I have been watching the way calling offsides has changed in the last 2 years. All of the instructors assure me that waiting until the ball is touched is almost always necessary before calling offsides. I watch many matches every week. It appears to me that if the rules the local and state guys are telling are true then it appears that we call offsides differently in the USA than they do any where else in the world. Is this the case??

USSF answer (April 8, 2008):
There are only two circumstances in which it might be necessary to wait for an attacker in an offside position to physically touch the ball:

1. The ball is played directly by a teammate to this attacker and the latter makes no move whatsoever as the ball approaches him. If he moves to touch the ball, offside offense. If he doesn’t move but allows the ball to hit him, offside offense. If he continues to make no move and the ball passes him by, no offside offense. If he moves to avoid contact with the ball, no offside offense.

2. The ball is played by a teammate into space.  It is pursued by the attacker in the offside position as well as by another teammate who was not in an offside position, but the referee/AR cannot determine which one will get to the ball first except by seeing who makes the first touch. If it is touched first by the attacker in an offside position, offside offense. If it is touched first by the teammate who was not in an offside position, no offside offense. In this case, if the referee/AR can decide who will clearly get to the ball first before either actually touches the ball, make the decision then about offside offense.

Neither of these two scenarios involves any attacker in an offside position also making any movement which interferes with an opponent.

This is the same position taken by other national associations. We are not certain why you would suggest that our referees would call it any differently from the rest of the world.

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