Offside

There was some discussion in tonight’s football game about offside. I was accused of being offside for a glorious left-footed goal. In reality, I was level with the passer, so the goal stood. Rightly so.

Some of the discussion centred around what happens if the passer is already beyond the last line of defence (although still with the goal-keeper to beat). Is their team-mate allowed to be in front of them when they pass?

I argued quite vehemently that they’re not, and I’m confident that I’m right. Below is the full transcript of the offside rule courtesy of the FA’s website.

Offside position

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.

A player is in an offside position if:

– he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.

A player is not in an offside position if:

– he is in his own half of the field of play, or
– he is level with the second last opponent, or
– he is level with the last two opponents.

Offence

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

– interfering with play, or
– interfering with an opponent, or
– gaining an advantage by being in that position.

No offence

There is no offside situation if a player receives the ball directly from:

– a goal kick, or
– a throw-in, or
– a corner kick.

Infringements/sanctions

For any offside offence, the referee awards an indirect free-kick to the opposing team to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred.

New International FA Board Decision 1

In the definition of offside position, "nearer to his opponents’ goal line" means that any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent. The arms are not included in this definition.

New International FA Board Decision 2

The definitions of elements of involvement in active play are as follows:

– Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team mate
– Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent
– Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.

As an amusing aside, here’s an explanation of the offside rule for the female audience.

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