Last updated on December 1st, 2022
The offside rule is one that can confuse many fans of this beautiful game. There are some scenarios where it is obvious that the player is offside.
However, there are some that aren’t so clear cut!
Here are some interesting scenarios that may occur during a football match, and let’s see how the offside rule can be applied:
- 1 Can you be offside if the ball comes off a defender?
- 2 Can you be offside from a deflection?
- 3 Can you be offside from a backwards pass?
- 4 Can you be offside from a header?
- 5 Can you be offside in the 6-yard box?
- 6 Can you be offside from a cutback or a square ball?
- 7 Can you be offside from an own goal?
- 8 Can you be offside from your own penalty?
- 9 Can you be offside from a drop ball?
- 10 Can you be offside from a goalkeeper’s drop kick?
- 11 Conclusion
Can you be offside if the ball comes off a defender?
A player will not be called offside if the defender deliberately played the ball, even if the attacking player was in an offside position. The player will only be called offside if the defender performs a deliberate save to stop the ball from crossing the line.
This is mentioned in Law 11 of the Laws of the Game:
A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball, including by deliberate handball, is not considered to have gained an advantage, unless it was a deliberate save by any opponent.IFAB
This means that if a defender attempts to play the ball but fails, you will not be seen to have gained an advantage.
This is different from how you will still be considered as offside from a rebound or goalkeeper save.
The IFAB also defines a deliberate save:
A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).IFAB
The definition of a deliberate save is rather controversial and it really depends on the discretion of the referee.
Here are some examples of how this rule is being put in place:
#1 Kim Young-Gwon vs Germany (World Cup 2018)
In this World Cup match between South Korea and Germany, South Korea scored an unexpected goal, which was initially ruled as offside.
However, after the referee looked at the replay on VAR, he decided to award the goal to South Korea!
During the scramble from the corner which led to the goal, Toni Kroos was attempting to clear the ball. However, the ball eventually landed to Kim Young-Gwon, who was originally in an offside position.
Since Kroos was the last person to have touched the ball before it went to Kim, Kim Young-Gwon was not called offside even though he was in an offside position!
#2 Jordan Hamilton vs New England Revolution (MLS 2019)
Jordan Hamilton was awarded this goal even though his teammate, Jay Chapman, was in an offside position during the build-up play.
If you’re wondering why Canadian teams like Toronto FC are playing in the MLS, there’s actually some historical reasons which led to this.
During this sequence of play, here’s what happened:
- Ayo Akinola (TFC) attempted a long pass to Jay Chapman
- Antonio Mlinar Delamea (a defender from NER) tried to intercept the ball and gave it a slight touch
- Chapman was in an offside position, but he was not called offside
The reason why Chapman wasn’t offside was that Delamea made a deliberate play to touch the ball. As such, Chapman was not considered to have an advantage, even though he was in an offside position!
Teams in MLS play in the CONCACAF Champions League and not in the UEFA Champions League, and you can find out more about this here.
#3 Kylian Mbappe vs Spain (UEFA Nations League 2021)
In the 2021 UEFA Nations League final match between Spain and France, Kylian Mbappe scored the winner in a controversial fashion.
While he was in an offside position, Eric Garcia was deemed to have made a deliberate play even though he only touched the ball slightly.
You can find out more about this scenario in this video here:
Due to this play at the ball, Garcia played Mbappe onside, and he eventually scored the winner!
Can you be offside from a deflection?
If the ball is deemed to have been deflected off the opponent by accident, you will be called offside if you were in an offside position. However, if the defender is considered as deliberately playing the ball, then you will not be called offside.
This can be very controversial at times, at it really depends on how the referee determines if the player deliberately played the ball or not.
The same argument can be made when determining if a player scored via a deflection, or if it should be considered as an own goal!
If the referee decides that the player deliberately attempted to play the ball, then you will not be called offside.
However, if the ball just deflected off the player by accident, you will be called offside!
#1 Italy vs Paraguay (2010 World Cup)
When Italy was attacking in this World Cup match, the ball deflected off one of the Paraguayan defender’s heads!
From the video, you can see that this deflection was purely accidental. Since Vincenzo Iaquinta was originally in an offside position when the ball was played, he was rightfully called offside!
Can you be offside from a backwards pass?
Even if you were in an offside position, you will not be called offside when the defender passes the ball back towards his goal. This is because the defender is considered to have deliberately played the ball, and as such, you are not deemed to have gained an advantage.
A back pass is a very good example of how a defender can deliberately play the ball. Most of the time, they may intend to pass the ball back to their goalkeeper.
However, their pass may have been too soft, or an attacker may have intercepted the ball!
#1 Jordan Siebatcheu vs Manchester United (Champions League 2021/22)
In this match between Young Boys and Manchester United, Jesse Lingard passed the ball to Jordan Siebatcheu, who eventually scored the winner.
Even though Siebatcheu was in an offside position when Lingard passed the ball, he did not commit an offside offence.
