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Now, let’s learn about the offside rule in football!
What are offsides in football?
According to FIFA rules, a player is penalized for offside “at the time the ball is touched or played by one of his teammates”.
This means that every inch of a player’s head, body, or feet, must be in front of the last defender when the ball is passed to them. Otherwise, they will be excluded.
If the referee determines that a player is offside, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team. Which is conceptually the same as a regular free kick. But the ball must be passed to another player before a goal can be scored.
However, a player cannot be excluded if they receive the ball from a throw-in, kick-in, or corner kick.
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But those are good calls. Because we live in an imperfect universe, referees will at times miss a goal scorer from an offside position or disallow a truly deserved goal. It’s basically the place where football turns into a tearful soap opera with fans crying and screaming in the stands.
When was the offside rule introduced?
Ever since people started playing variations of the game we now know as soccer, hanging around the opponent’s goal to wait for lazy opportunities to score has been discouraged.
Before the rules of soccer became official in 1863, trying to discourage players from standing in an offside position seemed like an uphill task.
The way soccer teams played the game at this time varied from team to team and from region to region. The rule in a game one day may look different from how it looked in a game played the following day.
In December 1863 the offside rule was introduced as part of the newly agreed rules of soccer. The first game using the offside rule took place on December 19, 1863, between Morley’s Barnes team and Richmond.
Since, at this point in soccer’s history, many people have already noticed faults with this obvious flaw, the introduction of the offside rule at this time was unanimously welcomed.
While the offside rule became official back in 1863, thanks to ongoing slight and significant changes in the rules over time, the rules at the time were vastly different from what we know now.
The offside rule football
1. Offside position
To be in an offside position is not an offense.
A player is in an offside position if:
- Any part of the head, body, or foot that is within the opponent’s half of the field (excluding half way).
- Any part of the head, body, or foot that is closer to an opponent’s touchline than both the ball and the second-last opponent.
- Including the goalkeeper, the hands and arms of all players, are not considered. For the purpose of determining offside, the upper border of the arm is aligned with the lower line of the armpit.
If the player is level with, he is not in an offside position:
- Second last opponent.
- The last two opponents.
2. Offside violation
A player who is in an offside position at the time the ball is played or touched by a teammate is penalized only for active participation by:
- interfere with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a teammate or
Intervene with opponents
- clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of sight to prevent an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball or.
- challenge the opponent to win the ball or.
- clearly trying to play a close ball when the action hits an opponent or.
- take an action that clearly affects the opponent’s ability to play the ball.
- gain an advantage by interfering with an opponent or playing the ball when:
- bounced back or was deflected off the goal post, crossbar, or opponent.
- intentionally saved by any opponent.
A player in an offside position who receives the ball from an opponent intentionally playing the ball, including intentionally using his hand to play the ball, is not considered to have gained an advantage unless the opponent intentionally blocks it.
‘Save’ is when a player stops or tries to block a ball entering or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hand/arm (unless the goalkeeper is in the box).
Exceptions and Edge Cases of Offside in football
1. Know situations where offside cannot be ruled
A player cannot be penalized for offside when receiving the ball directly from a throw-in, corner, or kick-in. In these situations, the ball was played left and all offsides were reset.
2. Understand resetting offside
When the defending team gains possession of the ball, the offensive team’s offside status is reset. Any attacker who was offside in the final match is now free to interfere in the match without penalty. However, there are some edge cases where it may not be clear whether this will happen. The referrer always makes the last call, but here are the general guidelines:
- If a defender accidentally deflects the ball or it bounces back to her, there will be no reset for offside. This includes an instinctive response to deflect the ball, although this can be a difficult ref call.
- If the defender makes a clearance to prevent the goal, there will be no reset for offside. Waiting at the goal, prevents offside players from gaining an advantage.
- The defender must gain possession of the ball before the offside player intervenes. This can be subjective, but offside players are usually safe if approached from a long distance.
3. Take into account defenders who ran off the field
If a defender runs off the edge of the field due to his own momentum, he is still counted as a defender when playing inside and offside positions.
4. Consider offside players intervening from a distance
An offside player not approaching the ball can still be penalized if she blocks a defender’s line of sight in a way that interferes with their play. Since a rule was revised in 2013, this is the only way an offside player can receive a penalty without making contact with the defender or the ball. Gestures and shouting do not violate the offside rule, although they can receive penalties for bad behavior.
What is the point of the offside rule?
While at times confusing, the offside rule prevents teams from camping out in front of the goal and encourages more fluid play.
The offside rule forces teams to play smarter and have resulted in some great tactical battles.
A number of the best sides in the modern game often use an offside trap in the form of a high defensive line to catch opposing teams offside when they’re attacking. While this can work to the defending side’s advantage, it can also leave them more exposed when attacking players manage to stay onside and break past the back line.
The offside rule might be frustrating for attackers, but it has undoubtedly given the game an extra layer of depth and kept the sport more balanced across the pitch.
Can you be offside from a goal kick?
According to the Laws of the Game, you cannot commit an offside offense from a goal kick. Even if you are in an offside position, you will not be called offside by the referee.
You will commit an offside offense if you meet these 2 criteria:
- You are in an offside position when your teammate plays the ball
- You are actively involved in a play
When the goalkeeper takes his goal kick, he may be able to kick it all the way into the opponent’s half. Even if you are in an offside position when the ball is kicked, you will not be called offside!
Can you be offside from a throw in?
According to the Laws of the Game, you cannot commit an offside offense from a throw-in. Even if you are in an offside position when the throw-in was made, you will not be called offside by the referee.
When your teammate throws the ball into the pitch, you can be in an offside position to receive it. You can see the scenario below which shows how a goal can be scored from a throw-in!
The player who scored the goal was originally in an offside position. However, an offside offense was not called because his teammate played the ball from a throw-in.
In another situation in this Serie A match, Rafael Leão is in an offside position when the ball was thrown in, but the goal still stood.
The same happened when Gabriel Jesus was in an offside position when he received the throw. As such, you cannot be in an offside position from a throw-in!
When is A Player Involved in Active Play?
According to the world’s official soccer governing body, FIFA, a player will actively interfere with play if they touch the ball after it has been passed to them by a teammate. However, a player can also affect play without touching the ball. Therefore he is penalized for offside if the referee feels that their offside position interferes with the opponent. For example by preventing an opponent from playing the ball. Or when obstructing a pass from the goalkeeper’s line of sight.
Players can also be penalized for offside if the referee thinks they have an advantage when they are offside. Such as when the ball lands on them after hitting the post or bouncing back from another player.
Through this article, we hope you have understood what is offside in football. As well as situations where a player on the field may or may not be offside. Follow our blog at Football Terms to read interesting articles!