September 5, 2014

Offside - Gaining an advantage by being in that position

"Gaining an advantage by being in that position" is one of three main criteria that determine whether an offside position, which is not punishable in itself, becomes active and therefore punishable.


Since July 2013, the following wording applies:

A player is “gaining an advantage by being in that position" means playing a ball
i)  that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position
ii)  that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage.

Reading this wording carefully, some things have to be clarified and will be in the centre of this post:

1. What is a deliberate save in the sense of Law 11?
2. What is a deflection in the sense of Law 11?
3. When is an opposite player deliberately playing the ball in the sense of Law 11?

But before coming to these special cases, the following clip shows a relatively easy cases of a ball rebounding to a player in an offside position off the goalpost/crossbar - compared to the previous wording of Law 11, that is nothing new.


I. REBOUND OFF THE GOALPOST/CROSSBAR

Players, who initially are in an offside position and receive the ball as a rebound off the goalpost or crossbar, are considered to have gained an advantage by being in that offside position.


CLIP 1 - Rebound off the goalpost/crossbar



Interpretation:
The ball is headed by an attacking player and rebounds from the goalpost to another attacker, who has been in an offside position at the moment when the ball was played. By touching the ball, he becomes involved in active play by interfering with it. The assistant referee correctly raises his flag for offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE


II. REBOUND OFF AN OPPONENT (still to come)

The ball rebounds off an opponent when...

a) the defending player is stationary and
b) the ball returns to the direction it came from

As this part of the Law is rather rarely happening in the reality of the game, I have not found any suitable video example. As soon as I find one, you will find it uploaded here.

Now, more challenging explanations and clips follow.


III. DELIBERATE SAVE

Deliberate saves are characterized by a deliberate act of the defender to save a (probable) goal from being scored by a defending action.
Players, who initially are in an offside position and receive the ball from a player deliberately saving the ball, should be penalized for offside offence as they are considered to have gained an advantage.

Deliberate saves...

a) happen when defenders deliberately save a goal from being scored
b) can be made by every defending player (!) 
c) are often made by goalkeepers on the goalline
d) are often made to block strong and dangerous shots on goal 

A ‘save’ is when a player stops a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of his body except his hands (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area).

CLIP 2 - Deliberate save by the goalkeeper



Interpretation:
The ball, coming from a strong header, rebounds off the goalkeeper who made a deliberate save to save a goal from being scored. An attacking player, who has initially been in an offside position at the moment of the header, is gaining an advantage by being in that position when scoring the goal. The goal is correctly disallowed by the perfectly positioned assistant referee - play must be re-started with an indirect free-kick.

Keep in mind: It does not have to be the goalkeeper who is making a deliberate save. Every defending player on the field of play can deliberately save a goal from being scored, as the following clip illustrates!

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 3 - Deliberate save by a player


Interpretation:
After a free-kick, blue attacker #25 makes a dangerous and strong shot on the empty goal (considering the goalkeeper not being on the goalline). However, the ball does not reach the goal as it is deliberately saved by white-blue defender #14. His action is clearly targeted at saving a goal from being scored. Instead of reaching the goal, the ball is deflected to attacking player #7, who has initially been in an offside position at the moment of the shot. Therefore, he must be deemed to have gained an advantage by being in that position and the goal is correctly disallowed for offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 4 - Deliberate save by a player

This was the certainly most complex offside situation of the whole World Cup competition. If you understand this clip, you are good.


Interpretation:
A forceful and well-placed shot by an orange attacker would have definitely reached the goal if white defender #17 had not saved it on the goalline. His action must be considered as a deliberate save (00:18). The ball is deflected from his save and hits the crossbar (00:19), off which it rebounds and goes into the direction of another attacker #3. At the moment of the shot on goal, #3 has been in an offside position, as he has been closer to the goalline than the 2nd last opponent. 
Attacker #3 is first challenging an opponent for the ball (00:20 - 00:21) and then even interfering with play (00:23). As the deliberate save and the rebound off the crossbar do not disable the punishability of the offside position and made #3 gain an advantage by being in that position, play must be stopped for offside offence.

In the concrete case, the assistant referee probably did not lack in interpreting the situation, but just did not freeze his visual image at the moment of the shot on goal and thus did not consider #3 being the 2nd last defender and additionally fell a victim to the so-called flash-lag effect.

This example shows that information, interpretation and the decision-taking process stay irrelevant as long as the perceptual judgement is wrong.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE 


IV. DELIBERATE PLAY

Players being in an offside position and receiving the ball from opponents, who have deliberately played the ball, are not considered to have gained an advantage so that there is no offside offence anymore. It is a deliberate act by the defender.

A ball is deemed to have been deliberately played...

a) if the defender makes a clear movement towards the ball
b) even if the ball is unsuccessfully played - the quality does not matter, the intention counts!

CLIP 5 - Deliberate Play


Interpretation:
At the moment when a long volley pass is played, an attacking player is in an offside position. However, he receives the ball from a defender deliberately playing the ball with an unsuccessful header and is therefore not considered to have gained an advantage. Play must be allowed to go on as there is no offside offence anymore.
This clip also illustrates that the quality of the play does not matter, the movement towards the ball and clearly deliberate act are enough to consider this as a deliberate play.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE 

CLIP 6 - Deliberate Play


Interpretation:
At the moment of a lob into the penalty area, an attacker, who later receives the ball from a defender deliberately playing the ball with a header, is in an offside position.
Given the deliberate act by the defender, he should not be deemed to have gained an advantage by being in that position. He is incorrectly flagged for offside. Play should be allowed to continue as there is no offside offence.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE  

CLIP 7 - Deliberate Play


Interpretation:
At the moment of a pass, an attacker is in an offside position. However, he receives the ball from a defender deliberately playing the ball. It does not matter that his clearance is unsuccessful!
Play should be allowed to continue as there is no offside offence.

