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Question Number: 29545

Law 11 - Offside 7/22/2015

RE: Rec Adult

Tim Eliot of New York, NY USA asks...

Trying to get an answer to this offside rule question: Was playing in a game the other day, and was mystified by the situation. I was playing goalkeeper, and one of my defenders tried to clear the ball. It hit *either* an opposing attacker *or* another of my defenders, and bounced back to an opposing striker who was clearly in an offside position. My defender deliberately played the ball, but there was a major deflection either by our own player or an opposing player, and the striker gained an advantage by being in an offside position either way. What's the call? The ref allowed the play, and I was upset. Does it matter whom the ball rebounded off of?

Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

It does matter.

When a defender makes a deliberate play on the ball, all opponents (regardless of their prior position) are eligible to play the ball. Recent changes to law 11 clarify that it is not gaining an advantage to play a ball after it is received from a deliberate play by a defender (that is not a deliberate save).

But, it is critical to know what happened after the defender makes a deliberate play. If the ball then touches an opponent, then the referee must again determine if there are any players in offside position when the ball was touched. If they then play the ball, they will be offside.

If after the defender's deliberate play, the ball only touches another defender, then the opponent remains eligible to play (and score).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Tim
The answer lies in who the ball rebounded off. It makes no difference that it was a deliberate play by the defender as the last player to touch or play the ball was the player it rebounded from. If it rebounded off an attacking player then offside should have been called. If the ball rebounded off a defender then there was no possible offside.

Now in a play where the ball rebounds off multiple players in a confined space it can be difficult to determine who last touched the ball. From your question you seem unsure who the ball came off last. If it was a defender then there was no offside. Also remember that gaining an advantage by being in an offside position is entirely different from the ball falling advantageously from an opponent when the ball has been deliberately played by an opponent and no last touch by an attacker.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Tim,
YES it matters a great deal!
The moment your defender deliberately played the ball the offside restriction for the opposition striker standing in an offside position was lifted.
That striker is free to participate in ongoing play.

Now you say the ball REBOUNDED back to that striker after your defender deliberately played the ball but IF all it did was to hit another defender the opposition striker is still free to play the ball as there is no offside possible because there is no NEW offside evaluation as the striker's team has not yet touched the ball since their last offside evaluation!. YOUR TEAM LAST TOUCHED/PLAYED THE BALL!

NOW! What could change is... IF... the ball struck another attacker, at that ...CRITICAL... moment when the ball touches the other attacker WHERE is his team mate the striker? Why? Because this is a brand NEW offside evaluation moment for the striker's team. . It does not matter the striker was previously offside before your defender tried to clear. What matters, is he NOW offside positioned? If the striker is offside positioned at that critical freeze frame moment then he CAN NOT participate in play and could not be allowed to score .HIS TEAM LAST PLAYED/TOUCHED THE BALL!

What CAN and most often happens is offside position is but one step in offside evaluation as the fact the ball and players move. This complexity of offside is in correctly identifying the playing restriction is not in effect or it is in effect based on where someone was ,not necessarily where they end up.

For example lets say the striker moved up away from your goal line just as your defender resets offside and the striker is no longer currently offside positioned as there are at least two opponents between him and your goal line The deflection then occurs, it would not matter who deflects if the striker then moves past the 2nd last opponent to score a good goal as no offside was possible .

HOWEVER if the striker did not change his offside position so that when the deflection occurs our striker is still there closer to your goal than the 2nd last opponent it now REALLY matters WHO that ball defected off of? If the ball last touches the teammate of the striker he is offside and cannot score . If the ball deflects only off another defender the striker can legally score.


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Offside Question?

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

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