OFFIDE?

Question:
During an actual international friendly match at an overseas location, Team A is down by one goal. Player A1 on his own half of the field, takes a long kick which travels long towards the goalkeeper of team D. At the time of the kick, forward player A2 is on off-side position 5 yards passed midfield. Player A2 makes an attempt to run for the ball, but abandons his attempt after taking 2 or 3 steps towards the ball realizing he has no chance of reaching it. Assistant Referee One (AR1) decides not to raise his flag since the ball quickly traveled all the way down the field inside the Penalty area of goalkeeper D. AR1 quickly sprints towards the goalkeeper’s position following the ball. The goalkeeper controls the ball with his feet and starts dribbling it around the Penalty area, but never picks up or touches the ball with his hands. Approximately, 10 seconds later, forward player A2 realizing the goalkeeper D is attempting to consume time, starts running towards goalkeeper D. Player A2 reaches the Penalty area and is able to steal the ball from goalkeeper D. Player A2 scores a goal.

The Center referee (REF) and AR1 signal for a goal.  Team D complains and calls for an Off-side.
Game is resumed with a kick off and ends 15 minutes later.

Was AR1 wrong by not raising his flag for the off-side when it initially took place?
When is an off-side considered over and a new play started, if the game is never stopped for any reason by the referee?
Was AR1 supposed to raise his flag as soon as he realized player A2 is running towards goalkeeper D, 10 seconds later?.
Were the REF and AR1 correct by allowing the goal?
Does the Spirit of the Game, and Spirit of the Law have any weight in this scenario?.

This scenario has created a lot of controversy at the overseas location where I officiate.

USSF answer (July 1, 2008):
This following answer applies to games played in the United States. We cannot be responsible for what might be permitted in “the overseas location” where you officiate.

A player’s 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 — which is not applicable in this scenario.

The result of this 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.

If the goalkeeper has clearly established possession and control of the ball, as suggested in your scenario, then player A2 is now relieved of his offside position and may play the ball.

To answer your questions as they occur: AR1 was correct. We have shown how A2 is no longer offside if he stopped his initial play for the ball and then waited the ten seconds to begin running after the ball now clearly in the goalkeeper’s possession and control. No, the AR was not supposed to raise the flag in this case. Yes, the referee was correct in allowing the goal — the AR has no say there. The Spirit of the Laws and of the Game were not injured here.…

DEALING WITH A PLAYER WHO “MIGHT” BE INJURED

Question:
The various scenarios about the Holland-Italy goal put forth on “Referee Week in Review” are very thorough and I hope every referee is aware of each of them. However I do have some questions on Scenario 5. It addresses the hypothetical that “the Italian defender is clearly injured and off the field of play,” and states:

“The referee makes a decision that the defender is seriously injured and cannot return to play by himself. Once the referee has acknowledged the seriousness of the injury, the player may not participate in the play and must not be considered to be in active play (at this point, he would not be considered in determining offside position and should not be considered in the equation as either the first or second last opponent). For purposes of Law 11, the defender is considered to be on the goal line for calculating offside position.

This player, however, may not return to play without the referee’s permission. Remember, the referee is instructed in Law 5 to stop the game only for serious injury.”

Under this scenario, the referee must “acknowledge the seriousness of the injury” and, once this is done, the player cannot participate in the play nor return to play without the referee’s permission. My question is how, in a situation as we had in Holland-Italy, the referee could inform the downed player or anyone else that this player no longer counted for any offside determination and also could not re-enter the field. If play continued upfield, the referee could not possibly get near enough to the downed player to issue any instructions and, even if he could, most players on the field likely would be unaware of the exact situation. How would the attackers know where to line up to stay onside? How would the downed defender, if he got up and was able to continue play, know that he was not allowed to re-enter the field?

Any clarification of what to do in this situation – both for the U15-18 level and for higher level games – would be much appreciated.

My instinct would be to either count the downed player or else decide his injury is severe enough to stop play.

USSF answer (June 23 2008):
In the case under discussion, the goal was scored within three seconds of Panucci leaving the field after being pushed by his teammate, Buffon. That was not enough time for the referee to make any determination as to whether or not an injury existed, much less to judge its seriousness.

