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: 33444

Law 11 - Offside 6/14/2019

RE: Select Under 19

Steve Hampton of Davis, CA USA asks...

I'd like to see a little discussion of the non-offside call in the Brazil v Australia Women's Cup match. The play is here:
I'm interested in the factors a referee considers in this instance. A number of facts are objectively clear (making this a useful case study). The attacking player (Kerr) is in an offside position when the ball is passed. The defender is watching the ball coming from distance and then attempts to intercept the pass, unfortunately (for her) sending it into her own goal. The AR raises the flag for offside, but upon VAR review, no offside is given and the goal stands.

What would the rationale be and what is a defender supposed to do in this instance?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Thanks for the question.
First point is that the opening line of Line 11 tells us that it is not an offence to be in an offside position. The PIOP has to do something more.
That something more is either interfering with play by touching the ball or interfering with an opponent which is one the following.
# 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.
From the video we see that the PIOP does not play the ball nor does she interfere with line of sight nor does she impact on the ability of the opponent to play the ball.
That leaves us with challenging an opponent for the ball and clearly attempting to play the ball when the action impacts on an opponent.
This is the judgement call that had to be made here. Side on this would look like a challenge for the ball or impacting on an opponent. Law 11 also tells us that when a player in an offside position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence.
The VAR review here looks to me that the attacker has misjudged the flight of the ball and she is nowhere near the ball nor the defender that heads the ball into the goal. The covering defender of the PIOP has also lost the flight of the ball and is drawn after her. That defender is not impacted in playing the ball as it is not there to do so. The defender that plays the ball is certainly not impacted by the PIOP so under Law 11 it was not offside. Many years ago this would have been offside yet the modern Law 11 is trying to limit offside and the interpretation has changed significantly.
From grassroots without VAR this is more than likely getting called like the AR does here. We do not have the benefit of VAR to make the call so this will look like offside from a side on view. Perhaps a the referee might see it from a different angle and rule like the VAR. that will not be easy in real time without video.
What it does point to is that what happens around the ball is what is key to the decision not what happens away from the ball. Move the PIOP clearly away from the ball and offside without VAR does not arise period.
Finally from what we see here without VAR at grassroots the AR should stand in position, do not signal for offside and do not signal a goal when there is no clear interfering with play or an opponent. Without the headset the referee when she sees the AR is not confirming the goal must go across to discuss the situation and the reason for the ARs concern.
Once the flag goes up it will look like a clear offside that may have to be overruled which many times is not a good situation to be in.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
Since the player in an offside position (PIOP) has not touched the ball, the only possibility here is 'interfering with an opponent.' As ref McHugh points out, the specific criteria for what constitutes an offence under this sub-category of offside are laid out in the Laws of the Game and and he has quoted the relevant sections in full. I agree with him that nothing the Australian player does, meets any of the criteria for interfering with an opponent that have been set forth by the IFAB.

The various laws changes and the circulars accompanying them in recent years have made it clear that in order to be guilty of interfering with an opponent, the PIOP must clearly and directly have an impact on the opponent's physical ability to play the ball. Simply being in the vicinity and affecting the opponent's thinking or decision-making is not enough. You may think this is a little unfair on defenders and it certainly isn't the way offside used to be interpreted in the past but I think it's fairly clear that under the offside law as currently written, this was not an offside offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
although the Australian player was offside positioned, in the opinion of the VAR and then the CR , she was not in the proximity of the immediate area to be CLOSE enough, she did not prevent the opponent from challenging , she did not interfere with the opponent in such a way as to hinder her efforts. It was a mistake to head this ball, better communication with the other defender was needed. She was kinda in the vicinity and I have no real issues with the late flag looking into the possibility to discuss the offside but the CR made the decision AFTER looking at the situation in the window VAR provided. In real time who is to say we do the same or different but the LOTG are pretty clear this was a good goal.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33444
Read other Q & A regarding Law 11 - Offside

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.