The Approach We Take Here

We wish to take a moment and explain a bit of what we are trying to accomplish here (please also reread the statement we offered early this year which is found underneath the “About” tab).  It is important to reaffirm that neither we nor this website claims or should be thought of as “official” in any way regarding The Laws of the Game.  We will always make every effort to research and consult all official publications both at the international level and for the United States, but what we take away from these sources must always be understood as our understanding of what they mean and how they should be applied.

Everyone who has refereed beyond several seasons has to know that there are (and always have been) pockets of text in the Laws of the Game which are not “self-evident” — they require explanation based on the best and most current understanding of how they were intended.  In regard to this, the International Board did a great service in the 2017-2018 edition by adding, for the first time, to the Laws of the Game the following official statement (p. 11):

The Laws cannot deal with every possible situation, so where there is no direct provision in the Laws, The IFAB expects the referee to make a decision within the ‘spirit’ of the game – this often involves asking the question, “what would football [soccer] want/expect?”

Useful as this is, however, there are also parts of the Laws that appear to be inconsistent, incomplete, or so broadly stated as to include two or more reasonable explanations.  Some referees, for example, have been at this game long enough to remember how relatively recently it was when the Law writers decided to finally add the proviso that a sent-off player had to leave the field, could not be replaced, and could no longer play any further part in the game!  This was always true and “everyone knew it” but it wasn’t in the Law.  Or when, in 1996, the International Board dropped from the Laws of the Game one of the single most arguably important tenets in the philosophy of refereeing (how to handle doubtful or trifling breaches of the Law) with the simple explanation that “everyone should know this so it isn’t needed”!  This casual, informal connection between the formal, written word of the Law and the allegedly widespread understanding by “everyone” of what it means is uniquely British in origin — not surprising given that is where the sport originated.  Americans have a hard time with that and it is a philosophy inconsistent with the tremendously detailed rules for sports that had their origins in the United States.

As for us, however, we will attempt to faithfully answer questions and provide advice based on our experience and training and will seek always to remain as up-to-date as possible on new or alternate interpretations as we understand them.  If we make an actual mistake — and it happens, hopefully rarely  — we will correct it as quickly as possible.  If we give advice based on an interpretation that has changed, we will announce the change as quickly as possible.  If we ourselves have interpreted an apparent ambiguity in the Law and believe there is a reasonable basis to act on that interpretation (i.e., that’s what we ourselves would do on the field) but responsible authority later clearly resolves the ambiguity contrary to the way we have proceeded, we will explain the situation as quickly as possible.

More than this we cannot promise.

Watch Out for Those Hands and Arms!

David, a U13 – u19 fan, asks:

I have a question on a player constantly having their arms outstretched fully or halfway every time they challenge for a ball. Is there any infraction here? I personally don’t like to see that because it causes them to contact their opponent with their arms and hands at some point.

Answer

A rhetorical question for anyone other than an active soccer player …  do you do a lot of running that includes sudden changes in direction, starts, stops, etc?  Running on the soccer field is not like Irish clog dancing, where the arms are ceremoniously held straight down at the sides.  A soccer player needs the counter-balancing effect of arms held out (forward, backward, or to the side) at various angles from the body in order to maintain stability.

However, to your question.  There is nothing in the Laws of the Game which prohibit the arms from being held away from the body or even, more spectacularly, held straight above their head!  If and when the result of such behavior leads to contact with an opponent or the ball, then the referee uses this information as part (and only part) of deciding if an offense has been committed.

As a game moves up the competitive ladder, increasingly you will see an attacker and a marking defender running side-by-side, each with her arms (or elbows) held out jostling with the opponent.  Are there probably mutual violations occurring virtually every second?  Undoubtedly, yet at this level and assuming neither player is gaining an unfair advantage and the level of contact is merely irritating rather than painful, you will rarely hear a whistle (at most, a quiet verbal from the Referee to “watch the contact”).  Very likely, both players will finish their elbowing run and, later, brag to their teammates that “I really showed him I was serious!”  Why no whistle?  Because the violations (if they were) never rose to the level of needing to stop play.  Each player was “accepting” the level of contact as “par for the course.”

Contacting an opponent or the ball with a hand or arm is not, by itself, a violation of any Law or, even if it is, the referee has the authority to decide that the possible offense was doubtful or the actual offense was trifling.   In the case of making hand/arm contact with the ball, the Law is very clear that the action must be deliberate and involve directing the ball in a controlled fashion by moving the hand to the ball rather than having the ball simply move toward and contact the hand/arm.

