offside (football)



Offside is a Law in association football which effectively limits how far forward attacking players may be when involved in play. Simply put, a player cannot gain an advantage by waiting for the ball near the opposing goal with only the goalkeeper between him and the goal (only in the usual situation that the goalkeeper is the last defender).

The offside is perhaps the most complex of the football rules, and people not familiar with the game often have difficulty in understanding it, a situation not improved by recent "clarifications" to the rule.[1] As understanding the rule is considered central to being a "proper" or "real" football fan, there is a running joke in Germany, the UK, Ireland, the Netherlands and Brazil that women are unlikely to understand the rule (because they are seen as not liking football).[2][3] An advertisement for chocolate played on this stereotype, provoking official complaints.[4]

Application

The application of the offside rule is best considered in three steps; Offside position, Offside offence and Offside sanction.

Offside position

Enlarge picture
The blue forward on the left of the diagram is in an offside position as he is both in front of the second to last defender (marked by the dotted line) and the ball. Note that this does not necessarily mean he is committing an offside offence.


A player is in an offside position if "he is nearer to his opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second to last opponent," unless he is in his own half of the field of play. A player level with the second to last opponent is not in an offside position.

In 2005 The International Football Association Board agreed a new Decision in Law 11 that being 'nearer to his opponent's goal line' meant 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." [5] This is taken to mean that any part of the attacking player named in this Decision 2 has to be past the part of the second last defender closest to his goal line (excluding the arms) or past the part of the ball closest to the defenders' goal line.

In general, what this means is that either the attacking team should ensure the opposing team having at least two players (of which the opposition's goalkeeper is included) in between the goal line and the nearest player of the attacking team, or all players of the attacking team should be behind the ball such that it remains closer to the goal line than any of the player of the attacking team.

Offside offence

A player in an offside position is only committing an offside offence if, "at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team", in the opinion of the referee, he is involved in active play. A player is not committing an offside offence if the player receives the ball directly from a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick.

In order for an offside offence to occur the player must be in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a team-mate; a player who runs from an onside position into an offside position after the ball was touched or played by a team-mate is not penalised.

Similarly, a player who is in an offside position when the ball is touched or played by a team-mate may potentially commit an offside offence even if they run back in to an on-side position before receiving the ball. This potential remains until a teammate again touches or plays the ball and offside position is reevaluated, or the ball goes out of play, or an opponent makes a controlled play on the ball. A player formerly in offside position who benefits from an ill-advised but deliberate play by an opponent is not judged offside.[6]

Determining whether a player is in "active play" can be complex. FIFA issued new guidelines for interpreting the offside law in 2003 and these were incorporated in law 11 in July 2005. The new wording seeks to more precisely define the three cases as follows:
  • Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a teammate.
  • 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 an offside position includes playing a ball that rebounds to the player off a post or crossbar or playing a ball that rebounds to the player off an opponent having been in an offside position.
In practice, 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.

The referees' interpretation of these new definitions is still proving controversial, largely over what movements a player in an offside position can make without being judged to be interfering with an opponent. The famous quote: "If he's not interfering with play then what's he doing on the pitch?" is attributed by some to Bill Nicholson.

Offside sanction

The sanction for an offside offence is an indirect free kick to the opposing team, at the spot where the offence occurred. Most referees use their discretion and let play go on if the "offended" team already has the advantage or ball, in order not to slow down play with redundant free kicks that achieve the same purpose of giving the advantage or ball back to the "offended" team. This discretion should not be confused with the advantage clause, which can only be applied to Law 12. In essence, the referee who doesn't whistle offside must be judging that one of the elements of offside was not present.

