Non League Daily

You are the Ref: The new guidance on the offside law

Former Premier League referee Keith Hackett looks at the latest guidance given to everyone in football about the offside law.

OFFSIDE – a new interpretation that is aimed to provide additional guidance with specific relevance to the practical interpretation of interfering with an opponent.

The international FA Board (IFAB) Technical Sub Committee prior to the start of our new season has decided to issue new guidelines to match officials with regard to the interpretation of Law 11 OFFSIDE and interfering with an opponentkh

The additional guidance states

A player in an offside position shall be penalized if he:

"Clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent"


"Makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball"

I do think that the IFAB Technical sub committee should be applauded for providing officials with these guidelines, which should lead to a greater consistency of interpretation.

It is my belief however that the change will lead to an increase in the number of goals disallowed whilst Managers/Coaches and players become familiar with these changes.

In order to further clarify the situation the IFAB have provided match officials with useful definitions, which is another positive step towards consistency.

"`Clearly attempts` - this wording is designed to prevent a player in an offside position who runs towards the ball from quite a distance being penalized (unless he gets close to the ball.)"

"`Close` is important so that a player in an offside position is not penalized when the ball goes clearly over his head or clearly in front of him"

"`Impact` applies to an opponent’s ability (or potential) to play the ball and will include situations where an opponents movement to play the ball is delayed, hindered or prevented by the offside player"

However, just because someone is in an offside position it does not always mean that they are having an impact e.g.

"If the ball is on the right hand side of the field and an `offside` player in the centre of the field moves into a new attacking position he is not penalized unless this action affects an opponents ability to play the ball"

"Where a player tries to play the ball as it is going into the goal without affecting an opponent, or situations where there is no opposition player near, he should not be penalized"

The Assistant Referees must go through a one-two-three decision making process to ensure the correct decision is made.

1. Attacking player in offside position – clear attempt to play the ball

2. Attacking player close to the ball

3. Impact on the opponent

All three of these elements must be satisfied before the Assistant indicates OFFSIDE.

General principles

"Judgment should be based on the physical evidence i.e. movement and actions of the player in an offside position!


"Attacking players who clearly `benefit` from being in an offside position by clearly impacting on an opponent should be penalized"

Remember the Law has not changed just this advice on one aspect of the Offside Law regarding interfering with an opponent.

With the changes to the offside law interpretation on interfering with an opponent it will offsidetake a few weeks for all the stakeholders in the game to get use to its practical application. The Assistant referees must hit the ground running with regard to this change and i have every confidence that they will deliver.

It is likely that the first challenge on match officials will be when the media start to do a forensic analysis on some decisions.

This will certainly help the stakeholders in the game to understand this change.

Before closing it is evident that The Football Association has taken the decision to improve the image of the game by instructing match officials to take a much firmer approach to the behaviour of the occupants of the Technical area.

So you Managers/Coaches/Kit men you need to be on your best behaviour. You might get a verbal warning for that first offence, the second will see you dispatched to the stands.


Article: Keith Hackett (


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