Soccer is a contact sport. The referee is required to stop play if, in his or her opinion, a player is seriously injured. He or she does not stop play for a slight injury. Remember that referees will rarely stop play within three seconds. If it’s clearly a severe injury, such as to the head, then yes, there should be an immediate stoppage. However, referees will usually take more than three seconds to make a judgment on the extent of a player’s injury. Panucci was at most slightly injured, if at all. He got up after the goal and did not need any treatment. In addition, it makes little difference whether he fell on or off the field of play. He could have fallen in the goal area. He had been part of the defense and still was part of play, part of the move, part of the game, when the goal was scored.…

DEFENDER HEADS THE BALL TO PLAYER IN OFFSIDE POSITION

Question:
Several referees were discussing a general offside situation where a ball is headed backward by a defender. For example assume A1 sends a high diagonal ball towards the 18 yard line. D1 heads it only to have it go backwards to an attacker behind him in an offside position.

These refs believe that, because the act of heading the ball is a “deliberate act, not a deflection”, that it will automatically reset the offside situation, regardless of where the ball ends up. Thus the attacker who ends up with the ball behind the defender is not offside, regardless of whether it was the defender’s intent to play the ball backward and regardless of whether the header was controlled or if it simply skimmed of the very top of his head.

While I realize the final judgement is always itootr, I think that most of the time when a defender heads a ball backwards to an attacker, giving the attacker a good scoring opportunity, that this is not a controlled play but rather the equivalent of a mis-hit kick.

In that case, if my judgement is that the ball was mis-hit by the defender and hence accidentally went backwards, I don’t believe it would reset the offside situation.

Could you please clarify this situation. Thanks.

USSF answer (June 18, 2008):
Looking solely at your direct question, the fact that the act of heading the ball is “deliberate” has no bearing on the matter. If the opponent (D1) did not establish full control of the ball originally played by A1 toward his/her teammate, then the heading of the ball is a deflection or touch, not possession or control. Therefore, the attacker in the offside position to whom the ball was headed by D1 is offside if he becomes actively involved in play.

There are, however, other aspects to be considered. The defender could be deliberately heading the ball back (say, to his keeper so that the keeper could handle it) and not know that there was an attacker back there also. In such a case, it is a deliberate play and the attacker should not be punished for the defender’s error by being called for offside if he then gathers the ball and attacks the goal.

A defender might also deliberately play (possess and control) the ball by heading it but misdirect the ball so that it goes to this attacker … and again the attacker should not be called for offside.

Why should a defender gain the benefit of an offside call against this attacker simply because the defender didn’t play the ball accurately or well — he still played it. Deflections, ricochets, bounces, and the like would not of course constitute a play.

In closing, we need to remember that officials, whether referees or assistant referees, should not defend for the defenders.…

