Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 33291

Law 11 - Offside 4/30/2019

Chris of Vancouver, Canada asks...

Ajax (Van der Beeks) goal vs Tottenham today.

Wasnt the player to Van der Beeks left clearly gaining an advantage by being in an offside position forcing the keeping Lloris to not come off his line in case Van der Beek passed to that player.

The player is arguably offside even when the ball is passed to Van der Beek, and continues offside during the whole time that Van der Beek dribbles and shoots with no defender in sight and forcing Lloris to do split-second mental acrobatics as to how to defend, and as a result he does not come off his line, which normally a keeper would do in such a one on one situation.

Wasnt the rule designed exactly for situations like this?.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chris
The use of the term *gaining an advantage by being in an offside position* is unique to situations that involve saves, deflections and rebounds. It should not be confused by *benefitting* in a play situation. In the Ajax goal this was a regular interfering with play or an opponent decision which did not involve a save, deflection etc.
On review is was opined that the Tottenham player Trippier #2 was level with the Ajax goal scorer Van DeBeek so that player could not be offside.
The goal was reviewed by VAR and it was opined that the scorer was level with the Tottenham player at the moment of the pass by his team mate. There was as you say a second Ajax player Neres slightly ahead of the second last opponent Tripper in an offside position yet that player was adjudged to be not involved in active play so no possible offside against that player. That player would have to interfere with an opponent to be called offside.
Being in an offside position is not an offence and there are only four way that a PIOP can interfere with an opponent to be called offside and they are:
# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent's line of vision or
# challenging an opponent for the ball 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
None of those four conditions were met by the PIOP and once the scorer gained possession of the ball that began another phase of play.
The 4th point is the only pertinent one, and is down to whether one believes Neres made a deliberate action which clearly impacted on the ability of Lloris to play the ball when Van de Beek receives it. The way play unfolded that did not happen. and therefore Neres while in an offside position was not causing an offence as outlined in Law 11
Indeed had the scorer played the ball to his team mate Neres who had he stayed behind the ball in an onside position that would not be called offside either. With the advent of VAR these situations are reviewed immediately and TV reviews showed that it was not offside.
The final point I would make is a follow on from Referees Groves reference to IFAB and the need for players to clearly impact on opponents playing the ball in interfering with an opponent situations.. As it currently stands it is not unusual for attackers to stand unmarked in offside positions behind the defensive line at free kicks. Those PIOPs do not participate in the first challenge / phase of play for the ball yet wait for the second phase to participate when more than likely they may now be in an onside position yet probably not marked as closely as they would be. Those players are not considered offside even if it felt that they have *benefited* in subsequent play. Some do not like that yet that is the way it is.
At an extreme example a player could stand 30 yards offside and wait for a team mate to move the ball beyond him, placing him in an onside position which then allows that player to participate in subsequent play. As long as the PIOP does not meet one of the four conditions of interfering with an opponent there is no offence. Causing an opponent to make a choice of what to do because of his position is not one of the four conditions of interfering with an opponent.
I hope that helps

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chris,
There are only two ways that player can be adjudged to have gained an advantage as this is defined in the offside law. These are playing the ball (which clearly did not happen) or interfering with an opponent.

Ref McHugh has given the four clauses that define how a player can interfere with an opponent and as he says, none of these apply. The only one which might come remotely close, is the last one. However the IFAB has been at pains to make it clear (particularly in their Circular #3 which introduced the latest definitions) that in order to be guilty of ''clearly impact[ing] on the ability of an opponent to play the ball,'' the player must directly and clearly impinge on the opponent's actual capability to play or attempt to play the ball. Since nothing Neres did, hindered Lloris's movements or his line of sight to the ball, this fourth condition is not met either. Simply affecting the opponent's thinking or decision-making is not enough to meet the definition.

So for me no, this is not what the law was designed for, in my opinion it is clearly a case of a player that did not gain an advantage according to either the letter or the spirit of the law as currently written.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Chris,
it is a world wide phenomena that spectators often are uncomfortable seeing offside players participate or at least appear to participate in an outcome of play? For some reason, it bothers their sense of fair play. Although I think most now are beginning to grasp the difference between position which is NOT an offence but DOES restrict his involvement versus actual involvement to where a ball is physically touched or an opponent is unfairly interfered with by an offside positionaly restricted player.

Being nearby or always POSITIONALY offside is NOT involvement as long as that restricted player does nothing to hinder the keeper or defenders. It is important to remember what a defender THINKS is NOT a criteria we judge. Lloris split-second mental acrobatics play zero in the determination. Keepers should pray for an offside player to receive a pass. By moving towards the attack it will make that INDFK out a greater possibility then remaining still, wondering what to do.

People watching often understand when the PIOP wandering about the goal is restricted from play but are puzzled when he suddenly is NO longer restricted? Eventually upon the arrival of a team mate who is onside, dribbling the ball, our PIOP, this wandering useless attacker who just moments ago was restricted can now suddenly join play and score a goal or participate in active play legally! He is rejoining play fairly even though formerly PIOP because those watching fail to grasp a NEW offside snap shot occurs every time a team mate touches the ball. Their position on the FOP is revisited with respect to the BALL itself NOT just the location of 2nd last two opponents. & the opposing goal line. I might add so to a deliberate play of the ball by a defender, offside is reset and the restriction of involvement is lifted!, (not withstanding the three exceptions , deliberate save, rebound or deflection of a ball off a defender)

Confusing the terms 'gaining an advantage' which is described offside criteria based involvement resulting in an INDFK
Benefiting from an attack by their team mates while either being in an offside position but NOT interfering with the opposition or touching the ball
OR .
Benefiting from good team work advancing the ball past him or taking the benefit of a deliberate defenders mistake placing him back onside thus no longer restricted.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33291
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 33297

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

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

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.