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Question Number: 27616

Law 11 - Offside 7/23/2013

RE: Rec Adult

Russell of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 27607

In Ref Jason's reply he has said that if a defender attempts to intercept a pass...however does not gain control and only deflects the ball to player in the offside position - then the offside stands.
I question this as I feel that if a player 'attempts' to play the ball then this is a deliberate action. The fact that they do not gain control is just an outcome of the attempt to gain control. Therefore being a deliberate action - I think the offside should be cancelled out.
I see how my view may be technically incorrect by the laws but I welcome your thinking on this.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
The key in Law 11's 'gaining an advantage by being in that position' are the words deflected and rebounds. If it is deemed to be a deflection then offside is not reset. The same can be said of a rebound. For example when a goalkeeper has made a save that is a deliberate action and the ball rebounding from the GK does not reset the offside.
I would agree that a deliberate play does reset offside and sometimes there is a fine line between that play and a deflection. 'Control' is the key as once the referee considers that once control has been exercised the offside is reset.

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

In the US, the advice has been clear: a 'deliberate play' requires possession and control of the ball by the defender to reset offside position. A misplay or miskick is not enough. Moreover, it the player in offside position does something that affects the defender's ability to see or play the ball, that can result in an offside infringement immediately before the defender attempts any play on the ball. The US interpretation is not binding elsewhere in the world, but I believe it is consistent with FIFA and IFAB's interpretation.

At the highest levels, however, almost every play by a defender is deliberate and highly skilled. The issue for the referee is the same at all levels - - did the ball go where the defender intended? But, the skill level will often inform the referee's judgment.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

If it is not a controlled play on the ball then the deliberate nature of the attempt does not make a difference. There must be CONTROL (as noted above) - which in many cases is up to the discretion/opinion of the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,

The way the law is written it could be interpreted both ways - and there's recently been an alteration in the text which probably makes it even more vague.

A lot of players (especially older ones) believe that if the ball deflects off a player who stuck his leg out to stop the ball, then the attacker receiving the ball can't be penalised for offside.

Bear in mind that intercepting a ball is a routine and important part of the game. Each player wants to intercept every ball that passes by to prevent the opposition gaining possession. If you took the approach that a failed intercept (assuming there's contact) nullifies offside, then aren't you effectively punishing the defence for playing the game as it should be played?

You want defenders to be attempting to stop the ball (well, if you're a striker, you probably don't!), and it wouldn't be fair to punish them if a desperate attempt to stop a difficult ball means an attacker who would have been offside is now allowed to play the ball.

Some referees take the approach (particularly in higher grades) that if the defender should have been able to control the ball but stuff it up, then that's their problem - personally, I don't believe this view is justified.

Of course, then there's also the scenario where the failed intercept completely changes the direction of the ball (eg an attacker kicks a ball straight through when a teammate is in an offside position), a defender on the left tries to clear the ball but it bobbles and he sends it straight across the field to the offside attacker instead of up the field as intended. Some referees will treat that differently to the more typical case where a defender tries to kick/head the ball and it skims past. Personally, I think both should be treated the same for the reasons I provided above.

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Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

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