The offside rule in soccer, explained

As Ted Lasso told Trent Crimm when the British reporter asked the American coach if he could explain the offside rule on the second episode of the Apple TV show: “It’s not easy to explain, but you know it when you see it.” Well, we’ll try to explain the offside rule better than Supreme Court Potter Stewart’s attempt to define obscenity, the phrase Lasso was referring to.

In fact, Law 11 of the official rule book of international football is very simple:

But there are exceptions, footnotes and, sometimes, you don’t know it when you see it.

And why is this? not offside?

Now it starts to get a bit more complicated, as in order for a player to be out of the game, they must meet certain conditions. For example, he must be in his opponent’s half of the field, be in front of the ball when it is passed to him, and try to play the ball.

Let’s see how these look on a football field.

If an offside offense occurs, the referee awards a free kick to the opposing team at the place where the offside player was at the time the ball was played.

And there are several scenarios in which players cannot be called offside: a goal kick, a throw-in, a corner kick, or if the player receives the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball.

A matter of inches

In most cases when an offside is called, a player’s entire body is offside. But if it is close, it can come down to the body parts. What if an attacker’s arm is closer to the goal line than a defender’s leg? Is it an offside position? Let’s see.


Body parts that may be offside are the same that can touch the ball, so anything but wEAPONS counts.

Body parts that may be offside are the same that can touch the ball, so anything but wEAPONS counts.

So back to our question: No, if the attacker’s hand or arm is closer to the goal than the defender’s foot, there is no offside. But sometimes it can be very difficult to distinguish, even in slow motion playback.


In this case, the offside line is defender’s leg. At the time of passing, attacker’s hand it is the only part of his body in front of the defender’s foot. That’s how it is not an offside position.

In this case, the offside line is defender’s leg. At the time of passing, attacker’s hand it is the only part of his body in front of the defender’s foot. That’s how it is not an offside position.

In this case, the offside line is defender’s leg. At the time of passing, attacker’s hand it is the only part of his body in front of the defender’s foot. That’s how it is not an offside position.


But take a closer look at this other show:

Do you see how? the attacker’s left leg is it in front of the defender’s feet? It is not so easy to catch this offside. That’s why the referee has some help, from people and machines.

But take a closer look at this other show:

Do you see how? the attacker’s left leg is it in front of the defender’s feet? It is not so easy to catch this offside. That’s why the referee has some help, from people and machines.

judge

The main referee is the one who moves around the field. Normally, it is impossible to tell if a player was offside. So he needs help from two assistant referees who move along the sides of the pitch, one in each half. The assistant referees try to stay with the attackers as well, so they are in a good position to see if someone is offside.

The assistant referees communicate with the referee by moving their flags in different ways for a foul, a corner kick, a goal kick and, of course, an offside position.


The assistant referee indicates an offside position by moving the flag in two steps.

And then lowering it depending on the country

the offside player is:

On the near side

of the field

In the middle

of the field

On the far side

of the field

The assistant referee indicates an offside position by moving the flag in two steps.

And then lowering it depending on the country

the offside player is:

On the near side

of the field

In the middle

of the field

On the far side

of the field

But as we saw in the first match of this World Cup, sometimes the human eye cannot distinguish whether a player is in a permissible or impermissible position. To help right the wrongs, FIFA, the sport’s international governing body, introduced video assistant referees (VAR) at the 2018 World Cup, following trials in some less prominent competitions. A VAR monitors the video during each match from a control room in the stadium and notifies the on-field referee through his headset that a mistake may have been made. The umpire can then reverse a call, let the call stand, or stop play and watch the video replay. However, offside is only reviewed if there is a goal.

[What to know about video review at the World Cup]

In addition, FIFA announced this summer that this will be the first World Cup to use semi-automated offside technology as part of its video review system. The new technology uses 12 cameras mounted under the roof of the stadium to track the ball and each player 50 times per second to assist the referees. The ball also contains a sensor that sends data to the video operations room 500 times per second and alerts the VAR if a player takes the ball offside. The VAR will then manually check this call – with the help of an automatically generated offside line – before making a recommendation to the referee.

So don’t worry if you don’t catch every offside. Even in an event as big as the World Cup – with referees, dozens of cameras and multiple reviews – there will still be some doubt. Maybe actually shame it’s easier to know when you see it.

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