#2 Lionel Messi vs RB Leipzig (Champions League 2021/22)
Tyler Adams of RB Leipzig attempted a back pass to his teammate during this Champions League match. However, it was intercepted by Kylian Mbappe.
Mbappe eventually assisted the goal by producing a square pass to Messi who scored the equaliser.
Again, Mbappe was not called offside from the back pass!
#3 Theo Walcott vs Schalke 04 (Champions League 2012/13)
In this Champions League match between Arsenal and Schalke, Roman Neustadter headed the ball to Olivier Giroud, which ultimately led to Theo Walcott scoring the goal.
Neustadter’s header was somewhat of a back pass, and he was deemed to have deliberately played the ball. As a result, Giroud did not commit an offside offence even though he was in an offside position.
Can you be offside from a header?
It is possible to be offside from a header if your teammate heads the ball to you when you’re in an offside position. However, if a defender heads the ball to you while you are in an offside position, you would not have committed an offside offence since the defender deliberately played the ball.
Your position when the header was being made will determine if you will be called offside or not.
If your teammate heads the ball to you while you’re in an offside position, you will be called offside.
In this match against Manchester United, Cristian Romero was in an offside position when the ball was headed to him.
However, if a defender from the opposing team heads the ball to you while you’re in an offside position, you won’t be called offside!
Can you be offside in the 6-yard box?
It is possible for you to be offside in the penalty (6-yard) box, so long as you meet the criteria to commit an offside offence. If as you are ahead of both the ball and the second-last defender, you will commit an offside offence.
There are no exceptions to the offside rule when you are in the penalty box. You will be called offside if you meet these 2 criteria:
- You are in your opponent’s half
- A part of your body (apart from your hands and arms) is ahead of both the ball and the second-last opponent
A common way of being called offside in the penalty box is when you happen to obstruct the goalkeeper’s line of sight!
Can you be offside from a cutback or a square ball?
If you are ahead of both the ball and the second-last defender when your teammate squares the ball to you in the penalty box, you will be called offside. To prevent this from happening, you should aim to be behind the ball when your teammate passes it so that you will still remain onside.
A square pass is a common way for your teammate to drill a low cross into the penalty box. If you are open, all you’ll need to do is to tap the ball in the net!
The most important thing is to ensure that you are behind either the ball or the second-last defender.
If not, you would be called offside if you are ahead of both the ball and the second-last opponent!
As a result, the pass from your teammate will be counted as a key pass, but not a chance created.
Can you be offside from an own goal?
You will be called offside from an own goal if you were in an offside position, and was deemed to have interfered with play when the own goal was scored.
This can be pretty contentious as you will have to meet these 2 criteria:
- You were in an offside position when the ball was being played by your teammate
- You interfered with play
Here is one example where this rule was being used:
The attacking player was in an offside position when the ball was played from a free kick.
This is because the free kick is a set piece where you can commit an offside offence!
Can you be offside from your own penalty?
You will not be offside from your own penalty if you shoot the ball and the goalkeeper saves it. However, if your shot hits the goalpost, you are unable to score from the rebound.
A penalty is a special set piece, where only the penalty taker and goalkeeper will be allowed in the penalty box. In this scenario, it would seem that the penalty taker is in an offside position.
The penalty is rather unfair to the goalkeeper, and they may have a tendency to dive the wrong way.
However, you will not be called offside during this scenario. You will still be able to score the penalty rebound if the goalkeeper saves your initial shot.
In the rare event that your shot hits the goalpost and rebounds back to you, it is illegal for you to score from this rebound!
Can you be offside from a drop ball?
If you are in an offside position when the drop ball is kicked to you by your teammate, you will have committed an offside offence.
A drop ball is defined as a restart when the referee stops play, and where the play will not be restarted from any of these set pieces:
- Free kick
- Penalty kick
- Goal kick
- Corner kick
Although the offside rule for a drop ball was not clearly defined in Rule 11, the IFAB clarified this in a Facebook post.
As such, we can consider that the offside rule will apply to a drop ball, similar to a goal kick!
Can you be offside from a goalkeeper’s drop kick?
A drop kick performed by a goalkeeper will be counted as a pass by a teammate. If you were in an offside position when your goalkeeper passed the ball to you via a drop kick, you will be committing an offside offence.
A drop kick is different from a goal kick. The goal kick occurs when the ball goes out of play. Meanwhile, a goalkeeper can perform a drop kick whenever he saves the ball and he wants to push the ball forward.
In this way, a goalkeeper will be passing the ball via a drop kick, just like any other player. As such, you will be called offside if you were in an offside position when the goalkeeper performed the drop kick!
This is in contrast to a goal kick, which is one of the 3 set pieces where you will not be called offside.
Moreover, you will need to be in your opponent’s half. If you were in your team’s own half before the goalkeeper performed the drop kick, you will not be called offside as well!
The offside rule is an extremely complicated rule that you may still be struggling to understand.
Some players may still not really understand this rule too, which may result in them arguing with the referee!
You can find out more about why we need the offside rule here.
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