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How To Call Offsides In Soccer? All You Need To Know

How To Call Offsides In Soccer? All You Need To Know

Every sport that exists is governed by certain rules and regulations. Sports won’t make sense without strict rules as players will have the freedom to commit numerous offenses and go scot-free.

Therefore, rules are necessary to ensure that the game is played in absolute fairness. Soccer players are expected to play by existing rules of the sport which is why a foul is blown for any offense detected by the referee.

Just like other sports, soccer also has rules which are to be strictly adhered to even though they are often difficult to achieve.

During the game of soccer, players constantly struggle to move the ball in the bearing of their opponent’s goal post with the sole aim of scoring a goal. Being in a haste to score goals, players often break rules, which can lead to a foul.

One of the common offenses players often commit is an offside which takes place when a player gives a pass to their teammate in an offside position. A player in an offside position is at an advantage of scoring easily without any hindrance.

When a player in an offside position scores a goal, the goal will not count because the player committed an offside offense before scoring the goal. You can imagine the sad feeling that engulfs a player when a goal is annulled due to an offside offense.

Offside has led to the cancellation of numerous goals during matches across the history of soccer. This offense has been in existence for a long time in soccer but some people still find it difficult to understand the offside rule.

We have discussed extensively in this article the offside offense, how to call offside in soccer, and the consequences of the foul.

How to call offsides in soccer?

In soccer, offside occurs if any part of the player’s body that can score a goal (arms and hands excluded) are found in the opponents’ part of the field and closer to the goal line of the opponent than the opponent’s second last player and the ball.

When a player is behind an opposing team’s last defender (including the goalkeeper in some cases) it means that the player is in an offside position. However, it is not an offense to be in an offside position until you receive the ball in that position or interfere with play.

Offside in soccer

In other words, if a player in an offside position does not receive the ball and does not make any attempt to play the ball, it is not offside and the referee will not penalize the player.

No offside on soccer

Offside also counts when the ball deflects from the defender and goes to an opponent who is in an offside position. However, if the defender deliberately kicks the ball to an opponent in an offside position, it won’t count as an offside.

When a defender makes a deliberate save but is intercepted by a player in an offside position, the offside offense will count.

For instance, in a case whereby a defender clears a ball that is insecurely near the goal but a player in an offside position interferes and scores a goal from this attempt, it will count as an offside.

Another interesting scenario that mostly happens during a counterattack is when an attacker receives the ball and outruns the last defender. Then, a supporting striker runs forward for the attacker to square the ball.

As long as the supporting striker is not beyond the attacker, it will not count as an offside.

Offside in 2vs1 in soccer

It is worthy to note that there is no offside during throw-ins, goal kicks, or corner kicks. So, if a player intercepts a poor goal kick and scores, it will not count as an offside even if they are beyond the last defender.

In 1883, the Football Association (FA) put together the Laws of the Game and for the offside rule, unless three players of the opponent’s team were in front of a player (the goalkeeper inclusive), the player was offside.

But over the years, this rule has been constantly modified to what we have today which was last modified in 2005, stated in Law 11 of the official Laws of the Game.

To avoid committing an offside offense, soccer players ought to understand the offside rule and how offside is called in soccer. Below are instances that call for an offside offense.

Focus on two defenders close to their goal  

If there is at least one defender from the opposing team and the goalkeeper in front of an offensive player or level with the player, the player is said to be “onside”.

Onside soccer player 2

However, in a case where there is no defender and just the goalkeeper between the attacker and the goal when the attacker’s teammate made the pass, the player is “offside” and a foul is blown by the referee.

In rare cases, especially when a team is losing and pressing to get a goal, the goalkeeper can leave his post and move deep into the opponent’s half. If an offensive player should get a pass in the opponent’s half to capitalize on the opponent and score, that counts as an offside.

Offside soccer player

However, it is important to mention that a player cannot be declared offside in his own half. So, using the last example as a case study, if a player should receive a pass in his own half and make a run with the ball towards the open net, that will not count as offside.

Soccer player cannot offside in their own half

Focus on the opponent’s part of the pitch

Offside occurs when a player is on the side of the pitch that contains the opponent’s goal post. The motive behind the offside rule is to prevent players from lurking too close to the opponent’s goal post in search of easy scoring opportunities.

This is the reason why when a player is on the opponent’s part of the pitch and any part of the player’s legs, head, or torso is beyond the last defender when he or she receives the ball, an offside freekick will be given.

Fun fact: If you notice, most soccer fields have stripes, this is not only for aesthetics but also helps players and referees in recognizing offside situations.

Focus on the period a teammate makes contact with the ball

As earlier stated, when an offside offense occurs, the referee will award a freekick against the team that committed the offense.

Offside is usually calculated from when the ball was released. For example, if any part of the receiving player’s body that can score a goal was beyond the last defender when the pass was given, the referee will call an offside.

Focus on the period a teammate makes contact with the ball

On the other hand, if the receiving player only paced beyond the last defender after the pass had been given by the teammate and the ball was in the air, it would not count as an offside.

Interestingly, if a player in an offside position does not move or obstruct the ball, the referee will not penalize the player. This is one of the reasons why some players often hurry past defenders immediately after the ball is played.

For example, in a match between Manchester City and Aston Villa, Rodrigo Hernandez Cascante of Manchester City was in an offside position when Bernardo Silva headed the ball.

However, Rodrigo took the ball from Aston Villa’s defender Tyrone Minge who chested the ball down. Rodrigo then passed the ball to Silva to score.

It was concluded that Rodrigo was not challenging for the ball and did not gain an advantage since he was 2 yards from Tyrone when he possessed the ball. Therefore, he did not commit an offside offense.

Focus on the referee

Referee flag

All referees present in the field of play are always on alert to ensure all rules of the game are obeyed. If the assistant referee (AR) spots an interference with the play by an offside player, he or she will immediately raise the flag into the air.

After this, the referee may then stop the play by blowing the whistle and raising his or her arm showing that the defending team has been awarded an indirect free-kick.

The assistant referee after the blow of the whistle lets down the flag to a certain degree to give the signal of the offside player.

For example, the assistant referee will lower the flag to about 45 degrees for a player that is across the pitch from the assistant referee.

Likewise, the assistant will keep the flag at about 90 degrees for a player that is close to the center of the pitch and 135 degrees for a player that is close to the side.

When center referees don’t blow the whistle and raise their arm, it means they disagree and have overruled the assistant referee’s decision.

A player’s interference with the area of play

If a player attempts to gain an advantage from being offside or a player interferes with the play, an offside freekick will be given by the referee. The referee can penalize a player for this at any point in time until the opponent team takes charge of the ball.

Below are some scenarios where a referee would likely call for an offside freekick;

  • When a teammate kicks the ball and it soars over a defender and gets to an offside player
  • When a direct pass is made to an offside player
  • In a scenario where a teammate shoots the ball and offside players mount themselves close to the goal expecting to receive the rebound
  • When an offside player tries to receive the ball by getting in the way of the defender

When there is an offside offense, the opposing team is granted an indirect freekick by the referee and the freekick must be played from the point where the offense occurred.

When an offside offense occurs within the goal area, the awarded freekick can be taken by the defenders or goalkeeper from any angle within the goal area.


Soccer player on the field

Beating the offside trap is easy. However, players (particularly strikers) are mostly carried away with the enthusiasm to score that they often lose focus of the offside trap often set by the opposition defenders.

Players can try avoiding offsides by making sure that two defenders are behind all the time. An offensive player shouldn’t be afraid to chase after a ball if he or she was not offside when the ball was played.