What is offside in football?

Football fans know the offside rule inside out. But, for those who watch games only occasionally, this game situation can quickly become confusing. Attempt to explain.

The first thing to know is that the offside rule aims to avoid too easy or even ridiculous goalscoring opportunities. Without it, you might, for example, see three or four players from the same team camp in front of their opponents’ goals and wait for a ball to reach them.

The offside rule is defined by Law 11 of football which says a player is in an offside position if ” any part of his head, trunk or legs is in the opponents’ half of the pitch (not including the middle line) and closer to the opponents’ goal line than the ball and the penultimate opponent “. We grant you, it’s a bit confusing.

Concretely, a player does not have the right to receive a pass from one of his teammates if, on the field, he is between the last defender and the goalkeeper of the opposing team.

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The offside position is determined when his teammate plays or touches the ball. A player will therefore be declared offside if only one opponent – ​​usually the goalkeeper – is in front of him or at his height when his teammate gives him the pass.

Conversely, a player is not in an offside position if he is exactly at the same height as his penultimate opponent when the pass is made to him. In summary: in order not to be caught by the patrol, a player must therefore have at least two opponents – most often the goalkeeper and another player – between him and the opposing goal when a pass is addressed to him.

But there are subtleties. The only offside position is not a foul. Indeed, the player is sanctioned only when he takes an active part in the game, that is to say if he plays the ball, interferes with an opponent or takes advantage of his position. If a player is in an offside position but is playing crap rather than participating in the game, the referee will have nothing to blame him for.

If an offside is evident, the assistant referees, located on either side of the field, raise their flag to signal the problem. The central referee then whistles for a stoppage of play and awards the opposing team an indirect free kick.

Notable exception: in certain situations, a player in an offside position is not sanctioned. For example if he receives the ball directly during a touch or from an opponent. In these cases, the game continues.

There you go, you know everything…

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