The Offside Rule Explained


The offside rule in football is still confusing to many viewers. One of the world’s biggest sports, it only makes sense to better understand the rules of football before watching a match – or playing the game itself.

A few pointers and rules that will help you further understand the offside rule are:

  • If a player is closest to his or her opponent’s goal line than the ball and the second last opponent, they’re offside.

This is a rather basic explanation, and it’s one that everyone should understand.

When a Player is Not Offside

It’s just as important to understand the requirements of a player being offside as it is knowing when a player is not in the offside position. After all, a player is either onside or offside – not both.

A player is not in the offside position when:

  • Players are in their own half of the field – only the opponent’s half.
  • The player is level with the last two opponents or the second last opponent.

There is also no offense offside which can be overlooked during play. These are times when the offside rule is overruled and gameplay is allowed to continue as normal. No offense is granted if the player receives the ball from a:

  • Corner kick
  • Throw-in
  • Goal kick

In all three of these scenarios, the player would not be considered offside, and gameplay would be allowed to proceed.

Essentially, if the player receives the ball from a play, gameplay was stopped and the player was allowed to put the ball back into action, it’s allowed under official rules and the play would not be whistled as an offside.

What Happens When a Player is Offside?

A player that is offside will lose an important opportunity for his or her team. An offside play will result in the referee granting the opposing team a free kick. The free kick will occur at the same place that the original infringing play occurred – something to think about before going offside.

It’s important to note that many referees take harsh criticism from fans that believe offside didn’t occur on a play.

The issue is not with the ref in all circumstances. Angles and line of sight issues are the most common reason for a blatant, offside mishap that is called or not called in some circumstances. While refs have gotten better at properly positioning themselves parallel with the goal line, even the slightest angle can cause confusion and erroneous calls.

Offside, But Not Offside

A player can be offside, but he may not be considered offending the offside rule. This confusion is what causes many viewers to misunderstand offside calls. When it comes to football, or soccer as many call it, a player has the right to be offside on a play and not be called offside.

A player can only be called offside if they’re involved in the play.

The key determining factor is if the offside player is allowing his team to gain an unfair advantage on the play. If the ball is not played by the offending player or a teammate, or the player is not involved in an active play, there will be no offside call on the play.

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