To all football associations, confederations and FIFA
Circular no. 3
Zurich, 17 July 2015 SEC/2015-C051/bru
Dear Sir or Madam,
Following requests from a number of football associations and confederations regarding offside, The IFAB would like to provide additional clarification and/or guidance relating to the definition of the offside offence of ‘interfering with an opponent’ and also to the definition of ‘save’ in the context of offside (Laws of the Game, p. 110).
This clarification follows detailed deliberations between our Technical Sub-Committee and the Technical Advisory Panel, which consists of refereeing experts from all the confederations.
Please be informed that this clarification replaces any non-IFAB instructions or guidance received previously with respect to this matter. We trust that this clarification will ensure a higher uniformity in the application of Law 11.
1. “Interfering with an opponent”
In addition to the situations already outlined in the Laws of the Game, a player in an offside position shall also be penalised if he:
• clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an
opponent or
• makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

• ‘clearly attempts’ – this wording is designed to prevent a player who runs towards the ball from quite a long distance being penalised (unless he gets close to the ball).
• ‘close’ is important so that a player is not penalised when the ball goes clearly over his head or clearly in front of him.
• ‘impact’ applies to an opponent’s ability (or potential) to play the ball and will include situations where an opponent’s movement to play the ball is delayed, hindered or prevented by the offside player.

However, just because a player is an offside position it does not always mean that he has an impact. For example:
• if the ball is on the right-hand side of the field and an ‘offside’ player in the centre of the field moves into a new attacking position he is not penalised unless this action affects an opponent’s ability to play the ball • where a player tries to play the ball as it is going into the goal without affecting an opponent, or in situations where there is no opposition player near, he should not be penalised

2. “Save”
Law 11 outlines situations when an offside player is penalised by becoming involved in active play and these include (p. 110):
• “gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball i. that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position ii. that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.

As indicated in the last sentence a ‘save’ can be made by any player and is not limited to the goalkeeper. Therefore, The IFAB wishes to clarify that: A ‘save’ is when a player stops a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of his body except his hands (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).

NB: This clarification is consistent with the use of the word ‘save’ in Law 12 – Offences by the Goalkeeper (p. 122).

Additional information: change of FIFA Quality Program logos Unrelated to Law 11, we would like to take this opportunity to mention the change to the FIFA quality marks on footballs (p. 16), which was not part of the previous correspondence. This change is already reflected in the printed editions of the Laws of the Game 2015/16, which you received recently.

Thank you for your attention and please feel free to contact us should you have any questions or enquiries.

Yours sincerely,
On behalf of the Board of Directors
Lukas Brud Secretary…


I am 58 years old, still play twice a week and have refereed and coached at all levels thru high school and never even considered this issue before this past weekend.

What is the intent of Law 11 specifically that there is no off sides on a goal kick?

The situation – Team A takes a goal kick and Team A player(s) are 10 yds closer to Team B’s goal prior to the kick than the last Team B defenders who are at midfield when the ball is kicked. If Law 11 is taken literally in this instance, that there is no off sides for Goal kicks, it seems contradictory to the other off sides criteria to allow the Team A player to be on side. I understand and agree completely with throw-ins and corner kicks.

Or is the intent that Team B players cannot be off sides when they are just outside the Team A penalty area when Team A goal keeper takes the goal kick and Team A defenders are closer to mid field than Team B player(s). Which makes sense since the Team B player(s) are no closer to the goal than the ball when it is put into play.

USSF answer (March 22, 2012):
The Laws of the Game are not made by FIFA, but by the IFAB (International Football Association Board), of which FIFA is a member.

