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: 33683

Law 11 - Offside 9/30/2019

RE: Competitive Adult

Ian Dibdin of Falkirk , Scotland asks...

Attacker tries to play ball over the defense, however the attacker she was playing the ball to moved into a clear offside position, the ball over the top was partially headed by the defender trying to cut the ball out... the ball was deflected slightly to the offside attacker, with the ball continued to go forward with little contact made from the header, this was met by the attacker who went onto shoot, although shot was missed.
A debate ensued with the coach and referee, coach claimed it was offside and a free kick should have been awarded. The referee said that the defender played the ball and it reset the play so the attacker was not offside and a goal kick was awarded on the basis that the resulting play and shot missed the target.
Who was right in this scenario.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Ian,
When a defender makes a deliberate play on the ball, this nullifies offside.
One of the difficult things about this law is that it doesn't have to be a GOOD play on the ball - basically, if the defender has deliberately moved towards the ball and makes contact, that's sufficient.
This is a particularly harsh law - it means that if a defender makes a desperate lunge to stop a ball going through and gets a toe on the ball, then this nullifies the offside.
A few years ago there needed to be an element of control by the defence for the offside to be cancelled but the laws have changed to promote attacking play.
So in your scenario, as the defender jumped for the ball and headed it, the fact that she couldn't get high enough for a good header isn't a consideration - it would be a play on the ball, so this is a fair attack.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ian
Many in the game are still back 10 years plus when it comes to offside. There was a time when this was considered offside while in the modern game under the current Law 11 this is more than likely NOT offside as the defender deliberately played the ball to the player in an offside position.
There can be still situations where the contact of the ball by the defender is considered a deflection which is outlined by Referee Grove.
Have a look at this video
The reason the goal was good was that the White defender played the ball albeit very poorly to the player in an offside position and therefore a reset.
Here is another offside reset on a deliberate play

In this final video the ball rebounds from the defender to the player in an offside position and there was no reset so the correct call was offside.
So to go back to your scenario the referee decided that the header was a deliberate play and as such was entitled to interpret it as a reset.
Here is an example

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ian,
In the scenario you describe, it is up to the judgement of the referee as to whether the defender's actions constituted a deliberate play of the ball, or a deflection. There are no specific or detailed descriptions in the law to help the referee in differentiating between the two, so this is yet another example (and there are many, many such situations throughout a game) where:

''Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the 'spirit of the game' and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.'

When it comes down to this kind of judgement call, it is the case that, in the words of the old adage, 'the referee's decision is final.'

For what it's worth, although the Laws document itself does not give detailed definitions of a deflection and a deliberate play, FIFA and UEFA have both published a document that does, 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''

As you can see, even with these additional guidelines, there it's still scope for interpretation and in the end, it's still up to the referee's best judgement.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33683
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.