Consider the following setup.
An attacker is in an offside position on (or close to) the goal line.
A team mate takes a shot from around 14 yards while the goalkeeper went out of the goal to challenge him. All defenders are behind the line of the attacker who has the ball.
1. The offside attacker (which has no defenders around him and is not interfering with or disturbing the goalkeeper) gets hit by the ball and the ball enters the goal. Even if the ball had not touched him, it is obvious that the ball would have still ended up in the goal.
Question: Should the offside position be called or should the goal be allowed? (By the book: call the offside – interfering with play because he touched the ball)
2. The offside attacker deliberately steps inside the goal to avoid the offside possition (no matter if he gets hit by the ball there). In this case the goal should be disallowed and the offside player cautioned for deliberately getting off the field without permission, right?
3. The offside player stumbles and falls beyond the goal line inside the goal (being hit otherwise by the ball), avoiding this way the offside position. What should be the call in this case? What if the player fakes (not so obviously maybe) a stumble and falls inside the goal avoiding this way the offside (supposing that this would be the only way to avoid being hit by the ball)?
USSF answer (April 20, 2009):
1. Offside. No one could say for certain that the ball would have entered the goal without the player’s touch, no matter how much it would have appeared so.
2. No offside. Unless the referee believes otherwise, the player who enters the goal to avoid being involved in the play and does not touch the ball before it fully crosses the goal line and does not in any way prevent the goalkeeper from saving the shot has not interfered with play and should not be punished.
Furthermore, when an attacker leaves the field in order to demonstrate noninvolvement in active play for purposes of avoiding being declared offside, the Laws of the Game have traditionally recognized that this attacker has left the field “in the normal course of play” and should accordingly not be cautioned for this reason.
3. This decision can be made only by the referee on the game, taking into consideration what the referee has seen of play and the player thus far in the game.
In any event, whatever the attacker’s motivation or method of entering the area of the goal, the fact is that this attacker did not make contact with the ball, did not interfere with play, and thus should not be declared offside.