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: 32249

Law 11 - Offside 2/20/2018

RE: Select High School

Chris Bradley of Gibsons, BC Canada asks...

A forward is in an offside position and close to a defender. The ball is played by a team mate to the forward, but is intercepted by the defender who gains control of it. Is it lawful for the forward in the offside position to immediately challenge for the ball? If not, is there a time period when it becomes lawful or do we have to wait for the play to enter another stage?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
This is a judgement call for the referee. Did the defender have an unfettered opportunity to play / control the ball without an opponent interfering with him.
This is what the Laws of the Game define as interfering with an opponent
# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision
# or challenging an opponent for the ball
# or clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent
# or making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball
If none of those are present there is no offside.
Now there can be grey areas where poor control by the defender allows a PIOP to make an immediate challenge for the ball. That most times is going to be called offside as it suggests that the PIOP was close enough to challenge. If however the ball is played away say some 4/5 yards and a PIOP who is maybe a further 2/3 yards away goes after the ball that is going to be a reset as the PIOP had no effect on the play by the defender and it is a reset.
So there is no set time period and it is judged on how play unfolds and whether the defender had time and space to make a play on the ball without challenge. Some will be clearly obvious that it is not offside where the defender is yards away from the PIOP with time and space to get on the ball. When the defender controls and moves the ball away offside is reset. Other times the PIOP is lurking beside the defender with a challenge made immediately.
Here are some no challenges

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chris,
Based on the law saying that it is an offence for a player, who was in an offside position when the ball was last played by a team mate, to challenge an opponent for the ball, I would say that if the challenge is truly immediate, it is almost certainly an offence.

As to a time limit after which it becomes lawful, this is yet another judgement call for the referee to make. The longer it is before the challenge and the more time the opponent has had to control the ball and deal with it properly, the less the chances of it being judged as an offside offence. For me, if the defender is challenged fairly quickly and before they have really had time to deal with the ball, I would probably be calling the offence. As you can see, there are some imprecise terms there and so this is once again an area of subjective decision-making for the referee.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Chris,
proximity in of itself is not necessarily a reason to decide if the PIOP is affecting play by interfering with the opponent although it could be that simply standing in the way is enough. Thus even a passive PIOP can be guilty. I can signal my intent not to interfere even if I step over or move aside or step out off the FOP as long as that movement does not prevent a nearby opponent from their ability to get to or play that ball. AS a PIOP I must interfere with the opponent in some obvious fashion or touch the ball, if even accidentally to interfere with play.

If I as a PIOP am say just leaning over a defenders' left shoulder as he stops the ball with his right foot because I am so CLOSE the AR or CR may well declare offside simply because I looked like I was going to challenge or he may have worried I was going to run into him if I had ANY sort of movement towards he ball.

That is why CLOSE is a BIG deal as is MOVEMENT towards the player receiving the ball.

Yet one could step away, show no interest, allow the defender to regain ball possession by deliberately playing the ball and once the defender has done this I can then attempt to play the ball as that deliberate action has reset my restricted status.

Also if a PIOP has done nothing to interfere even if a yard or two in behind and the defender deliberately plays that ball but makes a mistake. As the PIOP did nothing to interfere the PIOP can in fact take advantage of that mistake as a deliberate play which is NOT a deflection

Regaining 100% CONTROL of the ball is NOT part of the offside reset only that the action to play said ball was a deliberate action instituted by the player!

What it is NOT would be an instinctive reaction or ball impact on his person that deflects or rebounds . Nor according to the LOTG if the players' action was adjudged to be a deliberate SAVE in the action undertaken was made with the obvious effort to prevent a goal not just stop or redirect the ball

However, if a PIOP running towards a defender who is deliberately playing the ball & this PIOP was closing him down & by the time the defender was say to control that ball that PIOP steals it from behind I take issue that the PIOP was likely guilty of involvement and a raised flag should occur. My reasoning is if we are to prevent a collision one must take into account the speed and momentum & direction of movement of a RESTRICTED PIOP into the challenge .

A defender standing still awaiting a ball where a fast incoming PIOP is likely to arrive at almost the same time is a separation of space BUT due to speed the proximity of the challenge is = too standing side by side trying to head or kick that ball away

The subjective decision making in trying to determine if a PIOP is interfering must be based SOLELY on the actions of the PIOP not the reactions of the defenders!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32249
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.