated as follows:

''When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so ...''

'Out of play' was the old term used for what we now call 'offside.'

Now, there was a period (relatively short, as far as I am aware) when there was a concept of being 'played on' by an opponent under which any touch by an opponent, whether deliberate or not, precluded the possibility of an offside offence. I'm not sure when this concept first started being used but it was abandoned in 1978 when the clause that said a player could not be offside when ''the ball last touched an opponent'' was removed. Because there was some confusion over this, in 1979 the IFAB further clarified that a deflection (or non-deliberate play of the ball) did not preclude offside, by including a diagram showing that a player should still be given offside on receiving the ball, if ''he was in an offside position at the moment the ball was played by one of his own team and interfering with play, notwithstanding that the ball was deflected by [an opponent].''

It was not specifically stated then or in subsequent editions of the laws until 2013, that a player is not offside when the ball is deliberately played by an opponent - it was simply understood that this logically had to be the case.

So while the additional wording put into the law in 2013 regarding a player not being offside from a deliberate play by an opponent was new, the principle underlying it was not. This was a case of changing something from being implicit to explicit, to avoid any possibility of confusion. So even before the 2013 edition of the laws, it was already the case that a player could not be guilty of an offside offence when the ball had been deliberately played by an opponent - it just wasn't spelled out in so many words.

Also, the current law doesn't talk about 'attempting' to deliberately play the ball or make any mention of the outcome, it simply says that, ''A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.''

The more relevant change, in relation to the situation you describe, comes in the definition of ''interfering with an opponent'' where since 2013, ''challenging an opponent for the ball'' is part of the definition. So in the example you give, it doesn't matter if the second attacker received the ball from a deliberate play by an opponent, since the officials evidently decided that an offside offence had already been committed by the first attacker who challenged the defender for the ball.

There has also never been anything in the offside law about a defender having control of the ball, although I acknowledge that many referees will look at whether a defender has been able to exercise some level of control over the ball while playing it, to help in deciding if the play was deliberate. Both FIFA and UEFA have guidelines on how to distinguish between a deliberate play and a deflection wherein one of the factors for it to be a deliberate play is for the ball to be 'properly played' which is very close to the idea of a controlled play.

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