OFFSIDE: DEFENDER OFF THE FIELD

Offside: Defender Off the Field
By now, many of you have seen and/or heard about the controversial goal in the Holland vs. Italy match in Euro 2008 this past week. Despite its controversy, the referee team was correct in allowing the goal and in their interpretation of Law 11, Offside. Below, we will review the decision and explain why many announcers were doing the game a disservice by providing incorrect information to the fans.
• The Situation
During a free kick by the Dutch team, the Italian goalkeeper pushes his own defender out of the way and off the field, where the defender and a Dutch attacker are both down. The Dutch attacker rises quickly and returns to the field. The Italian defender remains off the field. The ball is played away from the goal and is kicked back to a Dutch player who has the Italian goalkeeper between himself and the goal line and the Italian defender lying on the ground outside the field.  The ball is crossed and redirected into the goal by the attacker.
Video Clip 5:  Holland vs. Italy (25:17)
Review the video clip and ensure you clearly see the situation as it develops. At the end of the clip, there is a better graphical display of the position of the players. Then, ask yourself the question that follows below.
• The Question
Should the Dutch attacker who scored the goal have been called offside? He had only one opponent between himself and the goal line. There was an opponent lying on the ground just across the goal line.
• Clarification
If a defending player deliberately steps behind his own goal line in order to place an opponent in an offside position, the referee shall allow play to continue and caution the defender for deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission when the ball is next out of play. That did not happen in this situation.
However, in this case the defender left the field of play as a result of being pushed aside by his goalkeeper. Players in either of these situations – whether they left the field during the course of play or stepped off to place an opponent in an offside position – are considered to be part of the game and thus accountable when determining offside position by their opponents. The only difference is how these players would be treated from a disciplinary point of view (no yellow card was warranted in this case).
• Summary
There were two Italian defenders to be calculated into the equation, the goalkeeper and the player on the ground just outside the goal line. The referee’s interpretation that the player off the field of play was still involved in the game was correct.
If this interpretation did not exist, then defending players would use the tactic of deliberately stepping off the field of play to put their opponents in an offside position and that is both unacceptable and counter to the Spirit of the Laws of the Game. Unless a player has the permission of the referee to be off the field (in the case of an injury), they are considered to be on it, involved in active play, and deemed to be part of the game.
The Law was applied correctly and the Dutch attacker was not in an offside position when his teammate passed the ball. Hence, the referee was correct in allowing the goal to be scored.
The situation above raises many related questions regarding offside and defending players leaving the field. The following examines a few of these common questions and scenarios.
• Different Scenarios
1. The Italian defender left the field deliberately to place the Dutch attacker in an offside position
Play would continue and the defender would be cautioned at the next stoppage of play for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission.
Video Clip 6:  Colorado at Kansas City – 2001
This video clip provides a visual example of scenario 1 above in which a defender deliberately attempts to leave the field of play to place an opponent in an offside position. In this case, the defender would not be cautioned because he is not all the way off the field at the time the ball is played by the attacker. If he were fully off the field at the time of the initial shot/pass to goal, the referee would be required to caution the defender for leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission. For further explanation of the events in this clip, referee to U.S. Soccer’s August 23, 2001 position paper entitled, “Offside and Misconduct by a Defender.” < (Click on the link to access the paper) 2. The Dutch attacker pushed the Italian defender thereby forcing him off the field of play
Play would be stopped for the foul committed by the Dutch attacker against the Italian defender.  The restart would be a direct free kick for the defending team from the place of the infringement, keeping in mind the special circumstances involving offenses within the goal area.
3. While off the field of play, the Dutch attacker, as he was getting up after having fallen, held down the Italian defender
Play would be stopped; the Dutch attacker would be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the game would be restarted with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.
4. While off the field of play, the Italian defender held down the Dutch attacker
The referee would invoke the advantage and play would continue. At the next stoppage the referee would caution the Italian attacker for unsporting behavior.
5. The Italian defender is clearly injured and off the field of play
The referee makes a decision that the defender is seriously injured and cannot return to play by himself. Once the referee has acknowledged the seriousness of the injury, the player may not participate in the play and must not be considered to be in active play (at this point, he would not be considered in determining offside position and should not be considered in the equation as either the first or second last opponent). For purposes of Law 11, the defender is considered to be on the goal line for calculating offside position. This player, however, may not return to play without the referee’s permission. Remember, the referee is instructed in Law 5 to stop the game only for serious injury.
• Other References
U.S. Soccer has published “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” Within this publication, refer to sections: 11.8, 11.9, 11.10, and 11.11.

The entire item, including URLs for the two video clips, can be found at http://www.ussoccer-data.com/docfile/LessonsLearnedWeek_11_2008.htm…

GOAL IN NETHERLANDS-ITALY EURO CUP PERFECTLY VALID

Question:
I was watching the Euro Cup 2008 qualifier between Italy and The Netherlands. The first goal generated some controversy.

During a free kick, the keeper pushed a defender beyond the goal line. The Dutch recovered the deflected ball and put it back into the box to where Van Nistlerooy directs the ball into the goal. Based on the players on the field, he was clearly in an offside position but the flag was not raised.

My question is whether or not the defensive player that was on the ground beyond the goal line should have been counted as the last defender, meaning the attacking player was not offside, even though he was not within the boundaries of the field? Or is the fact that he did not come back into play prior to the goal means that he is not an active player and the call should have been that the attacking player was offside?

USSF answer (June 10, 2008):
You seem to have a grasp on the problem, which is actually not a problem at all — no matter what the TV announcers may have suggested.

