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Question Number: 33499

Law 11 - Offside 7/3/2019

RE: Competive Adult

Michael Greenia of Dallas, Tx USA asks...

In today's match between USA and England, was not White (#18 England) offside on the play where she was fouled in the 79 minute of the match and England was awarded a penalty kick?

When the pass was initially made to Stokes, Stokes was onside but White was in an offside position. Stokes took the ball down the field about 10 yards and then she passed it to White. Why wasnt White called for offside as soon as the ball was played to her since the US did not take possession of the ball after White was offside thereby resetting the offside position of White?

Instead of a Penalty Kick for the interference/tripping of White, should it not have been an indirect free kick for the US team?

I took a photo of what I saw, but could not attach it to this email.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Michael,
You need to reconsider offside position every single time an attacker takes a touch.
So, the pass is made through to Stokes.
Freeze frame at the moment of contact. Where is everybody?
Stokes touches the ball - freeze frame again, and delete the old frame.
Where is everybody now?
She runs with the ball - left foot, right foot, left foot...freeze frame, freeze frame, freeze frame.
Offside resets at every single attacking touch.
So it doesn't matter if she was in an offside position at the time of the initial pass if she wasn't involved in active play for that one. When the ball was played to her, was she in an offside position at the moment of that contact? No, she wasn't.

As for the penalty kick - a trip is a direct free kick offence. This is written as such in the Laws of the Game, Law 12, available at

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Michael,
As ref Wright says, offside position is re-assessed every time the ball is touched and each time a new touch occurs, any consideration of where the player was at the time of a previous touch, is discarded. So it doesn't matter where a player was at a previous time, only where they were when the last touch of the ball by a team mate occurred, before they become involved in active play.

The principle is explained on page 221 of the Laws of the Game, 2019/20 edition, pdf version in the following wording which accompanies a diagram illustrating this particular point of law:

''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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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michael
Law 11 allows for phases of play. So when Stokes received the ball White's position unless she was interfering with an opponent in one of the 4 ways listed in Law 11 could not be called offside.
It is not an offence to be in an offside position so play was clearly allowed to continue as Stokes was not offside as she did not meet any of the offside criteria and could not be called offside. Now when Stokes received the ball she began a new phase of play and when she played the ball into the penalty area White by that stage was by now in an onside position and eligible to participate in that subsequent play.
Some in the game do not like the fact that a player in an offside position can subsequently *benefit* from that original offside positioning but that is allowed and the way the Law is framed.
As a extreme example a forward could stand 30 yards in an offside position and do nothing other than wait for a team mate to move the ball forward to place that offside positioned player in an onside position behind the ball at which time the player is free to participate in play. The players starting position makes no difference to the outcome.
Another example is the attacker who stands clearly in an offside position at a free kick behind the offside line. The ball is played to a team mate who is onside and well away from the offside positioned team mate who then heads the ball towards the team mate who by now in an onside position at that second phase. That is not offside. Teams use this tactic to avoid close marking and when teams want to push up the offside line they run the risk of losing the marking on opponents on the second and subsequent phases of play.
In the England situation there was no possible offside so the penalty was the correct call.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Michael,
number 1 concept for referees to grasp about offside, POSITION itself is not an offence! Position is CONSTANTLY reset at every TEAM MATES' touch of the ball.

INVOLVEMENT that occurs ---only--- when Position criteria is in effect, IS the offence!

What is difficult to grasp is an opp player who WAS restricted but NOT previously INVOLVED in play can rejoin active play & be involved the moment a team mate resets the opp players status with EACH new touch of the ball. Upon that new touch the offside position criteria is in no longer in effect & the unrestricted player in no longer in an offside position thus free to become involved.

There was no offside, the PK whether you believe the attacker drew her foot back and caught the defender striding behind her or the defender deliberately nudged the foot to upset her, this was the only decision that required the referee to intervene, it certainly was not for offside!

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