In all these cases, the making of actual contact is only one factor to be taken into account in deciding if the contact was illegal, much less illegal enough to stop play — in logic, this is called a necessary but not sufficient condition.  There are only three offenses in Law 12 where actual contact is not specifically necessary as of 2016 — attempting to strike, kick, or trip are punished by an indirect free kick but actual contact involving any three of these actions makes the offense punishable by a direct free kick.

Please leave these decisions to the referee – he or she is the only one who knows the intent of the Law, the severity of the offense (if there is one), the pace of the game, the character of the players involved, and the general level of experience/skill of the players in the game.   The Referee is also the only one who has seen the event from the perspective that counts — the field rather than a sideline.

Several Ways to Mess Up a Throw-In

Stephen, a U13 – U19 fan, asks:

What is the correct restart if a player takes a throw-in incorrectly but the ball touches the ground before entering the field of play? It appears that in the past there was a clause in the interpretations to the Laws that explicitly stated that, in this situation, the throw-in was given to the other team, but that doesn’t seem to be there anymore. Could you provide evidence that shows what the correct call is? Thanks.

Answer

It’s always nice to see fans who have a desire to know, and keep up with changes in, the Laws of the Game. Unfortunately, sometimes there are complexities that only Referees (at least most of the time) are aware of even when the language seems pretty clear.  You are partially correct in your basic question.

Specifically, for many years the interpretation of Law 15 (The Throw-in) was that, if the ball hit the ground before it entered the field, it was considered not to have entered the field at all (even if it physically did).  In short, for the ball to be in play, it must enter the field of play and do so without hitting the ground outside the field.  However, that’s all it was — never properly put into play and therefore retaken by the same team (but not necessarily the same player on that team) in the same location as the original throw-in attempt.  Let’s shorten this to “legally put into play.”

On the other hand, and separate from the issue of the ball being properly put into play, Law 15 has several requirements for how (the mechanics) the ball must be put into play — both feet in the ground, at least a part of both feet either on or behind the touch line, ball thrown over the head, taken from within a yard of where the ball left the field, etc.  If a player violates any of these requirements, that can make the throw-in itself illegal even if it is properly put into play by entering the field without making contact with the ground outside the field.  If this happens, the control of the ball is given to the opposing team for a throw-in at the original location (a requirement that is often forgotten or not known, thus leading to the new throw-in frequently being taken from the wrong location … which, surprise!, makes the first retaken throw-in illegal, which leads to ….  well, you get the idea).  Let’s shorten this to “legally thrown.”

So, on a throw-in in years past, the ball can be (a) legally put into play and legally thrown, (b) legally put into play but not legally thrown, (c) not legally put into play and legally thrown, and (d) not legally put into play and not legally thrown.  In (a), the throw is entirely good and play continues but this is not the case with (b) – (d), in each of which the throw-in is not completely good and play must be restarted.  But how and by whom?

In scenario (b) — the throw-in restart is given to the opposing team.  In scenario (c) — the same team is allowed to retake the throw-in.  In scenarios (c) and (d) — the same team was allowed to retake the throw-in because the controlling factor was the correctness of the throw-in itself and it didn’t matter how it failed to legally go into play.  Now it apparently does.

The current language of Law 15 is both clear and specific — there is a difference in who gets the restart if the ball fails to go into play as a result of making contact with the ground outside the field of play and then continuing on to enter the field versus all other possible ways for the ball to have failed to legally go into play (i.e., at no time entering the field regardless of whether or when or how the ball made contact with the ground.  In the case of the “all other possible ways,” the result is the same as in scenario (c) above.  However, now, if the “not legally put into play” is caused by the ball making contact with the ground before entering the field but was legally thrown, the result is that the throw-in is taken by the original team (as in scenario (c).   However, if the ball makes contact with the ground before entering the field and was not legally thrown, the thrown-in restart goes to the opposing team (as in a revised scenario (d).

Frankly,  we are uncertain as to why there should be two versions of how a ball has not legally gone into play or why that should make a difference, but there it is.  Nevertheless, until such time as the International Board states otherwise, Referees are advised to follow the clear wording in Law 15.  Fortunately, we have rarely seen actual throw-ins in which the thrower perfectly executes the throw itself, only to have the ball bounce on the ground and then enter the field.

