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Offside Rule

The Offside Rule according to FIFA

All right, where are where are we going wrong with this Offside Rule? This rule is only complicated by a lack of knowledge by Referees, their Assistants and everyone else who thinks they get it right all the time. Stop complicating a simple Law.

Looking inside our FIFA Laws of the Game (Law 11 Offside) to see what the rules really say, it is interesting to note that the hand ball rule only takes up a page where other rules take up over 2 pages. So why is it so misunderstood and subject to so much controversy?

Remember the old Rule that said you had to have two players in front of you to be onside (the goalkeeper + 1 other). How easy was that!

Interpreting The Offside Rule

Here’s breaking news for everyone…….nothing much has changed.

The difference now is, that the modern game allows players to be anywhere on the field of play without automatically being in an offside position.

For a player to be penalised for being in the OLD offside position, he must be involved in active play. In other words he must be playing at the ball or interfering with someone who is or have gained an advantage from being in that offside position. If he stands there and waits for play to catch up then that’s okay. Not Offside. If he runs down the other side of the field of play away from the ball and not interfering, that’s okay, Not Offside.

The mumbo jumbo such as:

A player in an offside position may be penalised before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball’; means exactly what we just said.

How simple is that. Sure there are a few bits and pieces and interpretations that assist Referees and their Assistants in making a judgement call but the essence of the Law is just that.

Remember that a player can not be offside from:

  • a goal kick
  • a throw-in, or
  • a corner kick

If you want to know where all the controversy comes from well here it is. The key element to any offside decision is whether or not the attacking player who will receive the ball, is onside, (2 players in front of him), at the MOMENT THE BALL IS KICKED.

Spectators, coaches and players all watch the player who is about to kick the ball and by the time they follow the ball in the air and it reaches the intended recipient he/she may be 2 metres in front of every other player and appear to be offside. Then we all scream at the Assistant Referee for being blind as a bat.

In actual fact, the player timed his/her run perfectly and you were not watching.

Assistant Referees are best placed to Judge

That is why the Assistant Referee stays level with the second last defender. So they can judge to the best of their ability the offside rule. Here’s the trick that Assistant Referees get taught so that they may judge as accurately as possible.

They LISTEN for the kick whilst watching the defending line. That means at that very instant the ball is kicked they can judge offside or onside. A split second can make all the difference to a correct or incorrect judgement.

If you are one of these people who love to be right then remember, unless you are right in line with the second last defender your view will be 1-2 metres different to that of the Assistant Referee. It’s all to do with mathematical angles I’m told. Sitting in a stand away from the last line of defenders or being at the other end of the field and screaming out means its time to do a Referees course because your eyes are better than mine.

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