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: 33584

Law 11 - Offside 8/20/2019

RE: Adult

Pete of Gloucester, UK asks...

VAR offside. In the Wolves v Man Utd game the offside VAR pictures showed the vertical line to assess whether the player was in an offside position taken from a line aligned with the back of the ball. I thought the rule was if the player is in front of the ball, is that not the whole ball and the vertical line should have been taken from the line aligned to the front of the ball.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Pete,
the VAR deals in absolutes which may be the way at the pro levels but at the recreational level the old adage WHEN IN DOUBT DO NOT WAVE IT ABOUT is still the best way for ARs or the CR to manage what is ALWAYS going to be a contentious issue. The LOTG give us the technical application but this trend to a billionth of an inch really has me shaking my head.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Pete,

I think perhaps you are interpreting the diagram wrongly. The black line (which it just so happens matches up with the back of the ball) is showing the position of the potentially offside forward. There is a dotted line coming down from the front of the ball that meets the yellow line showing the ball's position.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Pete,
Here's a photo of the incident in question.

There's one black line drawn at the back of the ball. Is it actually drawn to the back of the ball though? As you say, the back of the ball simply isn't relevant. I'd say it's more likely that's the line drawn at the most forward ground contact of the attacker in question - it's right next to the foot of the attacker down the bottom. The yellow line, however, appears to be drawn against the front of the ball, showing that to be in front (there's a question over the shoulder, but we've only seen the 3D technology capable of judging the vertical axis implemented at the World Cup)

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Pete
The Laws were not written for the use of Video Assistant Refereeing. Some amendments have had to be made to the Laws to take account of the use of VAR including one in Law 11 where it states that the first point of contact of the 'play' or 'touch' of the ball by the passing player should be used.
In respect of the ball position on offside calculation that is a good observation.
I can only guess here, as the VAR protocol does not outline what part of the ball is to be taken into account, that the operator namely the Hawkeye operator has been advised to use the back of the ball or that the operator decided that as with other decision such as a goal, ball over the line etc that it is the back of the ball that is used. Perhaps it also showed that even by taking the back of the ball it was still onside so it eliminated any debate either way.
We have seen very tight calls in recent times and the width of a ball is enough to call offside or not. I suspect that incidents like this are being picked up and the protocols are constantly being amended to take account of real game situations.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33584
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.