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Question Number: 33862

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/30/2020

RE: Under 19

Jeremy of Boston, MA USA asks...

Can you caution for delaying the restart if they intentionally continually go offside? Say that Team A is leading and there are 5 minutes left. Team A's left and right forward just start running go routes straight down the field way past the defense, a midfielder blasts it towards them and the left/right touch line, player is clearly offside, and they just let the ball go when they get called. And do this 3, 4, 5 times, just blasting the ball up field to take the offside call and let the ball roll far away

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeremy,
You certainly can't caution a player for delaying the restart by committing an offside offence, even repeatedly. Simply committing such an offence would cause a restart, it would not delay it. After the free kick is given, if the player did something to delay the restart, you could then caution them - but that would be for actually delaying the restart, not for being offside.

A more pertinent question might be, could you caution a player for persistent infringement if they keep committing offside offences? The answer here is that while theoretically that might be possible, in actual fact it never happens and (in my considered option) it never would.

This is primarily because, as my colleagues have pointed out, teams don't do this - it doesn't make any sense since, as they have further mentioned, there are much better ways to waste time and teams all know what they are.

There is also the fact that, as ref McHugh points out, cautioning a player for being repeatedly caught offside is universally considered not to be part of the established ethos of the game and to put it in simple terms, it just isn't done.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The accepted answer is No and to paraphrase IFAB soccer would not expect a caution in such situations. Anyway it cannot be delaying the restart as there is none!
Having said that one of the listed cautions for unsporting behaviour is persistent offences (no specific number or pattern of offences constitutes persistent). It does not state what the offences can be yet again it is understood that it refers to penal offences rather than including the technical offence of offside. The law was not written either for offside being used deliberately.
I had read a story a long time ago that Clive Thomas a FIFA referee in the 70 / 80s once threatened to caution a player in a game for constantly getting caught offside? He had a strict (some would say over-officious) style so it could have been a possibility and under a wordsmith view of the Laws constant offside offences by the same player could be interpreted as persistently infringing the Laws of the Game, particularly if done deliberately to frustrate the proper playing of the game. It however is universally understood that offside is not counted in PI.
As to the merits of such a tactic it does require placing a player well away from the action thereby reducing team strength plus it gives a free kick to the opponents who can launch the ball unchallenged into an attacking position.
There is probably more benefit in kicking the ball deep into the opponents half for a throw in rather than using up a player in a highly questionable position and giving up possession with a free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeremy NO! Offside require INVOLVEMENT AFTER the position is established. No involvement no offside! Plus the turn over of possession is silly if they wanted to truly use up time they dribble to corner or pass it all around.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jeremy,
Delaying the restart of play can only occur while the ball is out of play. As offside is an offence that occurs while the ball is in play, like any foul it cannot possibly contribute to delaying the restart of play (key word - RESTART).

Bear in mind that you shouldn't be calling offside until there is actually involvement in play. Sure, if the ball is going directly to a PIOP and nobody else is able to intervene that that's a case where you can justify calling it early - so if you see that they're the just leaving the ball go and it's consuming time, then wait until they've actually taken possession of the ball. Then the worst they can do is leave the ball where it is rather than have it run off the field and down the gully.

If it's the sort of field where it takes some time to retrieve the ball, then simply consider that when you're adding on stoppage time at the end of the half.

Given that this 'tactic' means the team loses possession, I don't see what advantage it's actually offering anyway - and there's nothing further for the referee to do here other than penalise the offside offences (and if they kicked the ball away after the whistle, then deal with that).

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Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

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