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Question Number: 32101

Law 11 - Offside 12/14/2017

RE: Competitive Under 19

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

This question is a follow up to question 32094

Thank you for your answers. I recall the play as the PIOP being at least 5 yards away at the time the defender tries to clear the ball. So in my opinion play should have continued.

I would say until a few years ago the defender had to have clear control of the ball before an errant pass to an attacker in offside position was ruled not offside. Now it seems any deliberate attempt by the defender negates the offside (unless when saving a goal). Sure makes life much harder for the defense.

Could you comment on the video examples in the little blog I set up for my young referees?
Do you agree with my assessment of:
NO OFFSIDE (despite call on field)
OFFSIDE (despite call on field)

And if not, please elaborate.
Thank you

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tom
Sometimes there is no need to call an offside even if there is one. I have on occasion allowed play to continue on a dubious offside when the ball has been cleared away with no disadvantage to the offended against team.
On the Arsenal one my recollection was that the distance was a lot closer and enough for interfering with an opponent to be considered. Your original descriptions said * 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*. That is always offside as the PIOP has challenged an opponent for the ball. If there is no challenge and the ball is kicked to the PIOP who is stood a distance away in an offside position there is no possible offside. Both are totally different scenarios with one being offside by interfering with an opponent and the other is receiving the ball from an opponent on a deliberate play which cannot be offside.
As to your Blog
First one is not offside as the player heads the ball to the player in an offside position. This one caused a lot of debate at the time as some opined that the ball deflected off the defender.
Second one is not offside either as again the ball is deliberately played by the defender to the PIOP.
Third one is offside as the play by the defender would be considered a save which is not a reset.
Last one is offside as the ball rebounds off a defender to the player in an offside position.
What the videos point to is the matters of opinion to be made on plays as to what constitutes a deliberate play, save, a rebound and a deflection. Some associations have come out with advice for referees at the higher levels so as to assist in those interpretations.
According to the LotG a save is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to their goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within their penalty area). For me the 4th video meets that definition.
There is no advice / glossary term on a deflection while a rebound is somewhat clearer in that it comes back in the opposite direction with the ball hitting the player, post etc. There can be a fine line between a deliberate play and a deflection.
This was opined as a deflection? Was it a poor deliberate play?

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

A defender who is surprised by a fast moving ball be it arriving unseen or at a strange angle or a rapid change of direction or very fast at close range will instinctively react and this reaction should not be confused with a deliberate preplanned attempt to play the ball gone astray as a mistake. As an opinion on a fact of play it can be difficult to make a 100% firm yes that was or no it was not which is why unless I am 100% yes that is definitely offside I allow play to continue.

I have seen many reactive situations to which I see deflection rather than deliberate intent to play the ball. If I run after a ball and try to kick it or jump at it THAT is a deliberate action , if while doing so the ball hops bobbles or skims off our bodies or swerves to a place we wish it did not that is a mistake and the PIOP gets a gift. The issue is we make mistakes but it was not our intention. We wanted to clear that ball, stop that ball or head that ball away from danger we took a chance and it wound up as an oops.

Yet if we react to a ball in a crowd or that appears to be coming near us it is NATURAL instinctive to stick out a leg to prevent it going by. If we did it with the hands it would be deliberate handling as the ARMS CAN NOT be used . However out body parts that can and should play the ball are not robotic attachments they react to stimulus . A ball directed at or near is difficult to refrain from taking a swing or poke at . This is where we run into balancing our opinion of the definition of deliberate actions overriding instinctive reaction creating deflections/rebounds.

I am all for attacking soccer but it is rather peculiar that we take an awkward stab at a late arriving or fast arriving or unanticipated angle arrival of a ball as deliberate action rather than a instinctive reaction . I hold the opinion TIME to react, space to react & awareness to react create the adjustment mechanisms a player has to employ to prevent a deflection or rebound through a definite deliberate action rather than reaction.

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