by John Puglisi, NISOA Vice President, NISOA National clinician and NISOA local assessor.
During last night’s chapter business meeting/clinic, we discussed the three elements the Assistant Referee must consider before raising the flag to indicate an offside infraction. The goal of the clinic was to increase the consistency of offside decision making based on the common language and elements of Rule 11. In summary, in order for there to be an offside offense, the attacking player in an offside position must be:
- Interfering with play (defined as playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate) or;
- Interfering with an opponent (defined as preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or challenging an opponent for the ball) or;
- Gaining an advantage by being in that position (defined as playing a ball that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent or playing a ball that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent).
There was quite a bit of discussion about the “quick flag” for indicating an offside offense prior to the attacking player interfering with play as defined above. The following graphics (reference the FIFA Laws of the Game 2013-2014 edition) show versions of a similar play and how the AR’s decision should be made.
Please note the phrase “in the opinion of the referee” in this decision. Since opinions can vary quite a bit depending on the referee and assistant referee’s experience or angle of view, I expect this situation will not be dealt with consistently. In the diagram above, I suggest that the referee team wait to penalize the offside offense until the ball is played. However, if there was the potential for physical contact to occur (not shown in this case) between a defender and the attacker, the attacking player is considered to be interfering with an opponent and should be penalized immediately (before playing the ball).
In this instance, a “quick flag” would lead to an incorrect decision. In both situations, the referee and the assistant referee must read the play, observe the facts and make their decision accordingly.
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