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Question Number: 32292

Law 11 - Offside 3/10/2018

RE: Competitive High School

Jim Laydon of Iron Mountain, MI USA asks...

An attacker is in an offside position just over the half way line. A long pass is sent. The attacker runs toward the ball and gains possession at the top of the 18. Should the flag and reset be near the halfway line where the attacker started running toward the ball or at the top of the 18 where he gained possession. When is he considered in the play?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jim
The IDFK is taken from where the player in an offside position touched the ball or interfered with an opponent. Now the difficult one is where the offside flag goes up for the lone attacker whose does not touch the ball on the basis that no other onside player can play the ball. The Law is mute on the location of the restart in those situation and we have to assume that the restart is from the location of the offside flag. At the higher levels the IDFK is taken from the location of the flag.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jim.
a good question.

I am happy with the top of the 18 as that is where ACTUAL involvement occurs.
There is some doubt as result of the LOTG keeping a segment of contradiction in an offside interpretation that IF a PIOP is in pursuit of the ball and is the ONLY possible recipient and there is no way that ball will be going out of play into touch or played by any other player an EARLY flag can be considered. Personally I feel this portion of the LOTG to be unnecessary and misleading as this directly contradicts what interference with play is (REQUIRES a physical touch of the ball.)

Lets set this in perspective.
a ball that has been shot towards the goal, the nearest opponent was the beaten keeper at the top of the 18. The ball is headed towards the goal and is STILL being pursued by a PIOP cutting in on angle who looks 100% likely to be able to get to that ball ahead of it crossing the goal line. Yet if he TOUCHES the ball it WOULD be offside so in running after it he arrives at the ball location at say 6 yard goal area and tries to kick the ball but the ball bobbles a bit, he stumbles and falls completely missing the ball. Notwithstanding the ball never required his touch to cross the goal line, which it does for what SHOULD Be a legitimate goal yet the AR has a raised flag claiming he tried to play the ball, was the only one in pursuit and could have contacted the ball before it exited the FOP except for the bobble miss. Personally for me this is a legitimate goal with a kick off not an INDFK out! My reasoning is IF a ball has sufficient momentum to escape into touch ONLY a physical touch is sufficient for a PIOP to truly interfere with play. BECAUSE if you remove him from the playing field NOTHING about the outcome changes! He could ONLY have prevented the goal not scored it!

Take the goal out of equation with a ball headed into touch say near a corner flag or a touchline with a PIOP in pursuit as the ONLY possible player to get to that ball and there is 100% confidence he is travelling fast enough to get to that ball BEFORE it exits the FOP . My feeling is BECAUSE there is a momentum where a ball COULD exit, ONLY a physical touch qualifies. When a ball is in NO WAY going out of play or is stopped and stationary NOW that slight inclusion of the early flag might be plausible where a PIOP in pursuit is GOING to get to it 100%.

If as AR I raise the flag for a PIOP in pursuit but the player had not yet touched the ball I place the restart at the location WHERE I think the contact would have occurred at a few strides away. Given the INDFK restart location for offside has little of the blade of grass restart requirement when in the defending third.
I find the change to involvement as the correct location for the INDFK dictates closer to the 18 then at mid line. After all it is a gift of possession being offered to the opposition.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jim,
According to the main part of the offside law, the indirect free kick should be taken where the player became involved in active play - so in the scenario you describe it is straightforward, the kick would be on the edge of the penalty area.

Now, in the section of the full Laws document entitled, 'Practical Guidelines for Match Officials' we find the following, which slightly modifies the above:

''A player in an offside position may be penalised before playing or touching the ball, if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.''

When this clause is invoked, it means the player did not become involved in active play which makes it impossible to give the IFK at the position of the actual involvement, since there was none.
For me, when this happens, the most logical position to give the kick is where the player was when the AR decided to flag. However the law does not specify one way or the other.

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