November 24, 2016

Holding and Offside Offence at the same time - Discussion of a situation from Champions League (Voting)

++ You will have noticed that the article's headline has changed. While we deemed this situation as a clear violation of the Laws of the Game, we have noticed that apparently this seems to be more up to interpretation than we thought. ++

++ We base(d) the solution "penalty kick" on a solution the IFAB submitted to the DFB at the end of July 2016, i.e. after the revision of the laws, for exactly this kind of scenario. As UEFA's and FIFA's guidelines for comparable situations seem to be in conflict with that, we have contacted the IFAB and hope for clarification from their side. ++

++ It all depends on one aspect: When does the offside offence start? ++

++ When we have evidence for either decision - penalty kick or offside - we inform you as soon as possible. ++

Our original and preliminary solution:

A situation from yesterday's Rostov vs Bayern Champions League match was slightly under the radar of the medial interest, but has a high relevance for refereeing and might even make Bayern launch protests against the match result. Reason enough to review it early.

The situation: Ribery is making a middle-high pass into the penalty targeted at Lewandowski, who is standing in a tight offside position. During the pass, he is clearly held and pushed by defending player Navas - in a way that makes referee Artur Soares Dias of Portugal point to the spot immediately to award Bayern a penalty kick.

However, he then recognizes the flag raised by his assistant referee 2 Paulo Santos Soares who well detected the tight offside position following a correct wait-and-see-technique.

Therefore, Soares changes his decision, raises his hand and gives an indirect free-kick for offside.

However, this is a violation of the Laws of the Game - to be precise: of Law 5.

Law 5 says: "The referee ...   punishes the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time."

At the end of July 2016 and upon request of the DFB, the IFAB clarified that a holding (direct free-kick) is more serious than an offside position (indirect free-kick) - specially if punishable by a yellow card - so that a penalty kick has to be awarded if the offence happens at the same time or before the offside position becomes punishable. (> document; question no.7).

The DFB claimed that they had asked the IFAB this:

"A player is standing in the opposite team's penalty area and is in an offside position. Shortly before the pass into the penalty area can reach him, he is pulled down by a defender. The offside position and holding offence therefore occur at the same time."

Literally translated, the IFAB allegedly replied this:

"Reasoning: In principle, the more serious offence has to be punished. And the holding (direct free-kick) is punished more seriously than an offside position (indirect free-kick), specially when the holding or any type of foul play requires a yellow card."

You can intuitively argue that Lewandowski was in an offside position seconds before the holding. But this does not matter, as a punishable offside offence requires becoming actively involved in play e.g. by interfering with an opponent which requires a certain ball proximity (the ball was "miles away" when the holding started). Either the holding happened before the offside offence or at the same time - depending on your view. In both cases, the penalty kick must be awarded.

For this reason, the referee should have taken note of his assistant referee's flag, waived it down and thanked him for his input. Nonetheless, he (and his team) should have awarded the penalty kick as originally assigned. 

The procedure done by the Portuguese referee team is, unfortunately, a violation of the laws influencing and changing a fact-based decision - at least based on the written Law 5 and the only precise, official guideline we currently have at hand. Against this background, Bayern could theoretically have chances to lodge a complaint against this situation resulting in a replay of the game.

Please have your say and also consider the arguments raised by users in form of comments! There are two polls. Please fill out both of them. At first please tell us what you believe SHOULD BE the right decision. Then, please tell us what you think IS the right decision based on the current laws.

Offside or Penalty - what decision would you ideally favour?

Offside - indirect free-kick for the defenders.
Penalty Kick for Holding.
survey tools
Which decision do you deem as correct and in line with the 2016/17 Laws of the Game?

Offside - indirect free-kick for the defenders.
Penalty Kick for Holding.


  1. Very good post. I totally agree. To be in offside position itself it is not offence.

  2. Law 5 only applies to when to offences at the same time that favours the same team. I e a player kicking a free kick to himself and picks up the ball with his hands or a mandatory yellow card for pulling that is also a DOGSO-situation. It cannot be applied in this case.

