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Question Number: 32109

Law 11 - Offside 12/18/2017

RE: competive Adult

Dean of macomb, mi USA asks...

An attacking player, In offside position,receives the ball from a teammates pass after it bounces off the of a defender who reaches out with his leg. Is this player guilty of an offside offense?
The defender who reaches out with his leg or attempt to play the ball.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Dean,
your concerns should be if the bounce of the ball off the leg of the opponent is a deflection or rebound or a deliberate save in which cases the offside positioned teammate will be declared as receiving an advantage thus offside involved with the INDFK awarded.

You are to also consider if the opposing defender deliberately played the ball that was NOT a save and simply made a mistake in clearing the ball in which case the offside teammate would be free to accept the pass.

Consider the reaction of the defender as instinctive (no time to formulate a plan) or reactionary (ability to see and determine a choice of outcome?)

The defender tries to intercept a ball headed towards a streaking offside opponent but has no knowledge that opponent is offside? Was there time, space and ability for the defender to CHOOSE an acceptable action to play the ball as a deliberate action or was there an off balance stab at a ball zooming by or an awareness of the ball at all with the time and space to be able to deliberately play that ball with purpose?

As an opinion on a FACT of play that is YOUR determination of the defender's actions which will create offside yes or play on!

For what it is worth I hold an opinion if the defender has sufficient time to run towards or jump up at a ball he is making a deliberate attempt to intercept it and a failure is a mistake more than a deflection or rebound if it goes wrong. Yet if the defender is simply trying to instinctively stop the ball moving past him or that ball was directed right into him in a fast or inconvenient manner such an attempt is more instinctive and should not be labelled as a deliberate action if it goes astray more a deflection or rebound.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dean
The answer lies in the opinion of the match officials. Was the touch by the defender a deflection / rebound or a deliberate play if the ball?. If it is a deliberate play offside is reset and there is no offside.
The challenge is to determine the difference and some referee bodies have tried to advise referees as to the difference. This is what UEFA advised
** The ball is deflected when it changes direction and the player:
Does not move towards the ball
Finds the ball coming against him and attempts to play it
Creates an obstacle (Free kick or shot)**
Now there can be a fine line between a deflection and a deliberate play. In a split second an AR has to decide the difference.
Have a look at this video
Would you say it was a deflection or deliberate play? FIFA opined it was a deflection an therefore offside for gaining an dvantage by being in that offside position.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Dean,
This is a classic example of a situation where it is almost impossible to decide without actually seeing the incident in question. The referee has to decide whether the touch by the defender was on the one hand a deflection, a rebound or a deliberate save (in which case there could be an offside offence) or on the other hand, a deliberate play which would mean no offside offence. Even then, you could give the same incident to a group of referees to look at and get different responses - some seeing it as a deliberate play and others as a deflection.

To be honest, I would say the Laws of the Game do not give too much guidance to help referees in deciding. In addition to the UEFA wording mentioned by ref McHugh, there was also a set of criteria that were published by both FIFA and UEFA as follows:

''Deliberate Play: Player moving towards the ball; The ball is expected; A deliberate act; Enough time to play; Balanced and ready to play; The ball is properly played

Deflection: Ball moving towards the player; Finds the ball coming against him; An instinctive reaction attempt to play the ball; Not enough time to play the ball; Has to find his balance first; The ball deflects from the player''

As you can see from this, at least according to FIFA and UEFA, an instinctive attempt to play the ball leans the decision more towards a deflection that a deliberate play.

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Offside Question?

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

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