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One of the many intricacies of the offside rule attempts to clarify what happens when a ball comes off a defender and finds it’s way to a player that was in an offside position.
So, can you be offside if the ball comes off a defender? Yes. If the ball is deflected off a defender or the defender makes a deliberate save, it’s offside. Only when a defender deliberately plays the ball is it not considered offside.
In the rest of this article, we’ll take a look at what the official rules state, and I’ve found a couple of examples which should help to put it into context.
A player IS offside if the ball is deflected or deliberately saved
The official rules state that a player is offside if they “gain an advantage by being in that position”.
So, what exactly does “gaining an advantage” entail?
Well, the rules state a player is gaining an advantage if a ball is played:
i. that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position
ii. that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside positionwww.thefa.com/football-rules-governance/lawsandrules/laws/football-11-11/law-11—offside
The deflection part of this rule is fairly straight forward, but what counts as a deliberate save needs a little more clarification.
Again, let’s refer to the official rules:
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)
So if a defender slides to clear a ball which is precauriously close to the goal, then a player who was in an offside position scores a goal from this attempted clearance, it would be ruled as offside.
This also means that you can be offside from a goalkeepers save.
A player IS NOT offside if the defender deliberetely plays the ball
An exception to the rule is if the defender makes a deliberate play on the ball, other than a save.
A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.
So if a defender plays a poor pass, and that pass is intercepted by an opposition player who was in an offside position, it would not be offside.
Of course, like any rule in football, there are always going to be controversial decisions involving offsides and defender deflections.
Check out the video below.
A player attempts a pass to an onside team-mate, a defender attempts to intercept, but in turn gives the ball to a player who was in an offside position when the initial pass was made.
Was it a deflection or deliberate play on the ball?
In my opinion it was a deliberate play on the ball and should not have been called offside. The defender doesn’t have the ball under control, but it’s more than just a deflection. And all the rule states is that the player must “deliberately play the ball”.
There is a similar scenario in this next video.
However, in this case, it appears that it is a deflection and not a deliberate play on the ball. The ball deflects off the defender’s head and I can’t see any way he could have avoided that from such a close range kick.
Hopefully this clears things up a bit and helps you to understand the offside rule a little better. And a couple of examples always helps to wrap your head around it. Or maybe it just gives you something else to argue about!
Thanks for reading!