While an offensive player is in the offside position a defensive player attempts to clear the ball and kicks a low line drive about 15 yards and deflects off the leg of an offensive player to the offside player who scores.
The offensive player from whom the ball deflects does not play the ball, makes no attempt to play the ball and had no opportunity to play the ball. He was just unlucky that the ball hit him.
Rule 11 says that simply touching the ball is sufficient:
“Committing an Offside Offence A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:”
I’ve been told by [a senior-level] ref that a deflection by an offensive player is not offside. But Rule 11 says “touches or played.” It seems to me that if the rule only said “played” then an offensive unintentional deflection would not be offside. But the Rule 11 has the words, “touches or played.” So shouldn’t the offensive deflection to a player in the offside position warrant the offside call since the offensive player last “touched” the ball?
USSF answer (May 27, 2010):
The senior-level referee has his facts wrong. If the ball is played by a defending player and it bounces off one opposing player to another of his opponents who is in an offside position, that player in the offside position is offside because he or she was interfering with play. You will find this information in the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees 2009/2010, under Law 11.