I am a grade 8 assistant referee with two grade 7 referees, one as the other assistant and the other a center. In the pregame I was given two main instructions, “wait on offside calls, and call what you see,” from the center. I have two questions in regards to this game.

A player from Team A attempts to deliver a ball to a teammate in an offside position around midfield on the far side of the field. A player from team B intercepts it, the player in the offside position begins to approach the player now in possession of the ball and is promptly within 2 yards of the player, and the player in possession wiffs the ball out. This happened within about one second. I kept my flag down, thinking it wasn’t an offense itself to be in an offside position and it isn’t an excuse for the player to wiff the ball out.

The coach disagreed, and so did the center at halftime. Who is right?

My second question is referring to call at the end of the second half.

The center is at the top corner of the 18-yard box about 15 yards away from me. There was, in my opinion, a foul against the defending team and when I looked at the center he might have had his back turned to the play. (Afterwards he said he saw it in the corner of his eye but let it go because it was the end of the half.) I signaled a foul, the flag in the hand in which the direction was going, and the referee blew the whistle. The center seemed to regret the decision, placed the ball at the spot of the called foul, then blew the whistle as the end of the game (by my watch exactly 1 second after full time) instead of letting the attacking team have a chance for the goal. The other AR said that was a bad call on my part, that it was solely the center’s. I said that I saw a foul, I had a reasonable belief that the center couldn’t have seen it because of his position, and if the the center did see it he could have waved off my flag if he didn’t think it was a foul. In my opinion a AR never makes a call, every call is the center’s.

Do you think my call was correct, or at least, close to call?

USSF answer (May 12, 2010):
Please, please, please! Coaches are not entitled to provide input on any decision made by a referee or an assistant referee.

Question 1:
If it is clear that the player from team B has possession of the ball, then there is no offside. This excerpt from the Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game (2009/2010) may be helpful.

The possibility of penalizing a player for being in an offside position must be reevaluated whenever:
1. The ball is again touched or played by a teammate,
2. The ball is played (possessed and controlled, not simply deflected) by an opponent, including the opposing goalkeeper, or
3. The ball goes out of play.

The result of such a reevaluation, of course, may be that the player remains in an offside position based on still being beyond the second-to-last defender, the ball, and the midfield line. Referees must remember that a player cannot simply run to an onside position and become involved in play. The player’s position with relation to the ball and the opponents must change in accordance with the Law.

In the case of the ball leaving the field in favor of the team whose player was in an offside position and actively involved in play (e. g., a corner kick or throw-in for the attackers), it is traditional to call the original offside offense. If the restart would be in favor of the opposing team (e. g., a goal kick or throw-in for the defenders), it is usually preferable to ignore the offside infringement, as the defending team’s restart gives them the possession under circumstances not much different than the indirect free kick for offside-and often with less controversy.

Most likely no offside in this case.

Question 2:
Referees must sometimes act on the advice of the referee when they might otherwise not do so. The rule is that the AR flags for an infringement only if positive that it occurred out of the sight of the referee. From your description of the incident, it does seem that you were correct to flag. The problem appears to us to be that the referee REACTED to your flag and then regretted it (for whatever reason — maybe he did indeed see it out of the corner of his eye or — and here is something for you to think about, as only you can know — perhaps you had previously flagged for offenses that the referee HAD seen and wouldn’t have stopped play for. This might have made him have second thoughts afterwards.

If we are wrong, then please accept our apologies.

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