My questions relate to Advice 11.6 that an off-sides player is “gaining an advantage” when he can capitalize immediately on a defender’s mistake (usually seen in non-controlled keeper deflections or goal post rebounds per Advice) and 11.14.2 that the off-sides determination is “re-set” when a defender gains possession/control of the ball (not simply deflecting it).

Consider Attacker A1 passes to the right flank area where A2 is standing in an off-sides position (10 yards). A2 makes no movement for the ball and even steps back from it (A2 judged not to be involved at this point). Onsides attacker/midfielder A3 begins to moves towards ball. A Defender will get to ball before A3 arrives. Next:
1. Defender’s first touch on the ball, seeing A3 approach, is to purposefully pass it back to keeper to kick a clearing ball. A2, passively observing till now, chases the ball to intercept it or at least challenge keeper’s clearance.
2. Defender gains control of ball and starts to dribble forward and within 2-3 seconds is challenged (otherwise fairly) from A2 who approached from Defenders rear.
3. Same as scenario 2 but A2 arrives 4-5 seconds later.

In each scenario, Defender exhibits some ball possession or control. To what extent, if any, should Defender be allowed to play absent A2’s involvement?

USSF answer (November 26, 2007):
“Off-sides”? “Onsides”? First things first, with a brief lecture on terminology. In soccer, the word is singular — offside or onside — unless we are talking about multiple violations. Second, we must always be clear about whether we are talking about “position” or “infringement,” so it is best at every opportunity to refer to offside or onside position and to an offside infringement.

Perhaps we misunderstand the question(s), but once a defender plays (meaning “possesses and controls”) the ball, there is no longer any immediate concern for the offside or onside position of any opposing player because, by definition, they cannot commit any offside infringement. The referee and the Laws of the Game cannot compensate for the mistakes of players. If a defender gains control of the ball and then misplays it or is so unaware of the position of any opponent as to allow that opponent to sneak up and successfully challenge for the ball, oh well, life is hard.

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