Can You Get A Yellow Card For Being Offside page

Can You Get A Yellow Card For Being Offside?

Last updated on December 1st, 2022

You may have seen some players who may constantly get called offside. For example, Morata had 3 goals ruled offside in a Champions League match against Barcelona!

This may make you wonder, would a player get booked for being constantly offside?

Can you get a yellow card for being offside?

When you are offside, the possession will be awarded to the opposing team. Since you are already penalised for committing this offence, it is unlikely that you will be given a yellow card for being offside.

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Here is a further explanation of this part of the Laws of the Game:

A yellow card is given for 8 different offences

According to the Laws of the Game, you will receive a yellow card for these 8 scenarios:

  1. Delaying the restart of play
  2. Dissent by word or action
  3. Entering, re-entering or deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission
  4. Failing to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a dropped ball, corner kick, free kick or throw-in
  5. Persistent offences (no specific number or pattern of offences constitutes “persistent”)
  6. Unsporting behaviour
  7. Entering the referee review area (RRA)
  8. Excessively using the ‘review’ (TV screen) signal

If you try to leave the pitch to ‘prevent an offside’, you will be cautioned as well!

The 5th scenario mentioned that if you commit persistent offences, you may receive a yellow card.

According to Law 11, you will commit an offside offence if you fulfil both criteria:

  1. Be in an offside position
  2. Become involved in active play

If you are just in an offside position, you will not be considered to have committed an offence.

However, the IFAB says that there are no specific number of pattern of offences which are deemed as ‘persistent’. As such, the IFAB is leaving it to the referee’s discretion to determine when a yellow card should be given.

Normally, this will be given to a player if he makes persistent hard tackles. Again, there is no ‘number’ for you to hit before the card is given. This is all up to the referee to decide.

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An offside call penalises the player by awarding possession to the defending team

When a player is called offside, he is actually penalising his team. If you are called offside, the possession will be given to your opponents via an indirect free kick.

If an offside offence occurs, the referee awards an indirect free kick where the offence occurred, including if it is in the player’s own half of the field of play.

Offside Law (IFAB)

As such, you are already being penalised for committing the offside offence. Since your team is already disadvantaged, there may not be a need for you to be booked.

It is still up to the referee to decide if you should be booked or not!

Referees may not give the yellow card for multiple offences

The referee will most likely not give a yellow card to the player, as it is not part of the spirit of the Game.

This can be found in Law 5:

Decisions will be made to the best of the referee’s ability according to the Laws of the Game and the spirit of the game and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.

The offside offence is not an extremely serious offence as it does not cause harm to another player. Moreover, you are already penalised as the possession has been transferred to your opponent.

As such, it does not really make sense for the referee to give you a yellow card for being offside!

You still can be booked for your actions after being called offside

It is possible for you to be booked after being called offside. However, this is due to the actions that you do after being called offside.

You will not be booked for committing the offside offence itself!

Here are 2 scenarios where this might occur:

#1 Arguing with the referee

When you get called offside, you may argue with the referee over the decision. This is usually over a close call that was made against you.

It can get really contentious once your body parts come into play!

When you argue with the referee, you are showing dissent to the referee.

Here is the definition of dissent according to the Laws of the Game:

Public disagreement (verbal and/or physical) with a match official’s decision;

If you ‘passionately disagree’ with the referee’s decision, you will receive a yellow card!

#2 Kicking the ball away after the referee stopped play

If you kick the ball away once the referee blows the whistle for offside, it is considered as delaying the restart of play.

Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by: kicking or carrying the ball away, or provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play


This usually occurs in 2 scenarios:

  1. The player is showing his frustration at the decision
  2. The player is attempting to delay the restart of play in order to waste time

When the player shows his frustration, it may be considered as dissent as well.

If you kick the ball away after the referee blows for an offside, you will be cautioned!

Robin van Persie vs Barcelona (Champions League 2010/11)

One of the more controversial decisions was Robin van Persie being sent off in the match between Arsenal and Barcelona in 2011.

The referee blew the whistle for offside. However, van Persie continued to play the ball and attempt a shot on goal. This was done just a few seconds after the whistle was blown.

van Persie was given his second yellow card for this offence, and he was sent off!

In van Persie’s defence, he claimed that he could not hear the whistle when he attempted the shot.

However, the referee must have deemed that he was either showing dissent or delaying the restart of play. As such, van Persie was given the yellow card.


It is very unlikely that you will receive a yellow card for committing an offside offence. The Laws of the Game may state that you will be booked for committing persistent offences.

However, you are already penalised for committing an offside offence since the possession is given to the opponent. As such, the referee should not book you for constantly being offside!

The only time you may receive a yellow card is for the actions that you perform after the whistle has been blown. The 2 actions that may lead to a yellow card include:

  1. Showing dissent over the referee’s decision
  2. Kicking the ball away after the referee stopped play

You can find out more about why we need the offside rule here.

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