Having gone through many simple laws of the game where the amateur player may have problems with, we will spend the next few editions on the most controversial law in football - Offside.
Before we go on with the first part of this "Offside" series, let's all be clear with the definition of being in an offside position from lawbook:
A player is in an offside position if:
- he is nearer to his opponent's goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent
A player is not in an offside position if:
- he is in his own half of the field of play or
- he is level with the second last opponent or
- he is level with the last two opponents
It is important here to note that it is NOT an offence in itself to be in an offside position. The lawbook then further clarifies on the situation where it becomes an offence:
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
- intefering with play or
- interfering with an opponent or
- gaining an advantage by being in that position
Let's now move on and look at the first scenario where the Offside law is often misinterpreted.
Situation and Complication:
I have witnessed this situation more than once during my playing time as an amateur footballer. As a defender tries to clear the ball away, the ball rebounds off an opponent and falls to the opponent's teammate who is in an offside position. Should he be penalized for "Offside"?
Yes. The attacker should be penalized for being in an offside position. However, for more than once, I have witnessed the referee wave play on and explain that, "There is no offside because the pass was not made intentionally".
This is one of the most common misinterpretation of the Offside law. If you read the law stated above again, you will see that it says, "...A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team..."
As such, regardless of whether the pass to him was intentional or not, as long as he was offside when the ball was contacted by one of his team, he should be penalized.
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