The IFAB has long held that the game needs more scoring. Referees are encouraged to give every chance to the attacking team, particularly whenever there is any doubt. This rule applies to offside and to possible fouls and misconduct. Indeed, the IFAB so much wants the attacking game to be encouraged that it has excluded players from being called offside DIRECTLY from a goal kick for over 130 years. Goal kicks became exempt from offside in 1866 – long before FIFA existed. The intent was possibly to keep the defending team honest. Who are we to argue?…


I recently noticed while watching an MLS match that the referee used a can of white spray paint to mark off ten yards after awarding a free kick. I had noticed the paint can on referees’ uniforms all season, but only after seeing it in use did I realize what it was. Is this a new practice? And is this something that can be utilized by officials in lower level matches?

USSF answer (June 27, 2011):
The International F. A. Board decided at its meeting in March 2011 to allow the use of the vanishing spray paint as a continuing experiment in CONMEBOL (South America), where the proposal originated…


“An attacker in an offside position whose gestures or movements, in the opinion of the officiating team, cause an opponent to challenge for the ball has interfered with an opponent and should be ruled offside whether the attacker touches the ball or not.”

Just what gesture does a attacking player have to do? I have never seen this explained anywhere. No examples. Does the attacker really need to gesture or move?

Generally, in all the soccer I watch, if a pass is made to an attacker they do not need to do any special to get a defender to run over to them. This seems to say that if an attacker does not gesture or move there is no offside offense.

What if the only reason the offside attacker did not receive the ball is if the defender make a deflection or cleared the ball out of bounds as a defensive play on the attacker (who did not gesture or move)?

Does the defender really have to guess whether they should clear a ball based on the gesture or movement of the attacker?

Should the attacking team benefit by receiving a throw or corner from a play made against an offside attacker?

Is the referee right? No flag?

USSF answer (April 11, 2011):
Your introductory paragraph is taken from a position paper issued by U. S. Soccer on August 24, 2005, explaining a Circular issued by the International Football Association Board, the body that makes the rules we play by, the Laws of the Game. (No, it is not FIFA that does this, although FIFA is a powerful member of the IFAB.)

However, that document does not provide the full information you need. A later memorandum of March 25, 2009, should fill the gap:

Subject: Offside – Interfering with Play

Date: March 25, 2009

The first goal scored in the new MLS season (New York Red Bulls at Seattle Sounders, March 19, see accompanying clip) was the subject of controversy based on the argument that a teammate of the scorer was in an offside position at the time and had become involved in active play by interfering with play. The goal was from Sounder #17 (Montero) against the Red Bull goalkeeper #1 (Cepero) and the Sounder forward alleged to have been offside was #23 (Nyassi).

The following facts are not in dispute:
• Nyassi was in an offside position.
• Nyassi did not become involved in active play by gaining an advantage (historically, this is only an issue if the ball has rebounded from the crossbar, a goalpost, or a defender, which it did not in this case).
• Nyassi did not interfere with an opponent. He did not get in the way of a defender, make any movement or gesture which deceived or distracted an opponent, and, most importantly, did not block the goalkeeper’s line of sight (the attack came in from the goalkeeper’s left whereas the attacker ran from the goalkeeper’s right and was at least several yards away from the goalkeeper when the shot on goal was made).
• Nyassi did not interfere with play (no contact with the ball).

The assistant referee was well placed, in line with the second to last defender, to confirm these essential elements in deciding for an offside violation.  Accordingly, there was no offside violation and the goal was valid.

• The debate has been vigorous over the last several years regarding the way in which an attacker in an offside position can be involved in active play. The definition provided by the International Board regarding “gaining an advantage” is clear and based on concrete observable facts. The definition of “interfering with an opponent” involves various judgments but is generally clear in its application since the primary issue here is whether the interference results from blocking paths and/or lines of sight.

This memorandum confirms that “interfering with play” cannot be decided unless the attacker in an offside position makes contact with the ball.

In brief, blocking the line of sight or an opponent’s path while in an offside position comes under the heading of “interfering with an opponent” but the third element (distract/deceive) does take movement – i.e., merely standing there, in a particular place, is not enough (unless that “there” blocks sight/path), the attacker must do something, but that “something” has to be “in the opinion of the referee.”…