    But the correct decision is still penalty kick since the pulling occurs before.

    1. If two offences were to occur at the same time that favours different teams. The correct decision is always a drop ball.

    2. Where does that stand?

      1) DFB asked exactly this scenario (it is the Soares situation word-by-word) and the IFAB's solution was penalty kick (see post).

      2) In the same context, DFB also asked the following question:

      "At a penalty kick execution a defender enters the penalty area too early, at the same time the attacking player shooting the penalty deceives the goalkeeper in an unsporting manner."

      The IFAB's answer: "In terms of two simultaneously happening offences - and this also counts for offences in the context of penalty kick executions - the more serious offence is sanctioned. In this case, it is the unsporting behavior of the attacker, as it also it demands a caution."

      So, at least based on that, it seems to count for players of both teams - and nothing else is taught in Germany, at least.

    3. @ Freddy: Here's the LotG document, could you please quote the passage you mean?

    4. Freddy is still in 2015-2016.

  3. But if we look at the laws regarding offside:
    A player in an offside position[...] is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:
     interfering with an opponent by:
    • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action
    impacts on an opponent or
    • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an
    opponent to play the ball

    In my opinion one of those things happend before he was held.

    1. Which one? I don't think that either of them applies there.

    2. In this case, the opponent is unable to play the ball because he is busy holding Lewandowski...

  4. In my opinion offside is the right call. I think It occurred before the the foul happend. I can be wrong but offside feels more right the a penalty kick.

  5. Great text, it is a PK, primarily because of the procedure described above, but also because the holding/pushing took place before the offside offence. I remember this from one of earlier posts, probably one related to changes of the LoTG. Recently, I have had an argument with colleagues as got to I run into exactly the same situation, only the ball was passed from the opposite side... Somehow we tend to overlook those small, but important, pieces of information.

  6. OT

    UEFA Referees Committee has planned a meeting on 8 December. That's the day the last EL MD is played.

  7. OT

    KNVB has officially announced the promotion of Dennis Higler as FIFA referee starting from the next 01/01/17. Jan de Vries and Joost van Zuilen will be new FIFA assistant referees. The officials about to leave the international list are: Richard Liesveld, Angelo Boonman and Patrick Langkamp.
    If you have some news from your federation about the new FIFA list, please don't hesitate to inform us.

    1. Hi Chefren,
      From France, Francois Letexier will replace Fautrel (27 years old, one of youngest FIFA refs from Europe).
      AR Philippe Jeanne and Mickael Annonier (both Gautier's AR lol) will be out and replaced by Julien Pacelli (Millot AR) and Bertrand Jouannaud (Delerue AR).


  8. Hi,

    here you find a video with 3 similar situations and the UEFA/FIFA explanations to them.

    Offside Explained verdict:

    Based on the 3 previous clips we argue that the attacker is correctly ruled offside, the referees made a correct decision and followed the given UEFA guidelines.

    There are arguments that when we consider the changes to the Law (starting 01.06.2016) then as there seems to be a simultaneous offence then „the more serious offence” must be punished and a penalty kick should be awarded.

    We argue that this is not the case as the offside infringement happens before the foul is committed (as in the 2nd and 3rd situation in our video). The holding first starts after the ball has been played and a clear offence worthy of a penalty kick is committed as the ball is already nearing the players involved. For it to be a penalty kick then in such situation a clear offence should occur before the ball is played (or in some cases as the ball is played), because after the ball has been played the players can be considered as challenging for the ball.

    When you look at the actions of the attacker then he is in a positional duel with the defender. The attacker uses his body in a legal manner to block the path of defender and to win the duel with the defender. But as he is in an offside position then he is involved in active play and the offside offence occurs before the foul is committed.

