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Question Number: 32123

Law 11 - Offside 12/21/2017

RE: Varsity High School

Kyle Mkki of Fremont, California Usa asks...

Player A1 is standing 5 yards offsides behind defender D1 who had posession of the ball. D1 clears the ball and it hits A2 who was standing 5 yards in front of the ball in an onside position. The ball deflects of A2s back who is turned from the play. It then goes to A1 who is still in his offside position. He plays the ball and dribbles towards goal. I being the AR1 raise my flag for offsides. The center ref waives me down and says the ball was not intentionally played by A2 so thus A1 is onside. What is the correct call in this situation?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Kyle,
The correct call is offside. I think perhaps the referee is getting confused with the part of the NFHS rules (11-1-4) that says a player cannot be offside from a deliberate play by an opponent and is somehow converting that into a situation where there is a difference between a deliberate play and an accidental touch by a team mate.

However this is not the case - when the touch/play is by a team mate, it doesn't matter whether it was intentional or not. A player can always be offside from a touch by a team mate if the other criteria are met and it doesn't matter whether it was an accidental or deliberate touch.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Kyle
The correct decision is offside. Rule 11 makes no provision for whether the play / touch was deliberate, intentional or not. The ball was last touched by A2 to a team mate A1 who was in an offside position at the moment if that touch / play. That meets the requirement of offside.
To quote the relevant section of Rule 11
**A player shall only be penalized for being in an offside position if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by a teammate,that player is involved in active play.....** Touches is the key word in the sentence.
So the ball last touched player A2 and as A1 was involved in active play that meet the offside criteria.
This mirrors the FIFA position exactly. This happened to me in a game a few seasons ago. Exact same situation and the referee correctly took my flag. Attacker A1 complained and I said to him *Who last touched the ball*. Penny dropped that the ball came from his team mate A2 and he knew then that it had to be offside. The player focus was on the kick by the defender not the last touch.
To bring this to an extreme. If A2 was laying on the ground, knocked out and the ball hit him going to the PIOP A1 this would be offside or for that matter if A1 was lying on the ground in front of goal also knocked out and the ball hit him while in an offside position on the ground that would be offside as well. ( play should be stopped for the injury yet it just makes the extreme point should play continues)
FIFA Law 11 and NFHS Rule 11 do not require the play to be deliberate or intentional. Your referee colleague was in error.

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