I had a situation last weekend in a local Div. 1 men’s league game. An attacker, in the offside position was fouled by a defender before he was ruled as “offside” by my AR. At the moment of the foul I blew the whistle and indicated an offside offense had occurred. Naturally, the attacking team was unhappy that their player had been fouled and the defensive team received the free kick. Does being fouled while in an offside position indicate “involvement” in the play?

USSF answer (November 15, 2011):
We are confused. The problem in answering is that so much depends on whether you or any referee realize(s) that the description of the sequence of events controls the answer..

In the scenario as described, the attacker in the offside position was fouled “before he was ruled offside by my AR,” but does that mean the AR didn’t see any touch of the ball until after the foul occurred? If so, then the foul clearly occurred first, It takes precedence, it determines the restart, and there was no offside offense because the attacker’s touch of the ball (“interfere with play” happened after play was stopped. If the description means that the AR was about to raise the flag for an offside offense that hadn’t happened yet (because the attacker hadn’t yet interfered with play) — an all too likely possibility — then again the result should be that there was no offside offense and only the foul is relevant here.

The only way we can see the offside being called and taking precedence over whatever the defender did is if the ball was passed to the attacker, the attacker made contact with the ball (interfered with play and hence committed an offside violation), and THEN was “fouled” by the defender; but of course it wasn’t really a foul because play stopped with the offside offense (if the referee accepts the AR’s flag) and so the defender can, at most, only be punished for misconduct.…