Today I was a single ref in a youth soccer boys game. My question concerns an offsides call that I made.

The offensive player was bringing the ball into the PK area on the right side (near post). The goalie was approximately in the middle but favoring the far post a little. An offensive player was clearly in the offsides position about 4 feet inside the far post waiting for a pass. He didn’t get the pass. The player with the ball shot the ball on the ground at the near post and scored. I did not see the goalie move toward the offsides player who remained 4 feet inside the far post. Of course I couldn’t read the goalie’s mind and I don’t know if he was partially focused on the offsides player. I don’t know if the goalie would have moved closer to the shot if the offsides player wasn’t a threat at the far post.

As soon as the goal was scored I disallowed the goal and called offsides. (the coach opposed my call saying that his man was not involved in the play) I based my call on the possibility that, by necessity, the goalie was frozen and couldn’t move toward the player with the ball or couldn’t move toward the near post. In essence the off-sides player could have made the goal wider by making the goalie stay near to him. I thought that was an advantage. Again I didn’t see the goalie move toward the off-sides player and I couldn’t read his mind.

What call would you have made?

USSF answer (April 27, 2010):
Not offside. Referees should not attempt to read the minds of players or attribute to them actions that are not clearly evident. Referees act only on facts and the results of player actions. In this case the opponent was in the offside position, but you present no evidence that the player acted to interfere with an opponent, so he could not be declared offside. (There is no such thing as “offsides” in soccer.)

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