Speaking of good and bad throw-ins, we are going to exercise our ability to mount a soap box and rant about a related topic.  While the above discussion necessarily was wrapped up in part with illegal throw-ins, we would like to emphasize once again (as we have in prior posts about Law 15) that an illegal throw-in does not necessarily call for a whistle.  Most illegal throw-ins are harmless transgressions (another name for which is “trifling offenses“).  Purists, hardnoses, brand new referees, and the like would gasp at this heresy and that is their right.  But, for the good of the game, plus experience with skilled play,  at least admit (and maybe follow through on it at least occasionally) that pristine throw-ins are about as rare as motionless balls at a free kick because players (and hopefully referees) know that the purpose of these restarts is to get the ball back in play and to do so as quickly as possible.   Except for enforcing the location of the restart as it edges closer to the goal the thrower’s team is attacking, the significance of faults in the performance of a throw-in is vanishingly small.

Advantage in the Penalty Area

David, an adult amateur referee, asks:

Advantage in the penalty box.  Attacker receives ball in penalty box, Defender trips Attacker who stumbles but does not fall while going around Defender and gets a shot on goal which deflects off keeper past goal line.  Referee did signal advantage.  What is the correct call?

Answer

Your question is a bit ambiguous … what exactly are you wondering was “the correct call”?  If the issue is whether advantage can/should be applied to events in the penalty area, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”   If the issue is whether the Referee applied advantage correctly in the given scenario?  Again, the answer is “Yes!” but not necessary resounding because we weren’t there and can only assume that the correct criteria were used.  If the issue is whether the Referee used the proper mechanics in applying advantage in the penalty area, the answer is “no.”

Why “no”?  Because US Soccer has long indicated that what should happen is what might be called “silent advantage” so, in essence, it is a matter of preferred mechanics.  The Referee could certainly, amidst the fast moving events in a critical area of the field where seriously important events are occurring second by second, use the recognized advantage signal (swing his/her arms upward while shouting “Play on!”) but this carries the danger thereby of momentarily missing some important event and/or diverting the attention of nearby players away from their tasks.

Furthermore, the application of advantage inside the penalty area involves some fundamental differences from advantage applied elsewhere on the field.  For example, elsewhere, the Referee is looking simply for the likelihood of enabling the offended player or team to continue its attack on or toward the opponent’s end of the field — the possibility of a goal is not a major objective.  Not so for an offense committed by a defender inside the opposing team’s penalty area.  There, the Referee’s objective involves  protecting the likelihood of scoring a goal within the next play (or 2 quick ones, at most). This is understandable since not applying advantage means stopping play, followed by a penalty kick restart.  Let’s say, just for purposes of comparison, that PKs on average convert to a goal for the offended team 75% of the time, but applying advantage opens the possibility for the offended team to score a goal (which represents 100% success!).

Accordingly, we urge Referees to use “silent advantage” (i.e., stay quiet, keep the arms down) and use “wait a moment to see what happens” (good advice in many other situations as well).  The option of whistling for the offense remains if, after the offense, neither the offended attacker nor any of his/her nearby teammates are able to score in the next 1-2 plays on the ball.  Plus, the Referee can (as with any advantage anywhere) return to deal with misconduct whatever the outcome.  Note: starting in 2016, the Laws of the Game limited the misconduct options to a caution if (a) the offense involved an attempt to play the ball and (b) the outcome was a decision for a penalty kick (this includes the commission of both  OGSO and non-OGSO situations).

Kids and Misconduct

Antonio, a U13 – U19 referee, asks:

If a U12/13 player commits a dangerous tackle or a DOGSO, should I be lenient and give a yellow card or should I give a straight red and send him/her off?

Answer

This one is easy (mostly) and comes down to a simple “give the card prescribed by the Laws of the Game.”  Of the two scenarios you listed, the “dangerous tackle” is straightforward — assuming by “dangerous tackle” you mean a tackle which is more serious than careless or reckless (i.e., involves excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent), then a red card is clearly set by Law 12 (the recorded misconduct would be either “serious foul play” or “violent conduct” depending on whether the tackle was committed while challenging for the ball or not).

The only caveat here is whether the local competition authority has (as some have) forbidden the showing of cards to young players (usually limited to U-10s and below) — then you follow the Laws of the Game as modified.  It is not your decision to make.  Once you have identified the offense, you deal with it properly.  It is important to remember in all this, particularly where fouls involving physical contact are concerned, that the send-off following the display of the red card is only partially for the purpose of punishing the offender, it is also for protecting the safety of the remaining players.

