This question relates to what role the trailing Assistant Referee may play in assisting with an offside call on the other end of the field. This situation occurred in a high school game (on whose rules I know you don’t directly comment), but I imagine that it could easily occur in a USSF sanctioned match.

Team A has pushed its defenders up to the midfield line. Due to a rapid exchange of possessions, I am lined up with Team B’s second to last defender about 15 yards from the midfield line (one of those awkward situations where 20 players are squeezed into a relatively narrow slice of the field). Team B gains possession of the ball and clears it into the other half of the field. From my position I judge that Team B has three players in an offside position, and one of these players gains possession of the ball. Where is the Assistant Referee who should be signaling the offside? For some unknown reason he is 40 yards out of position and incapable of assisting. Since the referee’s attention had been on the clearing defender, and the (potentially) offside player was only 2-3 steps offside when the ball was played, he is unable to make the offside call on his own and allows play to continue.

I am about as sure as I can be from 15 yards on my side of the field that the player was offside, as I could see no Team A players in their own half of the field. After seeing that the other AR is incapable of performing his duty, can I raise my flag to help the referee make a decision?

In this case I chose not to signal for offside. Fortunately the play did not result in a goal, as it would likely have affected the outcome of the game. If a goal had been scored, would it have been too late to offer my opinion to the referee that the player had been offside (assuming that I did so before the ensuing kickoff)?

USSF answer (May 12, 2009):
As you note, we do not deal with high school rules, but there should be no difference in this situation.

While you may indeed have had a view of the alignment of the players, assistance from you in this case could not be “sold” to the participants because of where you were on the field — not in line with play. If you flagged and offered your opinion and the referee accepted it, that would cause more difficulty than either of you can imagine.

The same applies to offering your opinion after the goal had been scored and before the ensuing kick-off.

Our advice would be to mention it to the referee after the game and have him take it up with the other AR, who should be ashamed for being so far out of position and thus endangering the referee’s control of the game.

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