Week #14 & 15 May 29 - June 8


Offside Position by Attackers on Free Kicks

In recent matches we have seen a resurgence in the tactic of putting attackers in, around or behind the defensive wall on the taking of free kicks. Many times these attackers are in an offside position before and after the free kick is taken which creates a problem for the assistant referee and referee. If a goal is scored directly from the free kick with an attacker in an offside position a decision has to be made. To negate a goal scored directly, the offside - line of vision/interfering with an opponent, needs to be clear and have an impact.

We have covered this topic previously here (FK-Players in Offside Position), which you should review because the instructions given there are still current and valid. You are expected to act accordingly.

In this report we have chosen 5 free kicks with attackers in various offside positions and offer guidance on how both the assistant referee and referee should act. This guidance should be part of your pre-game instructions as communication is vital.

Due to the PRO Assistant Referee training camp the first weekend in June and that there were no games in MLS last week there was no report for those weeks. However, we make up for it today, with an interpretation of offside in the Women’s World Cup and we offer the candidates for Call of the Week 14 and 15, because there are some medals to hand out for excellent PRO assistant refereemanship.

General Guidance for Attackers in Offside Position on Free Kicks

Assistant Referees

  • There are NO automatic offside flags on free kicks. Offside position needs to become an offside offence.

    • You will always wait for the result of the free kick or an actual offside offence to occur before raising the flag for offside.

    • Do not handcuff the referee with a raised flag if the offside is not clear/evident

      • Line of vision likely needs communication with the referee

      • Interfering with opponent may need communication with the referee

  • You only need to let the referee know about offside position attackers prior to the free kick when

    • they are in a blatant offside position

      • blatant implies that there is a very low likelihood that the attacker will be able to get onside before the free kick is taken.

      • an attacker that can “step back” to an onside position just prior to the free kick is not in a blatant offside position

    • there are multiple attackers forming a “wall” in offside position

    • the attackers are central and close to the goalkeeper

Referees

  • Attempt to prevent blatant offside positioned attackers from being in that position

    • Warn the attackers that you may have to call them for an offside offence

    • Players run the risk of being punished for offside if they remain

    • Do not tell the attackers that you will call them offside if they remain

      • They might not commit an offside offence

  • Be more aware of Line of Vision and Interfering with the goalkeeper’s ability to make a save the closer the attackers are to the goal and where they are located compared to the shot.

  • If offside is given, the action of that attacker should have clear impact on the opponent

Attacker in a blatant offside position

Is this a situation where the AR should warn the referee about a blatantly offside positioned attacker?
Yes, he is near the top of the goal area, some 5-6 yards from the second last opponent

When should the AR give this information to the referee?
Once the defensive wall is moved into position, but before the actual kick is taken. Ideally before the referee has taken up their preferred position for the free kick.

Is this situation an offside offense?
Yes, the best decision here would be offside.

When should the flag go up?
Since the offside positioned attacker becomes part of active play by jumping within the block of players where the ball was landing, we should raise the flag as the ball reaches this area of congestion.

Group of Attackers in the Wall

Is this a situation where the AR should warn the referee about a blatantly offside positioned attacker?
No.  The offside positioned attackers are close enough that they could possibly retreat into an onside position before the kick is taken

When should the AR give this information to the referee?
No information needs to be given about offside positioned attackers by the AR.

Is this situation an offside offense?
Yes, the best decision would be offside for interfering with an opponent, specifically being in the goalkeeper’s line of vision, which does have an impact on the goalkeeper’s ability to make the save. The offside positioned attackers are lined up centrally between the penalty spot and the goal area, which is too close to the goalkeeper to be considered not to have had an impact.

When should the flag go up?
The flag should go up once the ball has entered the goal.   Not automatically when the ball is struck. The clue here is that the offside positioned attackers duck when the ball is flying past.  Does this action occur because they don’t wish to be struck by the free kick?  The combination of this action, the position of the offside positioned attackers (central) and where the ball travels into the goal; should make the AR “smell” offside.  

