During recreational tournament play, red team player A was within 10 yards of both the near touch line and midfield in a clearly offside position, returning to his half. Red team player B on the far touch line, on his own defending half of the field, took possession of the ball and turned down that line. As he approached the midfield line but before he crossed, he pushed the ball long, and blew past the blue defenders on the midfield line. His next touch on the ball was 25 yards later, stopping it from crossing the far touch line with a turn in on goal. There were no other red players in the vicinity.

Red player A had reversed course on the near touchline during this time and headed for the blue box, initially a little ahead of the ball, not interfering with any play or players, putting himself in a potentially advantageous position for a rebound off the keeper but not obstructing the keepers movement or view. Upon Red B touching the ball, the AR put his flag up, signaling an offside offense. The whistle was immediately blown, no shot was taken and the blue team was awarded a free kick from the spot that Red B touched the ball. The coach questioned the call from the sideline, and the center pointed to the red player A on the near sideline. The kick was taken by blue.

Well after the game, in the concession area well away from the field, the center explained to the coach in a friendly conversation that any touch of the ball that puts the ball outside a radius that is immediately playable without movement by the player in possession is a loss of possession and therefore a play or pass if touched next by the same team. Even in the case of a lone dribbler who is not careful to keep the ball at her feet, movement down the field would be considered a series of passes to herself. So regardless of Red A’s involvement or even position at the time of play, Red B had committed an offside offense by passing to himself.

My understanding is that 1) you can’t make a pass to yourself 2) if you could make a pass to yourself, making the pass from your own half would preclude any offside offense (absent other interference or advantage) 3) even if you are alone against an undefended goal in the attacking half of the field, there can’t be offside offense so long as you are behind the ball and playing forward to yourself 4) so long as any player in an offside position does not interfere with play or with players, and does not gain an advantage from his position, there is no offense.

Can you pass to yourself?

Is “loose dribbling” a loss of possession?

Stipulating to the description above, is there any interpretation of the scenario that is an offside offense?

USSF answer (December 6, 2011):
It would seem that your referee had visited a different sort of concession area before the game as well and had consumed some sort of illegal substance while there, as his/her judgment was clouded and a great lack of knowledge was on display for all to see. We do not need referees who make their own interpretation of the Laws.

Yes, a player can pass to himself and CANNOT and MUST NOT be called for offside in such a case. Passing to oneself is perfectly legal and within the Law: the Law specifies that the ball must be played to a teammate and a player cannot be his or her own teammate. “Loose dribbling” is not a loss of possession. No, there is no offside in this case.