Barry, an adult amateur fan, asks:
Is there anywhere within the offside rule that means the free kick to opposition can be taken in your half of the pitch?
Yes, of course. While kind of rare (mainly because most team styles of play make the conditions it would require rare), it can certainly happen. Consider the following (simplified to save time and space but with all pertinent information):
- Red versus Blue
- Red #7 has the ball in his own end about 30 yards up from his goal line
- The Blue goalkeeper is defending his goal but all his teammates are crowded upfield and all ten of them are either in Red’s half of the field or in their own end of the field but within 10 yards of the midfield line, all massed generally to the right side of the field
- Red #16 is about 12 yards into the Blue end
- Red #7 sees “space” (no opponents) on the right side of the field
- Red #7 kicks the ball toward the empty right side of the field
- Red #16 anticipates his teammate’s action and begins running toward where he estimates the ball will land, in the process of which he crosses the midfield line and, five yards in, takes control of the ball
- Red #16 is in an offside position (ahead of the ball, ahead of the second to last defender, and in the opposing team’s end of the field) while Red #7 has the ball in his possession
- Red #16 has committed an offside offense while in an offside position (coming from where he originally acquired it) and is correctly whistled by the referee
- The restart is an IFK for the Blue team where Red #16 became involved in active play by interfering with play (touching the ball) and that location is 5 yards inside the Red team’s end of the field
So, why do we have this question arising now and so many believing that it is not possible to have the offside offense punished in the offending team’s own end of the field? That is also simple to answer. Because the Laws of the Game changed several years ago but a lot of people didn’t fully understand the implications of the change. Not too long ago, when an offside offense was committed, the decision resulted in an IFK where the offside position was originally achieved (i.e., where the attacker was when he or she acquired the offside position) but the International Board changed it to where the offense was committed while in an offside position.
Because it was impossible to acquire an offside position in your own end of the field, the offside offense restart was always in the defender’s end of the field. Although it was always possible (given the scenario’s terms) to have committed the offside offense in your end of the field, the restart was always shifted to the opposing end of the field … until the Law changed. Many simply did not understand all the consequences of this change in the Law. There had been no comment on this when the change was first made but, within a year, it had become obvious that many were arguing that the restart couldn’t be where the Law change now made possible and, so, in the next year’s Law changes, the International Board added the observation that, of course, the restart location could be in the attacker’s own end of the field under certain (admittedly rare) conditions. In short, the Law change didn’t involve either offside position or offside violation requirements — it “merely” changed the location of the restart.