Officiating

In enforcing this rule, the referee depends greatly on an assistant referee, who generally keeps in line with the second to last defender in his relevant end (exact positioning techniques are more complex). An assistant referee signals that an offside offence has occurred by first raising his or her flag upright without movement, and then when acknowledged by the referee, by raising his or her flag in a manner that signifies the location of the offence:
  • Flag pointed downwards: offence has occurred in the third of the pitch nearest to the assistant referee.
  • Flag horizontal to the ground: offence has occurred in the middle third of the pitch.
  • Flag pointed upwards: offence has occurred in the third of the pitch furthest from the assistant referee.
The assistant referees' task with regards to offside can be difficult, as they need to keep up with attacks and counter attacks, consider which players are in an offside position when the ball is played, and then determine whether the offside positioned players become involved in active play. The risk of false judgement is further enhanced by the foreshortening effect, which occurs when the distance between attacking player and the assistant referee is significantly different from the distance to the defending player, and the assistant referee is not directly in line with the defender. The difficulty of offside officiating is often underestimated by spectators. Trying to judge if a player is level with an opponent at the moment the ball is kicked is not easy: if an attacker and a defender are running in opposite directions, they can be two metres apart in a tenth of a second.

History

Offside rules date back to codes of football developed at English public schools in the early nineteenth century. These offside rules were often much stricter than that in the modern game. In some of them, a player was "off his side" if he was standing in front of the ball. This was similar to the current offside law in rugby, which penalises any player between the ball and the opponent's goal. By contrast, the original Sheffield Rules had no offside rule, and players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents' goal.

In 1848, H.C. Malden held a meeting at his Trinity College, Cambridge rooms, that addressed the problem. Representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury schools attended, each bringing their own set of rules. They sat down a little after 4pm and by five to midnight had drafted what is thought to be the first set of "Cambridge Rules". Malden is quoted as saying how "very satisfactorily they worked".

Unfortunately no copy of these 1848 rules exists today, but they are thought to have included laws governing throw-ins, goal-kicks, halfway line markings, re-starts, holding and pushing (which were outlawed) and offside. They even allowed for a string to be used as a cross bar.

A set of rules dated 1856 was discovered, over a hundred years later, in the library of Shrewsbury School. It is probably closely modelled on the Cambridge Rules and is thought to be the oldest set still in existence. Rule No. 9 required three defensive players to be ahead of an attacker who plays the ball. The rule states:
If the ball has passed a player and has come from the direction of his own goal, he may not touch it till the other side have kicked it, unless there are more than three of the other side before him. No player is allowed to loiter between the ball and the adversaries' goal. [1]


As football developed in the 1860s and 1870s, the offside law proved the biggest argument between the clubs. Sheffield got rid of the "kick throughs" by amending their laws so that one member of the defending side was required between a forward player and the opponent's goal; the Football Association also compromised slightly and adopted the Cambridge idea of three. Finally, Sheffield came into line with the F.A., and "three players" were the rule until 1925.

The change to "two players" rule led to an immediate increase in goal scoring. 4,700 goals were scored in 1,848 Football League games in 1924-25. This number rose to 6,373 goals (from the same number of games) in 1925-26.

Throughout the 1987-88 season, the GM Vauxhall Conference was used to test an experimental rule change, whereby no attacker could be offside directly from a free-kick. This change was not deemed a success, as the attacking team could pack the penalty area for any free-kick, and the rule change was not introduced at a higher level.

In 1990 the law was amended to consider an attacker to be onside if level with the second to last opponent. This change was part of a general movement by the game's authorities to make the rules more conducive to attacking football and help the game to flow more freely.

In 2003, FIFA issued more stringent guidelines for penalising offside infringements, to encourage attacking play. As such, whether a player in an offside position is penalised depends on his actions and location. With this modification, attackers are no longer penalised when they get behind the defenders from an onside position while having a passive teammate in an offside position. Thus there are more goals scored through legitimate defence-splitting passes without being penalised.

Offside trap

The offside trap is a defensive tactic. When an attacking player is making a run up the field with a team-mate ready to kick the ball up to him, all the defenders (except the goalkeeper) will move up-field in a relatively straight line in order to put the attacker behind them just before the ball is kicked, hence putting the attacker in an offside position when the ball is kicked. Defenders using this tactic often attempt to bring an attacker's potential offside status to the attention of the assistant referee, typically by shouting or raising their arm.

