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Question Number: 32281

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/5/2018

RE: Barca fan Under 15

Rupert Handley of Perth, Western Australia Australia asks...

Ive got a question regarding offside.
Lets say your offside. If you directly are involved in play, you will be called back for offside. What exactly constitutes "being involved in play"? If you are offside, and you do an air kick (when you try and kick the back but miss and dont make contact, like Cristiano Ronaldo in the Classico back in December 2017) wounld that be deemed as being involved in play?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rupert
Being involved in play is defined within the Laws.
Interfering with play or interfering with an opponents are the actual terms used.
Interfering with play is actually touching or playing the ball while interfering with an opponents is defined as
# preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball or
# clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or
# making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.
An air kick close to the ball impacting on an opponent is covered under the second bullet point above
Here is an example that was subsequently shown to be incorrect and should have been called offside
Red No 10 clearly attempts to play the ball which he misses which is close enough as it impacts on the goalkeeper and his subsequent play by not closing down the actual scorer.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Rupert,
When we define a definition by using the words IN THE OPINION OF THE REFEREE there will be incidents of proximity that fall on either side of a referee radar as to their perception of an actual effect on play.

CLEARLY attempting to play a ball making an obvious action which clearly impacts an opponent or on the ability of an opponent to play the ball. In other words if we remove the PIOP could the keeper have been able to do anything else to stop the goal?

For keepers we use line of sight as one clear directive to account for but if a PIOP does attempt to play the ball unless the keeper is affected by a collision or a PIADM or can not see the actual ball flight there maybe no offside at all. I can see the potential for PIADM by a high foot to the face of the keeper as sufficient for involvement to force a keeper to shy away or pull out upon thinking there could be a contact while attempting to play the ball. If we placed the keeper instead out over the the 6 yard goal line well right & ahead of the PIOP who chased pursued but MISSED touching the ball that was a good goal as the PIOP made no impact on the outcome but interference with an opponent is much more subtle and proximity will play its part. In this case the AR held his flag as he felt the keeper had no chance to stop the ball no matter which decision he choose deciding the PIOP albeit close was not forcing the keeper actions as the ball was not within the keeper's grasp but nor was he prevented from getting to the ball. Now we as outside referees might disagree but their match their decision their reputation was based on a real time observation.
To say he intended to play the ball is NOT sufficient for involvement!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Rupert,
Ref McHugh has already given the major parts of the wording in the Laws which define what being involved in active play means.

Just for completeness, I should give you an additional section that was added just this year to slightly refine the 'interfering with an opponent' clause. This additional new wording is:

''In situations where a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball''

Also, to expand on the point (which applies to your scenario) about a player attempting to play a ball close to them when this impacts on an opponent, the IFAB circular that introduced this wording makes it clear that in all cases, 'impacts' refers ''to an opponent's ability (or potential) to play the ball'' and not for instance, some more nebulous or theoretical form of impact which does not directly affect the opponent's ball-playing ability.

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