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Question Number: 31898

Law 11 - Offside 10/13/2017

RE: Intermediate Under 14

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 31888

I'm confused about something referee Peter Grove said. Why would it matter if the 2nd to last defender had part of his body in front of the line? For offside position, you compare the 2nd to last defender's body part (that can play the ball) that's closest to the goal line, not the furthest. So, e.g., if his foot straddled the line, but he was leaning forward away from the goal, there still wouldn't be an offside position, right?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Phil,
You're right, I shouldn't have talked about a player having any part of the body in front of the line, I think I was more envisaging the situation where the player is partly in front of the line and a fraction of the line would still be visible if you were looking directly down from above. However I also said that if the defenders were behind the line, the situation would be different (as it would be if they were straddling the line), that it would in fact be rare to have not just one but two defenders exactly on the line and the chances are that one or both would be slightly in front of it. So again we're taking about an unusual situation that is fairly unlikely to happen.

In the end, I think this is all becoming rather reminiscent of the question of how many angels can dance on the head of a pin - it is a highly theoretical discussion of a very unlikely situation and (at least in terms of the attacker) not based on real physical positioning but virtual position.

My contention is that an attacker who is off the pitch, by invoking a 'spirit of the game' interpretation (which again is necessarily subjective, since the IFAB does not specify the 'spirit of the game' interpretation for every scenario) should probably be assumed to be in an offside position even when there are defenders who are partly on the line (but not behind it).

This is however just my personal opinion and I also pointed out that it would be difficult to gainsay a referee who chose to see the attacker as level and onside

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
Good to hear from you.
When giving answers the assumption is made that there has to be some tactic knowledge otherwise the answers will run to a page covering all eventualities.
This type of offside situation or not is extremely rare. More often we have the attacker coming back from behind the line which makes it an easy call or we have a defender behind the goal line who plays all the attackers onside along with the goalkeeper or a 2nd defender.
The principle is that once a player is touching the line or breaking the plane of the line with a body part that can play the ball the goal line is then the offside line with two opponents stood on or behind the line at the moment the ball is played by an attacker.
The situations that we have seen are assisted by the recent amendment.
In this one the Blue defender off the FOP plays everyone onside. Now interestingly had Blue cleared the ball away towards half way a new phase of play begins and the blue player if he stays off injured is now not considered for offside purposes under the new amendment He must seek the referees permission though to return in such circumstances.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Phil.
it is good you locked down the correct interpretation.

If BOTH opponents have ANY PLAYABLE body part on the goal line or breaking the plane and this is easily identified by the AR even if there rest of their bodies was stretched out towards center no offside is possible if the attacker is just stepping back onto the field with his big toe and the rest of him is outside the goal line for all intents and purposes they are EQUAL they just will not look like it if play develops to where the returning player manages to access the ball.

REMEMBER though, the LOOK time to determine position occurs WHEN the ball is last touched BY the attacking team if the 2 last opponents were not already on the goal line but backed into it slightly after THEN offside is plausible! Timing and inches will be a critical factor here. I watched a goal awarded when an attacker in behind the goal though a run to the far post moved out to intercept the ball about 2 yards out from goal and the defender had backed into the goal line along with the keeper so it appeared he was shooting through two opponents BUT that was not the correct position WHEN the ball was last touched by the attackers'' team mate.
The goal was offside and should not have counted it was at the world cup and it decided the match. The official crew were crestfallen as it wass perhaps their only real mistake in the whole match.

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

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