Single Attacker in the Wall

Is this a situation where the AR should warn the referee about a blatantly offside positioned attacker
No.  The offside positioned attacker could possibly retreat into an onside position before the kick is taken

When should the AR give this information to the referee?
No information needs to be given about the offside positioned attacker by the AR.

Is this situation an offside offense?
No, the best decision would be to allow the goal.

What makes this decision different to the FCB v SEV decision previously shown:

FCB vs SEV

  • Multiple offside positioned attackers

  • Flight of ball goes close to these offside positioned attackers

  • Noticeable action by the offside positioned attackers

  • The offside positioned attackers are close - 10-11 yards from the goalkeeper

SPR v CLT

  • Single offside positioned attacker (less likely to have impact on opponent)

  • Flight of the ball is over the offside positioned attacker vs reasonably close to FCB v SEV

  • Offside positioned attacker is stationary (less likely to have an impact)

  • The offside positioned attacker is far - 17-18 yards from the goalkeeper (less likely to have an impact from that distance)

Two Attackers in the Wall

Is this a situation where the AR should warn the referee about a blatantly offside positioned attacker.
Yes, they are 3-4 yards behind the second to last defender and are not likely to get onside before the free kick is taken.

When should the AR give this information to the referee?
Once the defensive wall is moved into position, but before the actual kick is taken. Ideally before the referee has taken up their preferred position for the free kick

Is this situation an offside offense?
Yes, the best decision would be offside for interfering with an opponent. Not only does the attacker’s position have an impact on the goalkeeper’s line of vision and ability to make the save, he also has to make a motion to get out of the way of the ball that comes very close to him. The offside positioned attackers are lined up centrally between the penalty spot and the goal area and are close to the goalkeeper.

Two Attackers in the Wall

Is this a situation where the AR should warn the referee about a blatantly offside positioned attacker
No.  The offside positioned attacker could possibly retreat into an onside position before the kick is taken

When should the AR give this information to the referee?
No information needs to be given about the offside positioned attacker by the AR.

Is this situation an offside offense?
No, the best decision would be to allow the goal. The attacker is not interfering with the vision of the keeper and the trajectory of the ball is not near that attacker.

Not Interfering with an Opponent (Women’s World Cup)

In keeping with the determination of “impact or not”, we look at the following clip from the Women’s World Cup.  
The AR sees that the Australian attacker is in an offside position.  The only remaining question is that of whether she becomes involved with active play or not.  

  • There are two Brazil defenders in this situation, the first goes to the ball and deliberately heads it (albeit not as intended).  The Australian attacker is not close to her, and not in her sight line, does not challenge for the ball, so no issues here.  

  • The second Brazil defender goes exactly where she wants to, goal side of the attacker, and can do so unimpeded.  

The assistant referee in this clip does use VAR delay, so the situation can be corrected.  However, the goal is to get these decisions correct on the field, and save everyone the time for an on-field review. This is not offside.

Winner - MLS Call of the Week #13 - Ian Anderson

Ian Anderson is the lucky 13 winner

Ian Anderson is the lucky 13 winner

MLS Call of the Week #14

Choice number one is a bit unusual one as it recognizes an AR assisting on a handball decision in the penalty area. Phillipe Briere gives the referee information that results in a correct penalty.
Choice number two is Nick Uranga, with a flag up decision to correctly negate a goal.

Phillipe Briere

Nick Uranga

Who had Call of the Week #14?
Phillipe Briere - Montreal v Orlando
Nick Uranga - Portland v Los Angeles Football Club

MLS Call of the Week #15

A very good decision from Ben Hall-Volpenhein results in a goal for NY Football Club when he correctly keeps his flag down with one attacker in offside position who did not interfere while the scorer was onside.
Nick Uranga features for a second week in a row this time with a good no flag decision on a Montreal goal.

Ben Hall-Volpenhein

Nick Uranga

Who had Call of the Week #15?
Ben Hall-Volpenhein - NY Football Club v FC Cincinnati
Nick Uranga - Montreal v Seattle