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The offside rule can get a little confusing at times and you might be wondering which players actually count as defenders for the offside rule.
So, do any players not count as a defender for the offside rule? All players for the defending team count as defenders for the offside rule, including the goalkeeper.
In this article we’ll take a look at what the official rule states and then clear up some confusion when it comes to who counts as a defender for the offside rule.
What does the official rule state?
The official rule states:
A player is in an offside position if:
- any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
- any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent
The rule simply says “second-last opponent” and doesn’t specify any further or exclude any player from the rule.
Where there might be some confusion
Usually the goalkeeper is the furthest defender back, so some people think the offside rule looks at the last outfield defender and that the goalkeeper doesn’t count.
This isn’t true. The rule states it is the second-last opponent, not the last outfield opponent. It’s just that almost always the goalkeeper is the last opponent so the second-last opponent (the one that counts) is the nearest outfield defender.
Check out the video below.
At first glance it appears the attacker is onside because there is a defender on the goal line in front of him. However, you can also see that the goalkeeper is out of his goal and behind the attacker.
As the goalkeeper counts as a defender for the offside rule and there needs to be two defenders between the attacker and the goal line, this is correctly ruled as offside.
It’s confusing because we’re so used to looking at the last outfield defender when it comes to offsides and even the commentator’s got it wrong in this instance, but this is an example of great refereeing.
Thanks for reading!