    The Law does not always state clearly when an attacker can be penalised for offside. In some cases it happens when the attacker plays the ball, but in cases where the attacker is challening and opponent for the ball (as it happens in most cases when he is fouled) then it is in the opinion of the referee to judge when an offside offence occurs.

    When you add the non-written Law 18 (Common Sense) to it then it is the reason why UEFA and FIFA have clearly stated that the whole football community does not want a penalty given in favour of an attacker who is coming from an offside position and is challenging the defender for the ball.

    Hope that UEFA will give their verdict about this and that IFAB agrees in terms of that.

    1. ...You can find the UEFA/FIFA explanations to the 3 clips beneath the video in Vimeo.

    2. Thanks for the long answer and additional videos. Good that we have a debate on that.

      I am not entirely convinced by that either, though.

      What irritates me is this part: "´a clear offence worthy of a penalty kick is committed as the ball is already nearing the players involved." - but then they are still happening simultaneously, don't they? We have an offside offence (with the ball being nearby) and a holding which is worth of a penalty. If the IFAB's ruling is still up-to-date, then it should be a penalty.

      If I understood you correctly, then you consider the offside offence as punishable when the ball is still in the air and some metres away, as Lewandowski became actively involved in play already when physically interfering with the opponent.

      However, I remember many videos (e.g. Arsenal-Bayern, penalty Robben, possible offside interference by Lewandowski, was included in a past RAP) where attackers indeed did the same and the solution was usually "not challenging an opponent for the ball" as the ball was not close enough.

      This is the same here, in my view. In order to deem the offside as coming first, you have to consider Lewandowski becoming active already when the ball has just been passed and is still in the air and metres away. And here I simply don't agree due to the missing ball proximity.

      Apart from that, four points:

      1) To sum up the debate: It depends on whether you deem the offside as happening simultaneously or not. If simultaneously, the IFAB's solution - if still current and up-to-date - then PENALTY. If the offside became punishable before the holding - then OFFSIDE.

      2) I don't want to defend our solution / article and am open for different considerations. So thanks a lot.

      3) Common sense, Law 18 and "what the football community wants". Difficult topic. While I personally agree that it is not reasonable to enable a player in offside to get a penalty, I don't dare to say that the whole football community shares that. I know several refereeing colleagues who think differently.

      4) I could very well imagine that UEFA / FIFA might want offside there. Maybe the IFAB has a different view or even updated it in the meantime. We have contacted the IFAB and hope for clarification. In case, the post will be immediately changed.

    3. Hi,

      we cannot be sure about anything. The only things that we know is that we have guidelines by UEFA (those have not been updated any differently) and a wording of the new Law that is in conflict with common sense.

      Some comments and points to consider:

      - you misunderstood the part about the challenging. We understand the guidelines saying that the challenging starts at the moment when the ball is played and due to the fact that the ball goes exactly to their area then you consider the whole duration of the flight as a challenge. Challenge in these situations does not start when the ball reaches them (it does not need to be in playing distance for a challenge to occur). It starts when the ball is played and continues till the ball reaches their area.

      - "what the whole football community wants" does not mean that everybody feels the same. It means that the players, coaches, teams, fans etc in general on a neutral bases tend to feel that this unfair. This is why IFAB, FIFA and UEFA co-operate with all of them, to understand how they feel about the game and it's general needs and try to meet them when possible. ... "global football community in general wants" might sound better.

      - in the Arsenal-Bayern case it was just a fact that the attacker in an offside position was involved away from the ball and the defender whom he impeded had no actual chance to reach the ball. In general, offside would have felt more unfair. The penalty offence was later made against a player who was not offside.


    It's video situation from UEFA RAP courses 2016. If I am not mistaken, it is a UEFA recommendation/explanation that the right decision should be penalty.


    This is an German article about this toping, citing this blogpost.
    Urs Meier's opinion on it is:
    - offside and holding are not simultaneous, therefore it is irrelevant, which is more serious
    - offside normally happens before an offence, therefore the offside has to be punished
    - Protest is not possible, because the scene is evaluated correctly
    - a player in an offside position is out of play and can't be rewarded with a penalty
    - the Bayern captain would have had to raise a protest before restart.
    - the defender had to be booked anyway

    I am not convinced by that...

