I’m sure you’ve seen this and I’m sure someone somewhere has said something to the Federation, but in Interpretations it absolutely positively says you don’t have to wait for contact with the ball to put up the flag for interfering with play if you think no onside player has a chance to play the ball. This, of course, is in direct contradiction to the 3/29 memo which is just as clear that you DO have to wait until contact is made with the ball.

So we seem to have a clear case of USSF policy contradicting LOTG. Do you have any idea what is going on?

USSF answer (July 8, 2009):
The intent of the language associated with diagram 4 under the interpretations for Law 11 —

A player in an offside position (A) may be penalized before playing or touching the ball, if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.

— is the IFAB’s typically roundabout way of saying precisely what we have always said in this regard; namely, that the race between an attacker in an offside position and one or more attackers in an onside position can only be resolved by seeing which one gets to the ball first and touches it. In the absence of any onside position attacker who is judged clearly unable to get to the ball before any of his onside position teammates, the offside offense may be called. This is NOT the same situation as when a ball is played toward an attacker in an offside position attacker and the only way to tell if that attacker will interfere with play is to see if that attacker touches the ball. In the absence of touching the ball, we cannot make any inference that the attacker could or might interfere with play because he or she could, right on up to the last moment, not touch the ball.

NOTE: In other words, there is no contradiction of the March 29, 2009, position paper.

Further, even if this is taken as a digression from the IFAB interpretation, this would not be either the first nor the only place where such a divergence has occurred. We remain, for example, at odds with the interpretations on such other matters as the AR’s signal for blatant goalkeeper movement at a penalty kick and whether a player who is off the field to correct an equipment problem can return to the field while the ball is in play (assuming the referee has given permission and the responsibility for checking if the correction has been made was delegated to the AR or 4th official).

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