A very interesting answer on Aug 20 re offside off the field of play.

I wondered at the wording IFAB put into the ILGGR this year to cover the ITA-NED game in 2008. (To cover something that IFAB thought “everybody knew”, but evidently was only found in documentation from USSF and the Austrian FA.) Specifically, that the player would be considered to be off the field until the next stoppage of play.

Would the Aug 20 answer change any if the defender who went over the touchline off the field went *closer* to his goal line? He could thereby entice an attacking player to go closer to the goal into an offside position (which remains at the fixed point of his departure).

There has been a question on AR mechanics – does he stay in position at the departure point? I suspect yes. But then another question if the defender is on the far side of the field from the AR, how does the AR know that the defender left the field? Also, how far “off” is “off”? – is it like other offside positions, that the arms and hands don’t count, but head torso and legs do, so if the toe is still on the line the defender is still on the field?

I guess all the above really isn’t a question per se, but I do have one question though; neither the Law Change memo nor the Aug 20 answer specifically states. Is it presumed that the defender who goes off the field stays off the field until the next stoppage? And if so and he returns, what happens then.

USSF answer (August 21, 2009):
The sense of the IFAB’s new wording in the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidance for Referees (ILGGR) is that, for offside purposes, the player shall be considered to be on the touchline or goal line until the next stoppage in play. If the defending player returns to the field of play without the referee’s permission before the next stoppage of play and, in the opinion of the referee, thereby influences play, the defending player must be cautioned for unsporting behavior. If the referee stops play to administer the caution, the restart is an indirect free kick for the attacking team at the place where the ball was when play was stopped.

During this action, the AR stays with the second-to-last defender (taking into account the defender off the field), NOT level with where the defender left the field.  These places may turn out to be one and the same place if the defender left across a touch line but would NOT be the same if the defender went off the field across the goal line (unless TWO defenders went off the field!).

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