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Question Number: 32421

Law 11 - Offside 5/3/2018

RE: Competitive Under 19

GREGOR GRAMLICH of LARGO, FL United States asks...

I need some clarification on this portion of Law 11: A PIOP receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball, is not considered to have gained an advantage.


1. An attacking player plays a thru-ball to another teammate, who, at the time the ball is played, is in an offside position.

2. A defender attempts to clear the ball, but does not strike it properly. The ball skips off his foot into the path of the attacking player who was in an offside position.

3. The attacking player receives the ball and maintains control.

Does the defender's mis-strike, to clear the ball, qualify as a 'deliberate play', thus negating the offside? I am being told this is not offside. But I don't see the logic in this portion of the law.

To me, the only instance in which I can see 'logic' would be if the defending team literally plays the ball backwards, intentionally, toward his/her own goal (back pass). In that instance, I can see that he/she is taking a 'risk', and the PIOP should then be seen as NOT having gained an advantage.

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gregor,

a miskick is NOT the same as a deflection, if there was no reason for it to be so.

A ball delivered with pace, in close quarters or takes a weird last second redirection can create an auto response because the ball is directed at the player, he is trying to react. Most times we consider THIS as a non deliberate action and as such the PIOP could NOT play that ball without being guilty of gaining an advantage

To qualify the miskick as a deliberate action we would adjudge the player was not unsighted, had time & space to prepare and clear the ball but unfortunately made a mistake while deliberately playing the ball & as a result the PIOP restriction is lifted!

The direction the ball goes plays no part. Only the perspective of the referee!

WE look at WHAT did the defending player deliberately do with the ball?

If we look at it from, What did the BAll do to our defending player , we see more of a deflection than a deliberate play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gregor,
The offside law requires referees to distinguish between a deliberate play by and a deflection (or rebound) from, an opponent. Unfortunately, the law does not give any help on how to make that distinction.

However both FIFA and UEFA have issued some guidelines to help making the judgement, which are as follows.

Deliberate Play: Player moving towards the ball; The ball is expected; A deliberate act; Enough time to play; Balanced and ready to play; The ball is properly played

Deflection: Ball moving towards the player; Finds the ball coming against him; An instinctive reaction attempt to play the ball; Not enough time to play the ball; Has to find his balance first; The ball deflects from the player

As you can see, these guidelines provide many factors to consider although I would have to say that I'm struggling a little to find full justification for them in the Laws document itself and I'm not sure that they're universally applicable but I think they can provide some good food for thought.

In the end, as stated in the Laws, 'Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.'

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gregor
A referee has to determine if the ball has been deflected or if it has been deliberately played in such circumstances.
On many questions I like to use the notion of a scale where in offside at one end we have a certain deflection where the ball has been kicked at short range off an opponents and the ball hits him and goes to a PIOP and at the other end we have a defender in full control of the ball who kick it to a PIOP. In the middle we have a grey area from say 4/7 on that scale.
We also have to take into account perhaps the standard and level of the game.
Have a look at this clip
The Red defender makes a play on the ball, touches it and the ball goes to the White PIOP who is brought down for a penalty. The match officials opined that the Red defender had played the ball albeit very poorly and saw it as a reset. The soccer community was somewhat divided on the call with some believing it should have been called. Most in that offside camp see offside from the old perspective of being based on position rather the modern nuances that IFAB have introduced in recent years.
My view was that it was a misplay of the ball which is not a deflection and the correct call was made.
In my game at the weekend we had an incident where a defender tried to head a ball away, was not tall enough to do so and the ball glanced off the top of his head to a clear PIOP. My AR stuck up the flag and in the circumstances I took it with not much debate I might add. It was one of those grey ones in the middle of the scale that probably gets called offside more times than not. On reflection it was probably not offside yet the call was made in the spirit of the game.

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