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Question Number: 32235

Law 11 - Offside 2/14/2018

Larry of Danville, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32233

In your response to Question 32233 you quoted IFAB 'a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalized as it has occurred before the offside offence' Where did you get this quote?

If I understand the quote correctly, then a foul on the defender should be called if a player in an offside position starts to run after a ball but is grabbed by a defender who was standing next to him. Would you also call a foul on the defender if there was a through ball and the OSP ran say 10 yards or more, and the defender ran him down then grabbed him? Does it make a difference if the OSP is the only offensive player who might get to the ball?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Larry,
The wording you refer to is in the Laws of the Game document itself. You can find it both on page 148 of the 2017-18 edition, pdf version and (more pertinently), on page 94 as mentioned by ref McHugh.

Based on the wording in the law, the foul should be called if the player is ''fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball', or challenging an opponent for the ball'' - there is no mention of this not being the case if the player is the only one likely to reach the ball.

However the law does say that if the offside-positioned player plays or attempts to play the ball or challenges the opponent first, then the offside would be called. So it depends on what happened first.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Larry
Taken straight from the Laws of the Game as outlined by Referee Grove. It is also outlined in Law 11 p94.
On the sole player scenario page 196 still allows for the lone PIOP to be penalised before playing or touching the ball.
Now there is somewhat of a debate here about the foul happening before the offside being completed. There is a view that the pull back foul or trip is a more serious offence than the offside and that while the attacker was in an offside position the concession for the early flag is to facilitate the onfield situation that offside WILL be called. If a foul happens which will not allow the offside to be completed then IMO the foul is penalised which is in line with the quote.
I believe it is going to be a judgement call on these situations as they arise as there is somewhat of crystal ball gazing to be done in figuring out what is going to happen. For instance if the ball makes it all the way back to the goalkeeper or out for a throw in or goal kick it is not offside and the pull back is penalised.
Factors such as distance to the ball, other defenders present, does it happen as part of a challenge for the ball etc. I am off the view that the early flag should only be used in the scenarios where the offside is reasonably certain and to prevent challenges, clashes with GKs and opponents
In this video the flag goes up early and correctly so
Now let us say that a defender fouls the Red attacker well away from the ball. I believe the only call that can be made is to call the foul. The early flag is to facilitate the offside actually happening. We know that running towards the ball in itself is not an offence nor does it complete offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Larry
if the Offside player is pursuing the ball and in doing so is blocking the defender from getting to that ball the offside for interfering with an opponent would have ALL ready occurred and a flag raised. If the PIOP was merely standing about and the defender walked or ran over and punched him that VC striking foul would be the REASON to stop play as there was no actual INVOLVEMENT due to the attacker's actions.

The proximity of the player and the actions they are engaged in need to be observed and a decision rendered if yes or no offside is already in effect. Imagine say them going up to head the ball and then the defender say elbows or pushes said PIOP while being challenged for the ball. Chances are offside is the call and the push is ignored or cautioned, the elbow as VC could also be red & a send off. No matter the offside occur for interfering with the opponent that opponent does not get a free whack at the attacker.

Offside does NOT require a physical touch of the ball to be guilty of interfering with an opponent and any chance of man to man contact the flag should be up and about long before any terrible collision could occur? Personally, I find the inclusion of the offside diagram that permits an offside call when only the attacking PIOP has YET to touch it is contrary to HOW they teach that a physical touch of the ball must occur to be guilty of interfering with play. WE must ensure the ball WILL 100% be in play, with no chance of going onto touch or another player from either team can get there ahead of the PIOP.
It is easy to apply interfering with an opponent if a PIOP chases a ball towards the direction of an opponent (often the keeper) due to momentum we want to prevent a collision and to do so play MUST stop before no time distance and speed create the impending collision.

In a hard fought match between the top tier men's teams. The Green team blasted a great shot taken from about thirty yards out to the left of the Red keeper, who only gets a piece of it redirecting the ball it to the right far corner post. A chasing PIOP is running in from the right towards the ball as he lunges at the ball but the ball bobbled up & over his leg, hit the post and deflected into the goal, under the crossbar, over the goal line for a goal. The PIOP as he slides by cradles the ball in his arm as he slide into the netted are of the goal There were screams for offside but I was 100% certain although the PIOP tried to redirect the ball and that was his intention given he NEVER Touched the ball nor prevented any opponent from being able to get there and only contacted the ball AFTER it was a goal( completely crossed the goal line) and thus by removing him from the equation I permitted the goal. Out comes the red coach with a LOTG booklet trying to point out the relevant sections of offside which permit an early whistle as described by my colleagues.

The Red coach was adamant because he was the ONLY attacking player that could get to the ball & he stuck his leg out trying to redirect the ball he played the ball, thus offside. I had to warn him to desist even as I said I get that you are confused but I did promise to explain after the match why this goal is a good goal. I doubt he agrees even now! Lol


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

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