This information in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” should give you all the additional information you need:

11.11 DEFENDER LEGALLY OFF THE FIELD OF PLAY
A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.

ADDENDUM
This release from UEFA arrived after our answer was published:

UEFA has emphasised that the goal scored by Netherlands striker Ruud van Nistelrooy in last night’s UEFA EURO 2008˙ match against Italy in Berne was valid, and that referee Peter Fröjdfeldt acted correctly in awarding the goal.

Not offside
UEFA General Secretary David Taylor was reacting to claims from some quarters that Van Nistelrooy was standing in an offside position when he scored the first of the Netherlands ‘ goals in their 3-0 win. “I would like to take the opportunity to explain and emphasise that the goal was correctly awarded by the referee team,” he said. “I think there’s a lack of understanding among the general football public, and I think it’s understandable because this was an unusual situation. The player was not offside, because, in addition to the Italian goalkeeper, there was another Italian player in front of the goalscorer. Even though that other Italian player at the time had actually fallen off the pitch, his position was still relevant for the purposes of the offside law.”

Still involved
The starting point, said Mr Taylor, is the Laws of the Game ˆ Law 11 ˆ which deals with offside, and whereby a player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goalline than both the ball and the second last opponent. “There need to be two defenders involved,” the UEFA General Secretary said. “If you think back to the situation, the first is the goalkeeper, and the second is the defender who, because of his momentum, actually had left the field of play. But this defender was still deemed to be part of the game. Therefore he is taken into consideration as one of the last two opponents. As a result, Ruud Van Nistelrooy was not nearer to the opponents’ goal than the second last defender and, therefore, could not be in an offside position.

Rare incident
“This is a widely-known interpretation of the offside law amongst referees that is not generally known by the wider football public,” he continued. “Incidents like this are very unusual ˆ although I’m informed that there was an incident like this about a month ago in a Swiss Super League match between FC Sion and FC Basel 1893. [It was] initially suggested that this [goal] was a mistake by the referee in terms of the offside law ˆ the commentator later apologised publicly, as he didn’t realise that this was the correct application of the law. ”

Law applied
Mr Taylor concluded: “So let’s be clear ˆ the referees’ team applied the law in the correct manner.

If we did not have this interpretation of the player being off the pitch, then what could happen is that the defending team could use the tactic of stepping off the pitch deliberately to play players offside, and that clearly is unacceptable. The most simple and practical interpretation of the law in this instance is the one that is adopted by referees throughout the world ˆ that is that unless you have permission from the referee to be off the pitch, you are deemed to be on it and deemed to be part of the game. That is why the Italian defender, even though his momentum had taken him off the pitch, was still deemed to be part of the game, and therefore the attacking player put the ball into the net, and it was a valid goal. The law in this place was applied absolutely correctly.”

PERSISTENT INFRINGEMENT AND OFFSIDE?

Question:
On Sunday I watched the FC Dallas vs. Denver Rapids where one forward got called offsides 5 times. I read online where someone was calling for a yellow for “persistent infringement of offsides”. I have never heard of this and I can’t find anywhere that I could justify a yellow for persistent infringement for being offsides.

I also would have to ask myself if I thought this yellow would help the game.

Please let me know if a yellow can be given here?

USSF answer (June 4, 2008):
It is perfectly legal to be in an offside position. The person who posted the suggestion you saw online is probably the person who asked us the very same question almost five years ago about high school soccer, to which we replied on October 23, 2003:
No, there is no such rule in soccer, whether at the high school level or in the . . . worldwide game of soccer. . . . Persistent infringement applies to any and all infringements of Law 12 and to some infringements of Law 14.…

SOME OFFSIDE HISTORY

Question:
What year did the IFAB change Law 11 whereas a deflection off a defender no longer put (or played) an attacker, standing in an offside position, onside?
This mis-application of Law 11 continues to this day and I want to know when the law was changed, for reference purposes as I will keep a copy of your response with me in order to enlighten those who continue “not to get it.”
Thank you.

USSF answer (April 16, 2008):
The change was made in the Laws of the Game for 1978-1979.

Prior to 1978, Law 11 read:

A player is offside if he is nearer his opponents’ goal line than the ball at the moment the ball is played unless:
(a) He is in his own half of the field of play,
(b) There are two of his opponents nearer to their own goal-line than he is.
(c) The ball last touched an opponent or was last played by him.
(d) He receives the ball direct from a goal kick, a corner kick, a throw-in, or when it was dropped by the referee.