As for the DOGSO, there are complicating elements to this misconduct which have been recently introduced into the Laws of the Game as of 2016 which could affect the color of the card (what follows assumes that all DOGSO requirements — i.e., the “4 Ds” — have been met).  Was the foul successful in preventing a goal and a penalty kick was awarded?  Starting in 2016 and clarified further in 2017, the Law now provides that a caution should be given for the DOGSO only if the player committing the foul was engaged in an attempt to play the ball.  In all other circumstances, the offender must be sent off.

Impeding Issues

Mario, a U-12 and under referee, asks:

This question is about the interpretation of impeding the progress of an opponent.  Let’s say player D (Defender) is shielding the ball legally, within playing distance away from player A (Attacker) inside the penalty area, parallel to the goal line but not within the goal. Before the ball is out of play, player D starts to back into player A.  At first they don’t make contact but then they do start making contact. Penalty or Indirect free kick for player A’s team?  My reaction would be to call an indirect free kick because the impeding is happening first?

Answer (see also “Apology” posted on July 5)

Your assumption is incorrect as a matter of Law.  We quote from Law 12 (2016/2017 Laws of the Game): “A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences: … impedes an opponent with contact” followed by  the statement that an indirect free kick is awarded if a player “impedes the progress of an opponent without any contact being made.”  And then the 2016/2017 Laws included the following definition on page 83: “Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the opponent’s path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction when the ball is not within playing distance of either player.”  To top it all off, the Board continued with “A player may shield the ball by taking a position between an opponent and the ball if the ball is within playing distance and the opponent is not held off with the arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.”

In short, as USSF has long taught referees, impeding means no contact (other than purely accidental contact of contact as a result of simple inertia) and, if there is contact, the IFK offense is turned into a DFK offense equivalent to holding or an illegal charge.  The International Board simplified this history in 2016 when they clearly specified the distinction between impeding-without-contact and impeding-with-contact.

So, take another look at the scenario.  Was there any element of impeding here — with or without contact?  Did anyone move into an opponent’s path?  Were both “impeder” and “impedee” not within playing distance of the ball?  By the way, take a look at the International Board’s definition of “playing distance” (page 165).

What we have here is either ordinary contact between opposing players which does not rise to the level of a foul (or, arguably, is a foul but trifling) or, if it is a foul and neither doubtful or trifling, it is a DFK foul (converted by location into a PK).  The statement “the impeding came first” is not supported by the definitions noted above.  Before there was any contact, there was no impeding; after there was contact, it didn’t become “impeding-with-contact” but, rather simple holding (or nothing or doubtful or trifling).  A verbal warning about “backing into an opponent” might be warranted but, if there is anything more than this, the Referee has no choice but to signal for a PK — that is, of course, if it was the defender backing into the attacker rather than the attacker legally charging the defender.

Simulation Misconduct

David, an adult pro fan, asks:

So, I watched Real Madrid win a 12th Champions league.  Ramos cleanly tackles Cuadrado and forces the ball out of play for a throw in.  While the ball is out of play, Cuadrado with the slightest of touches taps Ramos on the shoulder and Ramos falls down grabbing his foot (completely looks like a dive). The ref then gives Cuadrado a 2nd yellow.  My question is, could Ramos get a card for simulation whilst the ball is out of play?

Answer (see also “Apology” posted on July 5)

We are so glad you didn’t ask about whether Ramos cleanly tackled Cuadrado or whether Cuadrado’s tap on Ramos’ shoulder was “the slightest of touches” or whether Ramos’ reaction was a  “dive” because, as we say in our statement of what our objectives are in operating this website, we don’t answer questions about specific match plays and specific Referee decisions.  The only answerable question here is whether the Law allows a caution for misconduct committed during a stoppage of play.

Yes.

To expand a bit, the Law changed in  2016 to remove the Referee’s ability to show cards (yellow or red) for player behavior prior to the start of a match or after the final whistle sounds completing a match (including any post-game tiebreaking activity).  Of course, players can still commit misconduct before and after the game but, as of 2016, no cards can be shown.  The Referee is still allowed to dismiss a player for an offense otherwise warranting a red card which occurs prior to the match but doing so does not affect the team’s ability to field the maximum number of players allowed by Law 3.  And any misconduct occurring before or after a match must still be included in the match report.  However, none of this touched in the slightest the ability (indeed, the obligation) of the Referee to show any yellow or red card (or, in this case, yellow+red cards) and apply any sanctions which attach to the card for misconduct occurring at any stoppage of play occurring for any reason at all between the opening and final whistles.

