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Question Number: 33278

Law 11 - Offside 4/27/2019

RE: High School

Robert C Ross of Random Lake, Wisconsin United States asks...

In regards to offsides, if the defending players, except the goalie, push past midfield, am I right in understanding that the striker has to stay on our half of the field until the ball is hit? Or can they go past midfield? Im assuming this is the whole reason you can't be offsides on your own half stipulation. I just want to make sure.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
A player cannot be in an offside position in his own half. If the only defending player in his own half is the goalkeeper then the halfway line is the offside line.
If a forward is over the half way line with only one player between himself and the goal line, that is the goalkeeper, then the attacker is in an offside position and may not participate in active play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Robert ,
Yes, you CAN NOT be declared to be in an offside position if you are within your own half WHEN your team mate touches the ball. No matter where the defenders are . All 11 opponents could be inside your goal area and as long as you are on your side of the mid-line when a long clearing ball is kicked into the opposition 's half from your Penalty area by a team mate you can run into their half all by yourself knowing you were ok to pursue that ball.

The keeper is but one of 11 opponents when it comes to offside,. Usually by nature of his position he is the last defender on most occasions but he can go up-field, PAST the mid-line right into the opposition goal area should he want too. As my colleague states, only if you started within the opposition's half & the opposition keeper was still inside his half could you possibly be offside as he is but ONE of the two necessary opponents required to place you onside by virtue of your position on the FOP It does NOT apply if you STARTED your run from within your OWN half when the ball was last played by your teammate.

Although you can not START off in an offside position to receive the ball from a teammate inside the opposition's half of the FOP . You certainly can stand or be in a non interfering offside position up until the teammate with the ball passes you. As long as the ball is closer to the opposing goal line than yourself when he passes/last touches it , you are now onside and free to pursue the ball . When there are no defenders in the offside equation then the ball itself becomes the imaginary offside line.
Cheer s

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Robert,
It is true that a player cannot be in an offside position in their own half of the field. I'm not sure what you mean by ''the whole reason'' for this stipulation. The change to exempting a player from being offside in their own half came in 1907, but at that time it still required three (or more) opponents to be between a player and the opponent's goal to prevent them being offside so although there was no reason given for the change at the time, it's clear that it didn't have anything to do with the scenario you describe.

You are also correct that so long as the player is in their own half when the ball is touched by a team mate, they can then run forward into the opponent's half to receive the ball without committing an offside offence.

The laws used to specify this in the following terms:

''A player who is not in an off-side position when one of his colleagues passes the ball to him or takes a free-kick, does not [...] become off-side if he goes forward during the flight of the ball.''

In answer to your other query - no, the player cannot go past half-way before the ball is hit without then being in an offside position and subject to the restriction on becoming involved in active play. I think I know what might be on your mind - it's the myth which I have heard several times (though seemingly only from people based in the US, for some reason) that if there are no outfield defenders in their own half, the restriction on attackers crossing the mid-line is removed. This is totally untrue - a complete myth.

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

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