Punishment: For an infringement of this Law, an indirect free kick shall be taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred.
A player in the offside position shall not be penalized unless, in the opinion of the referee, he is interfering with the play or with an opponent, or is seeking to gain an advantage by being in an offside position.

As of 1978-1979, the Law read:

(1) A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than the ball, unless:
(a) he is in his own half of the field of play, or
(b) there are at least two of his opponents nearer to their own goal line than he is.

(2) A player shall only be declared offside and penalized for being in an off-side position if, at the moment the ball touches, or is played by, one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee
(a) interfering with play or with an opponent, or
(b) seeking to gain an advantage by being in that position.

(3) A player shall not be declared offside by the referee
(a) merely because of his being in an offside position, or
(b) if he receives the ball, direct, from a goal kick, a corner kick, a throw-in, or when it has been dropped by the referee.

(4) If a player is declared off-side, the referee shall award an indirect free kick, which shall be taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred. unless the offense is committed by a player in his opponents’ goal area, in which case, the free kick shall be taken from any point within that half of the goal area in which the offense occurred.

The following notes were supplied for proper interpretation of the changes in the Law:

The FIFA Referees’ Committee, in making this proposition, felt that the new wording is an improvement on the previous text. You will note that any reference to the ball last touching an opponent, or last being played by him, has been omitted from the new text.

The improvement brought about by the new wording clarifies the situation in that a player remains offside when the ball is played by a member of his own team even if the ball strikes an opponent in flight. The only factors determining whether a player is given offside are whether or not he is in an offside position at the moment the ball is touched or played by a member of his own team AND is seeking to gain an advantage or interfering with play by an opponent. The fact that the ball later strikes an opponent does not negate the original offside.

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is touched or played by a member of his own team cannot be given offside if he is not, in the opinion of the referee, seeking to gain an advantage or interfering with play or an opponent, even though the ball might strike an opponent in flight.

OFFSIDE ON A DIRECT KICK?

Question:
I need some advice on a U10 girls game I was refereeing yesterday.

There was a direct free kick for White just outside Blue˙s penalty area. Blue setup for the kick without a wall and with just the goalkeeper inside the penalty box. There were two White players closer to the goal than the ball but not behind the Blue Goalkeeper.

If I understand Rule 11 correctly, when the ball is kicked by White, if neither White player touches the ball or is involved in the play there is no offside penalty called. If either White player touch the ball or are involved in the play there would be an offside penalty called. If the ball bounces off the Blue goalkeeper and either White player touch the ball an offside penalty would be called.

First, please let me know if I am interpreting Rule 11 correctly.

Second, would an Indirect Free Kick be judged any differently?

Third, is it valid for Blue to set up this way forcing White to stand behind the second to last player?

USSF answer (April 14, 2008):
You are correct. It is perfectly legal for players to be in the offside position, even when their teammates play the ball, as long as they do not become actively involved in the play by interfering with an opponent, interfering with play, or gaining an advantage because of their position. If they do become actively involved, then they may be judged to be offside.

Offside may occur at any free kick, whether direct or indirect. And the intelligent referee will remember that interfering with play is not limited to touching the ball. Too many referees seem to become wound up with the “got-to-touch-the-ball” idea.…

CALLING OFFSIDE

Question:
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.…

OFFSIDE AND THE HALFWAY LINE

Question:
Law 1 states that “the field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line”.

Law 11 states that a player is not offside if “he is in his own half of the field of play”.

I assume that I was correct when I flagged two players this past year for having a foot on the halfway line (but not over), since the player (technically) was not in his/her half of the field. However, some seasoned refs told me that having a foot on the half way line should not result in being called offside when that player received a pass.

Help!

USSF answer (April 3, 2008):
Technically, if any part of a player that can legally play the ball is past the midfield line, they are in the opponents’ end of the field and could be in an offside position — depending on the positioning of the opposing players.  That counts head, feet and any other part of the player that can legally play the ball — but certainly not the hands. If the referee finds that this player is in an offside position and becomes actively involved in play from that position after a teammate plays the ball in his or her direction, then he or she should be declared offside.…