RE: DELIBERATE HANDLING VS. OFFSIDE — NEW INTERPRETATION
I read with interest your discussion of deliberate handling by a defender that prevents a pass by an attacker from reaching another attacker in an offside position. You stated that, given new offside interpretations, this should be considered deliberate handling rather than offside. My question involves a slightly different situation that was discussed around 1997 in an issue of Fair Play, if I remember correctly: deliberate handling by a defender that deflects a pass by an attacker, redirecting it to another attacker in an offside position. Assuming that the deflection is not considered control for purposes of resetting the offside situation, should this still be considered offside if the attacker in the offside position plays the ball (but not if he refrains from doing so)? The difference between the new situation and the old one is that in the new situation the handling prevents the player in an offside position from interfering with play, while in the old situation the handling enables the player in an offside position to interfere with play. I believe that the USSF interpretation circa 1997 for the old situation was that when involvement by the player in the offside position eventually occurs, the offside offense is deemed to have occurred at the time of the pass, which predates the handling. In the old situation, however, the handling predates involvement by the player in the offside position.
Thanks, as always.
USSF answer (June 11, 2009):
We see no functional difference (under the current guidelines from the IFAB) between deliberate handling that prevents a ball from going to an attacker in an offside position and deliberate handling that results in the ball going to an attacker in an offside position (who, presumably, would not have been able to even consider playing the ball but for the handling). Either way, the handling must be called and, either way, the offside offense has not occurred — in the first situation because the ball was redirected and, in the second situation, because the attacker isn’t even given a chance to make contact with the ball because the handling occurred first (and the AR’s flag should not go up in either case for anything related to offside).
Now a simple redirection of the ball from an accidental deflection off the defender is a different matter and the offside would be called.