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Question Number: 32460

Law 11 - Offside 5/21/2018

RE: Premier Elite Under 18

Eric Baughman of Mansfield, Connecticut United States asks...

Offside question - attacker with speed takes a shot which is rebounded. His momentum carries him off the field over the goal line. Goalie and a defender are standing on the goal line. The ball is shot again (while attacker is still off field) and rebounded again near area where attacker went off field. He quickly returns to the field, shoots and scores. Entire play took about 4 seconds

I was AR and I signaled offside as he was ahead of both ball and 2nd to last defender. Attacking team claimed that because 2 defenders were on goal line, there is no way anyone could be offside.

Every referee I have discussed this with agrees he was offside. But I have a nagging feeling that we are all wrong. What say you?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eric
The decision rests on the location of both opponents at the moment the second shot. If the goalkeeper and the defender were stood ON the goal line then the attacker is placed also on the goal line for offside purposes which makes the attacker onside as he is level with the two last opponents.
Now if either the defender or the goalkeeper moved even a fraction off the line then it is offside. The goal line is no longer the offside line in that scenario but the location of the 2nd last defender.
In reality I think it is unusual for both opponents to be stood exactly ON the line at the moment of a shot. In real time it will be a difficult call as unless the two opponents are exactly on the line or behind it the offside line will be the part of the 2nd last opponent capable of playing the ball not ON the line. Goalkeepers and defenders are rarely ever stood still on the line and move around it in open play. Perhaps at a corner kick they may be stood on the line or maybe on a goal line scramble yet in open play it is not my experience.
In these video there are many examples of defenders on the goal line or close to it. In all the examples I can see perhaps two examples @ 5.41 and 6.01 where both defenders are on the line which makes the goal line the offside line. Any attacker stood on the line or beyond the line off the field of play legally at the moment of a shot / touch would be level and therefore onside. You can see dynamic movement which changes that offside line constantly rather than the fixed line of the goal line when opponents are stood on it or behind it.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eric,
The law says that in this scenario, the attacking player:

''shall be considered to be positioned on the goal line for the purposes of offside.''

So as ref McHugh says, if there are two opponents actually on the line, that would make the attacking player technically level with them and as I'm sure you are aware, the law says that level is onside. However he is also correct in saying that in most cases in open play, the opponents will probably not be exactly on the line and if they are even a sliver in front of it the attacker would be offside. I also think (though this is just my personal opinion) that the expectation is that a player off the field like this is in a 'more advanced' position than the defenders and will be called offside if they come back onto the field and get involved in active play. So my feeling is that using the 'what football wants/expects' test, a player coming back onto the pitch to play the ball like this will be called offside more often than not.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Eric,
If indeed the there were two defenders actually on the Goal line at the TIME the 2nd shot shot occurs . Then technically the returning attacker if off the field comes back, if there has been no subsequent teammate touch of the ball then YES he is onside and free to play. The key moment is to FREEZE FRAME the positional locations of those two opponents at the time of the 2nd shot as players move back an forth and could move further out MAKING it look like he was offside upon returning. The thing is if say the back heel of one defender is on the goal line or breaking the plane of that 5 inch goal line and the rest of him is sticking out into the goal area, even though by the way the LOTG interpret he IS on the goal line, he will look far from it when the attacker steps back in.

It its NOT an offence to exit the FOP through momentum, the attacker did nothing wrong in trying to return ASAP as is his duty. IF THERE WERE 2 opponents ON the goal line at the time of the SHOT, not LATER or BEFORE then the goal could have counted as he would be level with the defenders even if two feet in behind lol !

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Offside Question?

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

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