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Question Number: 32806

Law 11 - Offside 10/16/2018

RE: Other

Robert of Perth, Scotland asks...

If an attacker is in an offside position when the ball is played forwards to another attacker who isnt offside. But when the attacker who isnt offside runs through and passes it back to the other attack who was offside previously, would that be classed as an advantage?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
Under the Laws being in an offside position is not an offence.
So the touch by the onside players begins a new phase of play in which case the previously positioned offside player is free to participate in play again, assuming of course that at the touch by onside player the previously positioned player is in an onside position.
It may be of *benefit* to the player and his team through his starting position yet that is of no concern to the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Robert,
Briefly NO! There is no advantage as it applies to offside in your story!
The LOTG CLEARLY tell us a PIOP (player who is offside positioned) is RESTRICTED from involvement in the further outcome of play but is not penalized for the position!
The LOTG CLEARLY define WHEN a player is offside positioned.
The LOTG CLEARLY define HOW a player is offside positioned.
The LOTG CLEARLY state ONLY if in the OPINION of the referee the PIOP is actually INVOLVED in the outcome of active play is he GUILTY of the INDFK infraction.

What the LOTG do not CLEARLY tell us is when & perhaps why the PIOP is free to rejoin play. Why this is tricky is there is constant movement of defenders/ attackers & the ball that change the picture you look at but not necessarily the consequences or for that matter privileges of earlier positions & actions.

If we examine your scenario we have a PIOP out in front that if he becomes involved by touching the ball or interfering with an opponent he would be called for the IDFK offence. However we have a a non PIOP onside teammate who is the player to TOUCH the ball.
This is a RESET moment!
If at that MOMENT the former PIOP is now FARTHER away from the opposing goal line then the ball when his team mate touches it his restriction is now lifted because he is no longer in an offside position.

The LOTG CLEARLY state last 2 opponents or the ball itself as criteria for determining positional restrictions when a NEW touch of the ball occurs by a team mate establishing new offside restrictions or resets to active play
If the ball is deliberately played by an opponent which also RESETS offside restrictions as a new phase of play, or if that touch is counted as a save , rebound or deflection IT does NOT reset offside restrictions already in place from the old phase of play which WAS the last touch of the ball by a team mate of the PIOP. THIS phase here is where we say a PIOP could be guilty of GAINING an ADVANTAGE from his position and is held accountable for ANY involvement in the further outcome of play.

You state the direction of the pass as back, probably to clarify the position of the former PIOP but the direction of the pass is immaterial in of its self. The ball can be passed ahead and IF the teammate was not determined to be offside positioned he could run onto that ball ahead of all other players. Just as in the opposite the ball could be passed back away from goal and if former PIOP was still in an offside position at the time of the last touch he can not chase that ball back to play no matter how many defenders are now between him or goal when he gets there.

It is these changing pictures that create confusion for although it does seem a PIOP can rejoin play and score a goal after being unmarked because he COULD NOT rejoin play a new touch of the ball by team mate undoes the restriction and he can legally rejoin active play as the restriction is immediately lifted if at the new touch he is NO LONGER in an offside position.

The CR & AR must watch out for the changing circumstances , and interchange of player and who & when & even how the ball is touched or played by either team. For example the attacking team is held accountable for any ball touch initiating a new offside phase be it accidental or deliberate whereas only a deliberate touch by the opposition resets a new phase as a deflection or rebound or save MAINTAINS the old phase of offside for the opposition. If you read our offside interpretation article it might help.
What many people have issues with is a PIOP could look like he is TRYING to be involved in play but in truth he FAILS to impact play if he fails to touch the ball or he in no way interferes with the opposition's ability to get to the ball. What the defenders do or think is not the criteria we look at, only at the PIOP what has HE done or doing?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Robert,
I'm not quite sure what you mean by 'classed as an advantage' but if we're talking in terms of offside, it's definitely not classed as an offside offence.

The Laws of the Game have for several years now, contained a section describing almost the exact same situation that you describe. In the 2018/19 edition (pdf version) this can be found on page 209 and goes as follows:

''An attacker (C) is in an offside position, not interfering with an opponent, when a team-mate (A) passes the ball to player (B1) in an onside position who runs towards the opponents' goal and passes the ball (B2) to team-mate (C). Attacker (C) was in an onside position when the ball was passed, so cannot be penalised.''

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