KFTM – New Law Changes

Voja, an adult pro referee, asks:

During penalty kicks to determine the outcome of the match KFTM), the kicker feints illegally while taking the kick. The referee sees the infringement and cautions the player. Does the player retake the kick or does it count as a missed shot?

Answer (see also “Apology” posted on July 5)

As of the most recent Law changes (2017/2018), Law 10’s section on the taking of KFTM was modified in several ways.  One was to declare that a kicker who commits an offense between the Referee’s signal and the ball being put into play is cautioned and (here is the new part) the kick is forfeited (recorded as missed).

Note that this differentiates a KFTM with a “regular” penalty kick.  Under Law 14, an offense by the kicker or any teammate is not punished until the kick is completed and the result noted because that result (with two exceptions) determines the action to take — an indirect free kick if a goal was not scored or a retake of the penalty kick if the ball went into the net.  First, there is only the kicker to consider because, for KFTM purposes, the teammates don’t count.  Second, the result doesn’t matter because the kick is recorded as unsuccessful no matter what the outcome was.  However, for both a regular penalty kick and a KFTM, a kicker’s offense must always be cautioned (for unsporting behavior).

Although this was not part of the scenario prompting this answer, everyone would probably be better off knowing now that new text was also added this year to deal with other, similar offense scenarios.  For example, a goalkeeper who commits an offense and the kick needs to be retaken because the shot was missed or saved is cautioned, but not if the goal was scored.   If both the kicker and the goalkeeper each commit an offense at the same time and the shot was missed or saved, both are cautioned and the kick is retaken.  However, if the goal was scored then only the kicker is cautioned and the goal disallowed (recorded as missed).

Have fun figuring all this out.  We recommend strongly writing these three scenarios down, plus their consequences (card or not, score or not, goal disallowed or not), and reviewing it quickly should the officiating team be facing a KFTM procedure.

Resources on the Laws of the Game

Rob, an adult amateur referee, asks:

Good day
Where can one obtain a copy of the basic interpretations of the new changes to the Laws of the Game, from a layman point of view as we are have conflicting different opinions with regards to these among some of my colleagues. Whilst we are understanding that the interpretation differs from country to country, the principles all still remain the same.

Answer (see also “Apology” posted on July 5)

As you can appreciate (particularly after reading the “dos and don’ts” for this website at the “About” tab), we are concerned almost exclusively with the official Laws of the Game as updated annually by (now) the International Football Association Board (IFAB, or simply the Board) and implemented in matches affiliated with and/or sanctioned by US Soccer and its affiliates.  This is quite a plateful as it is without bringing in games and officiating elsewhere in the world (or even competing soccer organizations in the US).  It is not surprising that there are more countries in FIFA than there are in the United Nations.  It also means that, while we maintain associations and contacts with individuals in different parts of the world, we would be overwhelmed if we needed to know about any of them even a fraction of what we have to keep up with for this website.

So, sadly, we cannot assist you in your laudable quest to find reliable sources of information, interpretation, and good advice wherever you happen to be (our guess at the moment is Australia based on the “g’day” thing or at least a British Commonwealth country based on the “whilst” thing).  Without trying to beat our own drum, however, you and your referee mates are always free to submit any question to us here — much as you have already done and it’s so easy — and know that we will do our best to clarify and possibly resolve any differences of opinion based on our own reading of the materials available to us — not officially approved and not necessarily universally accepted (we have heard in our travels in Europe, for example, many very strange interpretations that the reporters thereof absolutely swear are common knowledge in their country).

We tell our own referees here that you should start with those who instructed you, or who provide your in-service training and refresher courses, or the local, regional, or national organizing body who pay you or who punish you for mistakes, etc.  And if you don’t understand the explanation at one level, bump it upstairs to the bigwigs.  By the way, we hear through the grapevine that the Board does not look kindly these days at national associations which attempt to produce separate publications purporting to explain the Laws of the Game as they apparently feel that their language has become so clear that there should not be any mysteries.  If that were truly the case, askasoccerreferee.com would close up tomorrow.