The use of the trap can be a risky strategy as all the defenders (except the goalkeeper) have to move up together in a relatively straight line, otherwise the attacking players will not be in an offside position as long as they are behind the goalkeeper and a defender that has not moved up; if the offside trap fails, the attacking players will have an almost clear run towards the goal. The 2003 rule changes have made it even more perilous as a tactic, since the definition of active play was made more stringent. Thus, teams attempting an offside trap are less likely to have an offside offence called when they have caught a player in an offside position if he is deemed by the referee to be not in active play.

One of the best-known defenders to employ the offside trap was Billy McCracken of Newcastle United. It is claimed his play pressured officials to modify the laws in 1925, reducing the required number of defenders between the attacker and the goal line from three to two.

References

1. ^ Article from World Soccer Magazine.
2. ^ News item from the BBC website.
3. ^ Article, from the New Statesman, which argues that women are making an effort to invert this stereotype as a means of obtaining greater social parity with men!
4. ^ Report from the Ofcom website, relating to an advert for Yorkie.
5. ^ 'Laws of the Game' section of FIFA official website.
6. ^ Video from YouTube.

External links

Association football, commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players. It is the most popular sport in the world.
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Offside, off-sides, off-side or off side may refer to:
  • A rule in a number of field sports to regulate aspects of player positioning

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The Laws of the Game (also known as the Laws of Football) are the rules governing a game of association football (soccer).

Current Laws of the Game

The current Laws of the Game consists of 17 individual laws:
  • Law 1: The Field of Play

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Association football, commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played between two teams of 11 players. It is the most popular sport in the world.
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"God and my right"
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The International Football Association Board (IFAB) (also known as The International F. A. Board or simply The International Board) is the body that determines the Laws of the Game of association football (soccer).
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A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer).

Award

A throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the team that last touched the ball, when the ball leaves the field of play by wholly crossing a side touch line (either on the ground or
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A goal kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer).

Award

A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the ball leaves the field of play by wholly crossing the goal line (either on the ground or in the air) without a goal having been
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corner kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer). It was first devised in Sheffield under the Sheffield Rules in 1867. It was adopted by the Football Association in 1872.
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Federation of International Football Associations

Motto for the good of the game. .
Formation May 21, 1904
Type Sports federation
Headquarters Zürich, Switzerland
Membership 208 national associations
President Sepp Blatter
Website [1]
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Bill Nicholson OBE (26 January 1919 - 23 October 2004) was an English football player, coach, manager and scout who devoted his life to Tottenham Hotspur in North London.
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An indirect free kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer). Unlike a direct free kick, a goal may not be scored directly from the kick. The law was derived from the Sheffield Rules that stated that no goal could be scored from a free kick.
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referee presides over a game of association football (soccer). The referee has "full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed" (Law 5), and the referee's decisions regarding facts connected with play are final, so far as
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Two assistant referees (previously known as linesmen) assist the referee in controlling an association football (soccer) match.

An assistant referee indicates matters to the referee (usually initially by raising his flag, but nowadays also by wireless communication
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Football is the name given to a number of different team sports. The most popular of these world-wide is association football (also known as soccer). The English word "football" is also applied to American football (also known as gridiron), Australian rules football, Canadian
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In rugby football, the offside rule prohibits players from gaining an advantage from being too far forward. The specifics of the rule differ between the two major codes.

Rugby Union

Offside rules in rugby union are particularly complex to the casual observer.
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Rugby football, often just "rugby", may refer to a number of sports descended from a common form of football developed at Rugby School in England, United Kingdom. Rugby union, rugby league, and, to a lesser extent, American football and Canadian football, are modern sports
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The Sheffield Rules were a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1857 and 1878. They were devised by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest, for use by the newly founded Sheffield F.C..
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