    1. I am specially not convinced since one of his main points is questioning the reliability of the document. If DFB passes such a document to all regional associations and says "this is what the IFAB wants", then Meier actually questions DFB's reliability.

      Specially the point you listed as the second one (offside normally happens before..) is simply wrong IMO (or rather was right 5-10 years ago).

      But we'll see. It is at least good to have multiple profound views. Which somehow show that the LotG revision is not clear to everybody which it actually should be.

    2. Well, I think they rather question the reliability of the source of the document - and that is somehow understandable as there is no indicator, that it is official.

      I was also surprised about the last two points. I did not know, this "playing under protest" thing was juridically relevant.
      And for the yellow card: It can't really be SPA, if it is offside...

      Also: What, if a player in an offside position is punched by his opponent (and the ball is somewhere else) - indirect free kick for the defenders according to Meier?

  11. This is an excellent discussion. However, IMO, the decision cannot be protested as it is not necessarily an error in Law. It is simply an interpretation.

    "At the same time" is a bit of an elusive phrase. In NA, most referees interpret this "at exactly the same time". In other parts, it appears that it means rather "in the same play". The latter is supported with IFAB's explanation when dealing with infractions at a PK.

    If we use the first definition, one could argue that the offside player challenged for the ball before the foul. If we use the second definition, we have no choice but to agree with Niclas.

    Either way, this is an "opinion of the referee" and might be a bit tough to stand up under protest.

  12. Incredible penalty missed by Mateu Lahoz in Spanish Liga in Osasuna-Atlético de Madrid: more than clear handball at the line goal (around minute 65)

    1. Yes. I don't know if he had a clear view or not, because if he had, then there is absolutely no reason to think that it was undeliberate. It was PK+RC for DOGSO. AR1 could not help, I think.

  13. Wrongly disallowed goal in Sociedad-Barca match...Big mistake.

    1. this situation in Valencia-Barcelona was called correct by the the Spanish FA Technical Committee of Referees:

      The video (and our comments below it) can be seen here:

  14. I can understand they backed Undiano right after a very poor match. There is a guideline that says something about the distance and he followed it. OK until now. However, two weeks ago there was a technical meeting and I hope they have changed that guideline, which in my view is completely wrong. You cannot give such a goal. Maybe there is some distance between the keeper and the player who is in offside. However, if the player has to JUMP to avoid being hit by the ball and then the keeper reacts late (if you watch the replay he doesn't go down until Suárez has jumped enough for him to see the ball) and there was no time for reaction (which there wasn't) then you must disallow the goal. First, because with that jump, the forward interferes with play. He does a deliberate act to change the outcome of a shoot which otherwise would have hit him. Disturbs the keeper by blocking his line of sight, which can be seen in those replays. And second, because almost everyone in Spain (including Barcelona fans) agreed it was offside. From former LaLiga referees to Barcelona's press. Although this of course is not that important, it may help you realice that something should be changed in the way you assess those situations.

    Getting back on topic, I don't see the resemblances between the situation in Real Sociedad - Barcelona and the one in Valencia - Barcelona. In the first one, no one is in offside position, so that is a crucial mistake. AR2 raises the flag when Real's number 7 plays the ball, and he wasn't in offside position.


  15. تعرف على احدث الخدمات التقنية من خلال مركز صيانة يونيون اير لصيانة كافة انواع الاجهزة الكهربائية فقط من خلال زيارة موقعنا الالكترونى :

  16. يمكنك الحصول علي افضل الخدمات حيث ان صيانة كاريير من افضل التوكيلات الخاصه التي تعمل علي اصلاح جميع انواع التكييفات تحت اشراف فريق عمل متخصص ومدرب علي ذلك وباقل الاسعار في مصر .


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