Choosing the Offside Violation

Brenden, an adult amateur player, asks:

A5 makes a run with the ball towards goal while his teammate A12 is also moving downfield ahead of A5.  During this phase of play up to the moment when A5 last touches/plays the ball, A12 is onside but mistimes the continuation of his run such that, when his teammate last plays the ball, A12 is in an offside position while another attacker, A18, is onside.  A12’s run draws the attention of D34 who begins to move toward A12 to cover him.  However, A5’s last play of the ball is a pass to A18 who is unmarked as a result of D34’s diversion toward A12.  Can the referee rule an infringement against the attacking side on the basis that they gained an advantage from A12’s offside position?

Answer (see also “Apology” posted on July 5)

The easy answer here is, No, because “gaining an advantage” is not technically a basis for an offside violation.  It is used only under special circumstances which involves a ball which has either”rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent” or “been deliberately saved by an opponent” (see Law 11.2, 2016/2017 Laws of the Game).  The sole purpose of this section of Law 11 is to make clear the offside position of an attacker is not changed by (1) any contact between the ball and things considered “part of the field” (inanimate such as a goalpost or animate such as the referee) or (2) the ball  rebounding/deflecting from an opponent or (3) contact by the ball with an opponent which is deemed to be a “deliberate save”).  Since there was no such intervening contact by the ball with anything inanimate or with a defender (either accidental or deliberate), the “gaining an advantage” element in Law 11 is completely irrelevant.

That leaves just three possibilities for the only attacker carrying an offside position: (1) A12 committed no offside violation at all, (2) A12 committed an offside violation by interfering with play, or (3) A12 committed an offside violation by interfering with an opponent.  Note that, once A18 makes contact with the ball from A5’s pass, all offside position decisions have to be re-evaluated, following which A5 might not be in an offside position at all.

Prior to A18’s contact with the ball, did A12 interfere with play?  No, because A12 made no contact with the ball.  Indeed, while we do not know where A12 was relative to A18, we presume they were far enough away from each other that a ball passed to A18 could not reasonably be considered even within the vicinity of A18.  No contact, no offside violation based on “interfering with play.”

Prior to A18’s contact with the ball, did A12 interfere with an opponent while in an offside position?  There are four alternative actions which could be considered “interfering with an opponent” but only the fourth one is potentially relevant: “making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.”  Remember, an action of this sort is entirely legal if performed while in an onside position.  So, did D34 begin his run before or after A2 was in an offside position … which translates into whether D34 began his move toward A12 before or after A5 passed the ball to A18?

We think there would be no reasonable dispute that A12 did not commit an offside violation if D34 began running to cover A12 before A5 passed the ball because an offside violation cannot be committed if the player in question was not even in an offside position  at the time.  Nor could there be any reasonable dispute that A12 did not commit an offside violation at the moment he came into an offside position if, at that moment, he stopped running, even if D34 continued in his effort to reach A12 to “cover him.”

If A12 continues or initiates a run downfield after A5 passes the ball to A18, we are now into a grey area of angles and distances.  The offside violation dispute would virtually disappear if A12 turned and began running back towards his end of the field or began running toward the touchline to his right (away from the direction of play), even if D34 followed him.  It would be difficult to argue under these circumstances that D34’s “ability … to play the ball” was being impacted since he was running away from the ball (indeed, to make matters more apparent, he would be pursuing an attacker, A12, who didn’t need “covering” while running away from A18 who did need covering!).  In many referee circles, if A12 began running as described, this would be interpreted as a clear body language statement that A12 did not wish to be involved in active play.

Where light grey starts becoming dark grey is if, at the moment A12 acquired an offside position, he continued or initiated his run downfield but not toward where the ball was being passed from A5 to A18 and this behavior arguably “drew” D34 away from moving to cover A18 by enticing him to begin running toward A12.  We believe this situation was of D34’s own making.  It was not an action by A12 which impacted on D34’s ability to play the ball — that was created by D34 running away from the ball (indeed, away from the entire area of active play) to pursue the chimera of A12 possibly receiving the ball and having a referee unable to decide correctly that, if that happened, it would be an offside violation.

To finish off what is already a lengthy but we hope stimulating discussion, there are the changes to Law 11 made this year (in the 2017/2018 edition of the Laws of the Game) which we believe both clarified and solidified the conclusion we have reached that A12 has not committed an offside violation.  The International Board added a proviso that, if an attacker in an offside position were fouled “before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball,” the foul itself would be penalized “as it has occurred before the offside offense” {we’ve Americanized the Board’s spelling).  This seems to us to be a very compelling reason to argue that an offside offense has not yet occurred while running to the ball or the ball is running to the attacker or the attacker is not challenging for the ball,