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Question Number: 33631

Law 11 - Offside 9/7/2019

RE: Travel Under 13

Steve of NOVA, USA asks...

I have a couple scenarios which seem to have some grey area.
Attacking player A is in an offside position by a half foot or so when the ball is kicked. Defending player deliberately sticks foot out in a kicking motion to try to block the pass and it grazes the foot. The ball does not noticeably change direction from my Linesman position 3o yds away (my angle was more perpendicular to the play). Center Ref initially does not see player in an offside position and play ends up in a goal. I had flag up at time ball was kicked and center ref calls goal back. Linesman from 60 yds away tells ref at half that because the ball was touched by the defence the goal was good. What is the correct call?
Attacking Player A and B are about 4 yds apart. Defending Player A is in between the 2 attackers. Attacking Player B is in an offside position, Pass come toward both players and only Attacking Player A plays the ball forward with the head which puts Attacking Player B back on sides behind the ball. AP A then passes to AP B who is now on sides. Does proximity to the ball / defender between the 2 attackers account for influence in the play?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
Thanks for the questions.
I concur with my colleagues on these.
On the first one it is a judgement call as to deliberate play or deflection, both of which are touches on the ball. From your description it reads more like a deflection. At Under 13 I am also leaning more towards deflection and not a reset.
On the second one the player in an offside position has to do something more than just proximity. That something more is listed in Law 11 and if the PIOP in the judgement of the officials meets one of the four conditions offside should be called. The conditions 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**
Those are obviously a judgement call for the officials to make based on the circumstances of play.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,

You're correct when you say that both these scenarios involve grey areas.

A: There is no 'correct' call here. It is up to the referee's judgement as to whether the defender's actions amount to a deliberate play of the ball or not. For what it's worth, after the clause about a deliberate play by the defender 'resetting' offside was introduced, both FIFA and UEFA published a chart with some recommendations as to differentiating between a deflection (which does not reset offside) and a deliberate play (which does). It went as follows:

Deliberate Play: Player moving towards the ball; The ball is expected; A deliberate act; Enough time to play; Balanced and ready to play; The ball is properly played

Deflection: Ball moving towards the player; Finds the ball coming against him; An instinctive reaction attempt to play the ball; Not enough time to play the ball; Has to find his balance first; The ball deflects from the player

There was an incident relatively recently (2018) when this question came up in relation to a play in an MLS game. Howard Webb, Manager of Video Assistant Referee Operations for the MLS, made some comments that seemed to echo the considerations listed above.

Webb said that FIFA offers referees guidance on how to differentiate the gray areas between a deliberate play and a deflection.

A deliberate play is explained as a player moving toward the ball, or taking steps toward the ball and then making a play on it, as opposed to an instinctive reaction to play the ball. 

''When you see a player suddenly react, stick a leg out, for example, at a ball that's coming at them with pace, that's not considered a deliberate play of the ball,'' Webb told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

''It wasn't something that was meant as a pass to a colleague, it wasn't meant as a clearance,'' Webb said. ''It was just a reaction, stick the leg out and the ball bounced off the leg. The player didn't have time to play the ball -- that's another consideration. Didn't really have balance and the ball deflected off him.''

B: Another judgement call for the referee. As ref Dawson so rightly states, the issue here is whether the player in an offside position materially affected the defender's actual ability to play the ball. Mere proximity is not enough on its own, there had to be a real impediment to the defender being able to play the ball. If there was, the referee would be justified in calling an offside offence. However, if the referee judged that the player had not prevented the defender from being able to play the ball, there would be no offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Steve,
gray areas are generally JUDGMENT decisions based on the opinion of the match referee.

your first situation is whether or not the action undertaken by the defender was a deliberate action that was performed poorly (this DELIBERATE action RESETS all opposition offside restrictions) versus an actual deflection which is a spontaneous reaction to the ball with an unintended result. (deflections by defenders DO NOT reset the offside restriction of attackers).

The ball can strike a defender unaware or even if he can see it, at such a fast pace or crazy angle that he can not effectively prepare himself to deliberately redirect this ball . In other-words he has no time or space to react deliberately to the incoming ball so when struck it is deflection by reason of an instinctive reaction or a rebound off his body

The defender who in the opinion of the referee has the time & composure to not be affected by the ball speed or a blocked line of sight or other mitigating factors and proceeds to move in a deliberate fashion to kick at & clear or seek to control the ball but makes a mistake or fails to do as he intended, this does not absolve him of the fact he deliberately played the ball albeit poorly and thus resets the oppositions' offside positional restrictions.

Your second situation is based on whether the proximity & actions of the offside attacker affected the ability (NOT the decisions ) of the defender to be able to play the ball on the 1st incoming pass. Once Attacker A plays the ball, it resets the offside positional restriction of Attacker B. Play goes on .

There would have had to be an offside involvement by Attacker B that effectively interfered with the DEFENDER in some manner ahead of Attacker A playing the ball. We are advised that in cases where an onside and an offside attacker are in pursuit of the ball, we wait for an actual touch.

UNLESS the offside player does something that can be construed as interfering with an opponent in challenging for that ball Proximity could be enough if say the defender had to run around the offside attacker to GET to the onside attacker or perhaps he is in the line of sight in that he blocks the keeper from the ball flight?

As you can see from my answers a YES it is or a NO it is not, is simply not a plausible option given the JUDGMENT required is based on the opinion of the referee and his interpretation of the circumstances.

Much like a handling foul I see free kicks given for non fouls just as I see free kicks awarded for a non offside. The consequences of a wrong decision in either offside, INDFK out is to take away a goal or opportunity or perhaps in a handling error allow the opportunity of a goal with a DFK/Pk going in?

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