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More from FIFA on the offside law interpretation

June 30, 2005
August 18, 2005 clarification (Can be penalized before touching the ball) 

June 30, 2005

"Law 11, which relates to offside, has not changed in essence. The competition will see the new interpretations of the law as approved by the IFAB at their meeting in February in Wales," explains Fernando Tresaco Gracia, Netherlands 2005 Referees Coordinator.

The text approved by the IFAB with regard to deciding whether or not a player is actively involved in play clarifies the three issues of interfering with play, interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in an offside position. The text says the following:

** Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate.

** Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.

** Gaining an advantage by being in an offside position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or crossbar or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.


"In essence, what it means is that if an attacking player is in an offside position, but not interfering with an opponent, the referee must wait until he touches the ball before penalising him for being offside. We want the referee’s assistant to wait a little longer before deciding if the player in the offside position is actively interfering with play," says Tresaco Gracia.

If the attacking player in an offside position is running towards the ball and touches it, only when contact with the ball has been made should the assistant raise his flag. If contact is not made, then play should continue.

"However, if a player’s position interferes with an opponent, preventing him from reaching or playing the ball, or results in impaired vision for a goalkeeper or defender, the referee need not wait until said player touches the ball before sanctioning the offence," he clarifies.
One of the missions for the referees at the FIFA World Youth Championship is to apply the new interpretation of Law 11.

The doubt has also been removed as to the question of whether or not a player is gaining an advantage from an offside position when a team-mate’s shot rebounds off an opponent and falls to a player in an offside position. In such instances, play must be stopped.

"We believe that with these clarifications, there will be much more uniformity in the application of a norm that has caused quite a lot of confusion. Now it’s much clearer," the Refereeing Coordinator says. "We’ve worked on these points with the referees and they seem very comfortable with them. We’ve had no complaints with respect to these instructions," he adds.

From these clarifications, it can now be seen that if an attacking player in an offside position is not interfering with an opponent, or in the line of sight of a goalkeeper, and not touching the ball, a foul is not committed. 

August 18, 2005  
IFAB clarifies the on-field application of "Law 11-Offside"

A working group meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), chaired by FIFA Vice-President and chairman of the Referees’ Committee Angel Maria Villar Llona, took place in Zurich on 11 August 2005 to provide clarification on the on-field application of Law 11, Decisions 1 and 2, of the Laws of the Game.

The wording of Law 11 and Decisions 1 and 2 taken by the IFAB during its meeting in the Vale of Glamorgan, Wales, on 26 February 2005 were not changed, nor was their spirit. However, the first on-field experiences of the application of these decisions indicated a need for clarification. For that purpose, the working group met and agreed on the following text as "advice on the application of Law 11, IFAB Decision 2":

"A player in an offside position may be penalised before playing or touching the ball if, in the opinion of the referee, no other team-mate in an onside position has the opportunity to play the ball.

"If an opponent becomes involved in the play and if, in the opinion of the referee, there is potential for physical contact, the player in the offside position shall be penalised for interfering with an opponent."


In addition, the IFAB also agreed on the following clarification with regard to the position where the game restarts following an offside offence (Law 11 – Infringements/Sanctions):

"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."

FIFA’s member associations were informed of the IFAB advice by circular on 17 August 2005 and are subsequently responsible for communicating these instructions to the referees and assistant referees within their associations. FIFA also reminded its associations of Art. 6 paragraph 1 of the FIFA Statutes, which clearly states: "Each member of FIFA shall play Association Football in compliance with the Laws of the Game issued by IFAB. Only IFAB may lay down and alter the Laws of the Game."