Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 32248

Law 11 - Offside 2/20/2018

RE: Select High School

Chris Bradley of Gibsons, BC Canada asks...

At our referee meeting we were shown a video clip (I think from a women's World Cup game) demonstrating an offside play. The ball was played forward and a defender attempted to clear the ball in the opposite direction, but sliced the ball and it went to a forward who was in an offside position. The flag was raised and the whistle blown. There was much discussion amongst our referees as to whether or not the defender's kick resulted in the ball being deliberately played to the forward. The contentious line in the rule book is 'receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball ..... is not considered to have gained an advantage.' What is the correct interpretation in this case?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
This is a judgment call to be made by the referee and assistant. Was the touch on the ball a deflection / rebound or a deliberate play. If it is a deliberate play then it is a reset of offside. The quality of the deliberate play is irrelevant just that it has to be deliberate.
Here is a site that has UEFAs advice to referees on deliberate play v deflection
As you can see this is very subjective and it depends very much on opinion. Without seeing the video clip I would say offside from your description which suggests an attempt to play the ball that was sliced to a PIOP. That reads to me as a deliberate play and a reset.
In real time and in a game situation it might look debatable as to how deliberate the kick was and therefore into the deflection camp so the decision can be to call it. The video might also be shown to demonstrate that the call was incorrect.
Here is a difficult one
Is it a deflection or a deliberate play. FIFA opined it was a deflection? Obviously debateable with some suggesting that it was a deliberate play. If a straw poll was taken I would say that referees would be divided on the call.
Have a look at this one. Referee crew decided it was a deliberate play by Red and a reset

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chris,
The vast majority of decisions made by a referee in a game involve a certain amount of discretion. There are relatively few that are absolutely mandatory and many can only be judged when seen in their full and actual context. There is an acronym for this - YHTBT or 'you had to be there.' Even then, as ref McHugh says, you could show the same incident to different referees and get different opinions as to the correct call.

One of the more subjective decisions a referee has to make (at least based on the amount of debate these incidents can cause) can be whether a touch on the ball by a defender is a deliberate play (which precludes an offside decision against an opponent) or a deflection which means the opponent can still be given offside. Although equally, it can sometimes be absolutely obvious that a play on the ball is deliberate, there are times when it falls into a very grey area.

Unfortunately there is no help in the Laws of the Game on how to tell the difference between the two. Ref McHugh has given a link to UEFA's guidance on differentiating between them but I still think it leaves room for discussion.

So in the end it isn't really possible to say from your description, which is definitely the correct interpretation and (as with many decisions) it's up to the referee to decide.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Chris,
bluntly there is no saving yourself from a mistake.

The LOTG are clear if YOUR team has the last touch of the ball (no matter accidently , on purpose, through deflection or rebound) then your offside positioned personal are temporarily restricted.

If the OPPOSITION has last touch on the ball it COULD free the other team's restrictions IF that touch was ITOOTR -- (in the opinion of the referee) done as a deliberate play.

There are three exceptions to this touch concept.

1st is if that deliberate attempt to play the ball was the result of a deliberate SAVE. that likely prevented a GOAL.

2nd is the REBOUND where a ball could hit an official, a corner post, a goal post or a crossbar and remain in play

3rd is the deflection the HARDEST of all situations to determine because if a ball inadvertently strikes a player and that ball changes direction or alters its course it could look almost the same as a deliberate mistake.

Some defections are difficult to get right because a player who instinctively reacts to the balls proximity maybe unaware of the ball flight or that ball flight might unexpectedly be altered. The player may have insufficient time or space to react in a deliberate fashion due to how fast or how close the ball is when struck in his direction.

What is difficult for newer and even experienced referees is HOW to process a players reactions to an incoming ball that AFTER the contact obviously or obliquely goes towards an opposing PIOP?

The LOTG state a PIOP CAN NOT benefit off a deliberate save a rebound or a deflection.

The LOTG also state IF an opponent deliberately plays the ball it RESETS ALL restrictions of a PIOP. This is because the ball is NOT last touched by a teammate but now played by a defending opponent.

It is NOT that the ball is deliberately played from the opponent to the PIOP but the ball is in fact deliberately played by the opponent, the direction of the ball is COMPLETELY irrelevant.

When a defender chooses to take that step or run towards jumps to head or swing the leg at the ball in an effort to play that ball the fact he miss kicks it as a MISTAKE, the ball is redirected towards a FORMER opposing PIOP. I can assure you, it was most likely quite accidental, the defender obviously had no thought of doing this but his INTENTIONS should play no part in whether a referee will see WHAT he does/did as a deliberate action!

The referee must use his judgment to establish if that ACTION to PLAY the ball was an instinctive reaction to the balls proximity at or near his body or a deliberate action where ITOOTR there was time and space and line of sight opportunity to deliberately move the body into the path of the ball in a sincere effort to intercept but unfortunately the attempt was unsuccessful.

There will be moments where the decision between deliberate and deflection will be hazy given the speed of play, line of sight, angle of view. But as in judgment of deliberate handling UNLESS you are 100% sure do not call it let play continue. Keep in mind the emphasis on attacking soccer, more goals & entertainment offside is emphasized as WHEN in Doubt Do not wave it about.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32248
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.