Solution: NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE  


DELIBERATE SAVE OR DELIBERATE PLAY?

In many cases, attackers can receive the ball from defenders who deliberately played the ball but equally saved a goal from being scored. Recapulating the consequences of deliberate play and deliberate saves, there is an asymmetry:

Receiving the ball from a deliberate save = OFFSIDE OFFENCE
Receiving the ball from a deliberate play = NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE

Law 11 clarifies the consequence if players deliberately save a goal from being scored by deliberately playing the ball:

"A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent, who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save), is not considered to have gained an advantage."

The law explicitly highlights that deliberate saves are exempted from the consequences of deliberate play. The deliberate save is more relevant than the deliberate play in the sense of Law 11, which is absolutely logical, as most saves happen by a) moving towards the ball and b) deliberately playing it. It is thus completely irrelevant how a deliberate save is made, as long as the action does not infringe the Laws of the Game (what e.g. a deliberate handball would do).


Therefore, OFFSIDE OFFENCE is the correct consequence of deliberate saves made by players deliberately playing the ball. A clip that was discussed in most national associations illustrates that:

CLIP 8 - Deliberate Save & Deliberate Play


Interpretation:
Please imagine that the defender on the goalline cleared the ball with his head and not with his hands!
The goalkeeper is out of the goal and a lob is very likely entering the goal. A defending player actually deliberately plays the ball after clearly moving towards it. At the same time, he however deliberately saves a goal from being scored by this deliberate action. Therefore, the attacking player must be considered to have gained an advantage by initially being in an offside position - it is irrelevant how the save was made. If the defender had used his head and not his hands, play should have been stopped for offside offence. The same clip is discussed in the post about interfering with an opponent as well.


DEFLECTION

Contrary to deliberate saves and deliberate play, a deflection involves no deliberate act by the player.

A ball is considered to be deflected by a player when it changes its direction and the player...

a) does not (!) clearly move towards the ball
b) finds the ball coming against him (unexpectedly) and instinctively attempts to play it
c) creates an obstacle (e.g. at free-kicks or shots)

CLIP 9 - Deflection


Interpretation: 
At the moment when an attacking player plays the ball, one of his teammates is in an offside position. He receives the ball from a defender who deflects the ball. It should be deemed as a deflection as the ball significantly changes its direction and the defender, finding the ball coming against him, does not move towards the ball but creates an obstacle. Play is correctly stopped for offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE  

CLIP 10 - Deflection


Interpretation:
A high pass into the penalty area is deflected by a defender who creates an obstacle. An attacker, who has initially been in an offside position, is then challenging the goalkeeper for the ball and guilty of offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE   

CLIP 11 - Deflection


Interpretation:
A ball is deflected by a defender and reaches an attacker who has initially been in an offside position. The goal is correctly disallowed for offside offence.

Solution: OFFSIDE OFFENCE   

CLIP 12 - Deflection


Interpretation:
The attacker, who scores a goal, has not been in an offside position at the moment of the pass from the left side, but is incorrectly adjudged to be in an offside position. For discussion purpose, we can imagine that he was in an offside position though.
In such a scenario, the pass would be deflected by defending player #2 and the goal-scorer would gain an advantage by being in the (fictive) offside position.  

The ball is deflected and not deliberately played considering that the defender a) does not clearly move towards the ball and b) finds the ball coming against him (unexpectedly) and instinctively attempts to play it. This cannot be considered as a deliberate act from our point of view. The border between a clear movement and an instinctive attempt to play the ball is however relatively fluid in this case which makes the decision difficult for assistant referees. If you consider the defending player's movement as more than instinctive, i.e. as deliberate, you should rather not raise your flag because the player would be rather deliberately playing the ball in this case. It depends on your interpretation! There is not always black-and-white.

In our scenario, the goal should be disallowed for offside offence and play re-started accordingly - in the real situation, the goal should have stood of course as there was no offside position. While for the defender this ball came totally unexpected, same goes for the assistant referee, which maybe made him be confused about the attacker's position. You should be reminded on the old motto "Always expect the unexpected".

Solution: RATHER AN OFFSIDE OFFENCE   


QUIZ-CLIP:  DELIBERATE PLAY VS DEFLECTION

The borderline between considering an action of a defender either as deliberately playing or as deflecting the ball is fluid at times. While deliberate play involves a clear movement towards the ball, deflections are characterized by no clear movement towards the ball and an instinctive reaction to a suddenly and maybe unexpectedly coming ball.
When identifying the difference between both cases, you should pay most attention to the question:

"Was it a deliberate and planned act or was it rather an instinctive attempt to play the ball by the defender?"


What do you think?  

Deliberate Play or Deflection?
Deliberate Play = NO OFFSIDE OFFENCE
Deflection = OFFSIDE OFFENCE

Poll Maker


SOLUTION

CHECKLIST

This post will stay dynamic, subject to changes, adaptions and additional videos. So you might benefit from having a look into it from time to time! 

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