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Question Number: 32953

Law 11 - Offside 1/4/2019

RE: Adult

Dimitris of Athens, Greece asks... Happy New year..A tricky call here , offside or not? Go at 0:35

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Happy New Year to you too!

This is offside for me. Interfering with an opponent includes 'preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision' and/or ' clearly attempting to play a ball which is close 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'

Crossing the path of the ball after the shot would be obstructing the vision for me. The attempt at a heel flick might be enough for the 2nd or 3rd points, but that action itself doesn't clearly have an impact on the keeper - but I think blocking the view is enough.

These ones are tricky - personally I think the AR needs to alert the referee to the player in the offside position as the referee is better placed to make a judgement on interference.

Of course it may be that the AR didn't even see that he was in an offside position - it was very, very close after all.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Dimitris,
With the benefit of freeze frame and multiple replays from various angles of view, I agree with my colleague ref Wright that this is most probably offside. He has quoted the sections of the law that apply and as he says, this would come under the category of interfering with an opponent and for me, you could use any one of the three sub-categories he lists, to justify the decision.

In real time and assuming this was a game played without VAR technology it would be very difficult for the match officials to make this decision - as ref Wright further states, it's a very marginal offside position in the first place, not to mention the difficulty (especially for the AR) in seeing exactly where the player was in relation to the flight of the ball and the keeper's line of sight.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Dimitris
It is for situations like this that I dislike offside Law 11.
With the benefit of technology we can see that the attacker was marginally in an offside position and as that PIOP interfered with an opponent as alluded to by my colleagues it was offside. Without VAR and in real time this would just be too tight to call so the AR did what was asked of him which was to only call obvious offside. To the naked eye and at pace this would look highly questionable.
Which leads me to my first point. Law 11 was never intended for such situations. It's original import was to move attackers out mainly from the last third / attacking half and to participate fully in team play. In the early game attackers tended to stay in the last third regularly rather than tracking back. Law 11 was introduce to prevent this. Now it has in my opinion blighted the game. In too many instances goals have ruled out for offside, correctly I might add, yet for no other reason than being in a technical offside position perhaps a few yards from a team mate. For me offside should only apply in that first clear out of defence by defenders with attackers left back in an offside position. Once play has turned around and play has moved back towards goal in a pressing situation offside should not apply once play has retreated back into the last third. Why should an attacker who has perhaps retreated back into his own half to defend be called *off his side* because of a technical position a few yards from most of his team mates who are attacking in the last third.
The modern game is bereft of goals and Law 11 is no longer needed as currently constituted. It has also caused too many controversies in the game with freeze frame etc with teams feeling hard done by such as in situations like this. Think about it. Has the conceding team really been *offended* against just because of the position of an opponent? Yes under Law 11 yet
In our Irish national football game there is no offside and teams have the choice to retreat players back to defend or to leave them in attacking positions. Most choose defending with players tracking back. It allows imo for a better game with no technical offences due to player positioning.
If soccer wishes to retain offside I suggest that it should be restricted to the first movement of defenders upfield after a clearance, goal kick etc. Once defenders and play has retreated back in with no immediate offside then offside should not apply after that. Questions like this then does not arise.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson


I will say that in my opinion the back foot of the defender (a playable body part) looks to be in line with the head of the attacker (also a playable body part) at the time of the shot. Even is sufficient .

The arms are not part of the offside, only playable body parts. In real time soccer this could easily be a goal as it would be too tight to give a true mathematical position if the most leaning playable body part of an attacker was 1 centimeter closer than the outside of the defender's foot. The first touch moment of the ball by the team mate releasing it is used to adjudge position of the PIOP attacker not when the ball gets to the attacker. I can see drawing an imaginary line across the field we need to draw one from the ground up to intersect where or if the head or foot meets at all in relationship to the goal line? The Var system actually used such a plotting system. So you get a 3d image, in a rotational computer you can get it to a millimeter .

Most of us that do the regular Sunday matches never get to worry about mere centimeters. ONLY if I am SURE it IS offside do I award offside. I work most matches as a single official and I make no apologies based on my effort to be in good positions to worry if one team is trying to push up all the time, waving their hands in the air asking to go to the washroom!

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

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