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Question Number: 32166

Law 11 - Offside 1/13/2018

Zluvka of Liberec, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...

Two sentences from LOTG:

1) For a free kick taken by a team inside their own penalty area, the ball is not considered in play until it has left the area.

2) Offside is judged at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate.

My view:
In this situation the ball is not in play at the decisive moment (at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate).

Is it true? Why is it not the same as goal kick? Does it have any reason? :-)

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Zluvka
There is a principle that any restart for the ball being out of play over a boundary line offside does not apply. So as you know offside does not apply to a goal kick, throw in or corner kick.
We also have the principle that offside applies at all other times so at all free kicks offside does apply including defending free kicks inside the penalty area for offside, fouls by attackers etc. The Laws also want the penalty area to be cleared like a goal kick on free kicks so it made sense to treat it the same with the exception that offside applies.
It is also part of the Laws to be as simple as possible so rather than making exceptions on offside for free kicks inside the penalty area the laws treat all free kicks in the same way.
When evaluating offside on a penalty area free kick the referee makes the determination when it is kicked not when it leaves the penalty area. It would be simply impossible to make the judgement any other way so we disregard the' in play' consideration and accept that the moment the ball is played not when it leaves the penalty area to make the judgement. In addition the time between the kick and the ball leaving the penalty area is inconsequential and it is never considered as relevant by players. The offside doctrine is so firmly fixed on the moment if the kick that a debate about 'in play' is not going to challenge that. Whatever about a paper debate the onfield reality is what counts.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Zluvka,
When the ball is put out of play, be it for a corner, goal kick or throw in, offside criteria does not apply to the restart.

Only on stoppages where a foul or misconduct has occurred or referee prerogative to arbitrarily stop play will the restart have offside guidelines in the active mode at the initial touch. This is true for drop ball as well as a free kick.
The unusual aspect of a ball not being able to be played a 2nd time until it clears the PA or goal area on outgoing kicks rarely has offside conditions to consider as far as involvement even if the POSITION could be determined as offside early on. Something's are what they are, best not worry why so much as is it easy to apply the LOTG ?

Lets say a blue defender pounds a long majestic wind assisted ball on a defending free kick from inside his PA down field towards where a blue striker was standing in front of the red keeper in behind a 2nd last red opponent, who, as the ball was in the air now comes back and is now closer to the goal line than the blue striker. The ball takes an unusual bounce out in front of the PA, just out of reach of the blue striker who is directly in the path of the keeper and the defender, the ball hops up and goes over the head of all three into the goal .

The CR signals goal but wait the AR has a flag up because the blue striker WAS offside positioned at the time the free kick BEGAN. and thus was blocking the keeper's line of sight by the time the ball came down .
Would you award the goal or offer an INDFK out?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Zluvka,
I don't really see any problem here. The law does not say that offside (meaning the offside offence) is judged at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team mate, just that offside position is judged at that moment. However, as the law also states, being in an offside position is not an offence and the judgement of when an offside offence has occurred is not made until the player becomes involved in active play.

So if the player is in an offside position when the free kick is taken, it is not until after the ball has come into play and only if the player subsequently gets involved in active play, that a judgement has to be made on any potential offside offence. For me, there is no quandary caused by these two different parts of the law.

The reason why it's not the same as a goal kick probably goes all the way back to the original Laws of the Game. Under those laws, published in 1863, there was no goal area, goal kicks were taken from on or behind the end line and any player in front of the ball was considered offside. So if you could have been offside from a goal kick, it would have created an unwieldy situation where a player could not be on the field without being in an offside position at a goal kick taken by their team. Free kicks on the other hand can be taken from anywhere on the pitch so it would make more sense for them to be subject to offside consideration.

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