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Question Number: 24750

Law 11 - Offside 3/31/2011

RE: Under 19

Steven of sydney, nsw australia asks...

This happened when i was assistant referee the other day and the referee waved me down. I'll try explain it the best i can .

So it was done near the corner flag close to me . A player was in a offside position but did not play the ball and a opponent got the ball dribbled it maybe two metres then the player in a offside position came and tried to take the ball and was in her back i raised the flag for offside as she interfered with opponent in my eyes but the referee waved me down ...?

I questioned him after n he said cause she ran back onside then back to tackle the opponent he thought it wasn't offside. I replied but that doesn't restart the offside and so she interfered ..... ????

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
The key here is whether the defender had sufficent control of the ball without pressure from the PIOP and as such reset offside. A player cannot put herself back on onside by doing anything including changing position.
Offside is only reset when the ball goes out of play or a new phase of play begins including control of the ball by the opponents.
In this case, as described, I'm unsure if the position of the attacker interfered with the ball dribble by the defender of two metres to call offside? If the original offside was not called when the PIOP did not play then ball then my instinct would suggest to allow play to continue as another phase of play may have begun with the dribble. Its a tight call either way and unless it was patently clear that the flag was 'incorrect' I would accept the offside flag. I suspect that there was more debate about waving down the flag than if it was accepted and the IDFK awarded for offside.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

This is a tricky one.
The way the law is written, as soon as the defender controls the ball, that phase of play is over and offside is no longer a consideration.
However, like many things in the law, we can't take it too literally. If a defender traps the ball and is immediately pressured by an offside attacker, we'll still consider that to be interfering with an opponent.

However, if that attacker waits a good few seconds before pressuring the defender, then by this point we'll have seen sufficient control to decide that offside is no longer a factor.

The scenario described by you, Steven, falls somewhere between these two lines. I think the proximity of the attacker to the defender is one factor that may be considered - if she's close enough when the defender gets the ball to be pressuring her, then perhaps that's enough as she's potentially interfered with the opponent from the moment she got the ball.

But if she, say, came from a different direction from some distance....well, the immediacy of the challenge could still justify penalising the player, but I can also understand why the referee determined that she had enough time. Not being there myself, I can't really say whether the referee was correct in this matter.

However, I would also question the mechanics here - I don't believe the referee should overrule the assistant unless he absolutely, definitely, clearly has to. In your scenario, I believe it was a close enough call that perhaps the referee should have, for the sake of a united front, given you the benefit of the doubt.

However, to me it sounds like the referee's reasoning is incorrect - as you know, a player can't put themselves back onside.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

If the attacker that was in an offside position when the ball was played by his teammate was close enough to the opponent to immediately capitalize on his position, he MAY have interfered with an opponent.
Offside did NOT reset when the offside positioned player moved to an onside position. Your center referee is incorrect. However, offside DOES reset when the opponents control the ball. You say the defender dribbled the ball for 2 meters. Without seeing the play, I am inclined to think the defender had control and offside reset before the attacker 'interfered' so no offside

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