“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.”