Offside – What You Need to Know

Watch this video to better understand offside:

USSF – Video Offside Position 

Offside Basics:

Key Considerations:

  • It is NOT an offense to be in an offside position.
  • You cannot be offside if you receive the ball directly from a goal kick.
  • You cannot be offside if you receive the ball directly from a corner kick.
  • You cannot be offside if you receive the ball directly from a throw in.

What is an offside position?

A player is in an offside position if they are in their opponents half of the field (determined by the half line), and they are closer to the goal line than the ball, and they are closer to the goal line than the second to last defender. All of these conditions must be met, to be in an offside position.

It is important to note that a player is NOT in an offside position if they are even with the half line (or “build out line” for 7v7 games), even with the ball, or even with the second to last defender. You do NOT consider the hands, or arms when determining offside, only parts of the players body that can be used to score a goal. Additionally, a player is not in an offside position while the ball is being played by their opponents. However, things can change quickly, as that same player could immediately be in an offside position if the ball is touched or played by a teammate.

Exceptions

Small Sided Games 7v7. With the introduction of the USSF Player Development Initiatives, we have a “build out line” that replaces the half line, when determining if a player is in an offside position. The “build out line” should be marked at an equal distance between the top of the penalty area and the half line. Therefore, a player positioned between the half line and the “build out line” is NOT in an offside position.

When do we penalize a player for an offside offense?

We penalize a player in an offside position the moment the ball is touched or played by a teammate, and the player in an offside position is deemed by the referee to be involved in active play, or deemed by the referee to gain an advantage by being in an offside position when a teammate touches or plays the ball.

Active play includes all of the following:

  • Interfering with play by playing or touching the ball that was touched or passed by a teammate.
  • Interfering with an opponent by preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision.
  • Challenging an opponent for the ball.
  • Clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him or her, when this action impacts on an opponent.
  • Making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.

Gains an advantage while in an offside position, and the ball is played or touched by a teammate includes all of the following:

  • A ball rebounding or deflecting off the goalpost, crossbar, match official, or an opponent.
  • A ball that is deliberately saved by an opponent.

What is a save?

When a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of their body except the hands or arms, unless the save is by a goalkeeper within the penalty area. Essentially, a goalie gets to be a goalie, and a field player can make a save, as long as they don’t commit a handling offense.

On Field Considerations, when and where to Penalize:

  • A player in an offside position may be penalized before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other teammate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball. It is important to be patient as a game official, and scan the field to make sure no other player in an onside position can become involved.
  • If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is the potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalized for interfering with the opponent.
  • The restart of the game shall be with an indirect free kick taken from the initial place where the player was adjudged to be in an offside position.

Resources

Law 11 – IFAB 2017/18

2017-18 IFAB Guidelines – Offside: page 192, and pages 195-201

IFAB Clarifies the on-field application of Law 11 – Offside

FIFA Memo – Offside: page 7 & 8

FIFA – Additional Notes Offside

USSF Power Point – Law 11 Offside