Soccer is an exciting game with a variety of strategies and displays that are thrilling to watch. Certain rules may appear a bit strange to anyone new to soccer; one of which is the offside rule.
Offsides are some of the most contentious issues in soccer. The offside rule, also known as Law 11 of the Laws of the Game, addresses all irregularities and sanctions to offenders.
According to the law, an offside offense is committed if a player in an offside position at the time the ball is being struck towards him is engaged in activities such as:
- Challenging or contemplating tackling a defending player for the ball
- Interfering with play by being a part of an offensive move
- Taking evident actions to obstruct an opponent’s ability to play the ball
Although there are offside offenses and penalties, a player being offside does not always mean he or she will be punished.
A player is only punished while in an offside position if he or she is adjudged to be involved in active play, as previously stated. In any case, understanding what constitutes an offside is critical for all soccer players and fans alike.
There are several reasons to implement the offside rule during a soccer match. In this article, we will discuss the reasons why offsides are included in the Laws of the Game. We also look closely at the pros and cons of each of them.
- Why does soccer have offsides?
- What would soccer be like without offsides?
Why does soccer have offsides?
Soccer aims to score as many goals as possible within the stipulated 90-minute timeframe, but at what cost? Players cannot be allowed to overrun and overlap into each other’s goal areas in search of goals. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) along with FIFA had to come up with a rule to avoid players encroachment.
To solve this, Rule 11 of the Laws of the Game was conceived. The game of soccer has the offside rule for these reasons.
To eliminate goal mouth hanging
It is natural for humans to seek the advantage over their competitors, and this has been extended to sports. Before the implementation of the offside rule in soccer, players used various methods of exploitation to gain subtle advantages over opponents.
Teams set up their players in a way that allowed them to easily get the ball into the net. Imagine a situation when two or more attacking players are positioned in the opposition goal area waiting for a pass from their teammates. A sudden counterattack will give the team an outright advantage because of the loitering position of the players.
Emboldened by the fact that there was no law prohibiting it initially, these players would forgo the typical built-up play seen in modern games. Balls would be volleyed from one end of the field to the other into the waiting arms of goal-mouth hanging players.
As a result, an entire field of play would have been omitted, negating the need for midfielders and defenders.
Overall, this made soccer a less entertaining game, necessitating the need for soccer organizers to devise a rule that would curtail such competitive advantages that attackers had lurking behind the defending team’s players while also ensuring that undue goal lurking was eliminated from soccer.
By discouraging goalmouth hanging, players tend to play better to score goals, and the goalkeeper is kept safe from unnecessary collisions.
There are times when goal hanging wasn’t done intentionally. Gameplay and quick defensive play may have left the player still within the goal area. In such a case, a promising advancing attack will be stopped to abide by the rules of the Laws of the Game.
Players are expected to work the ball from one end of the pitch to the other, ensuring they stay in front of the opposing team’s defense. While keeping their eyes focused on the game, they’ve to consciously watch their position on the opponent’s goal area – this can be frustrating at times.
To ensure that attacking players position themselves on the field in a more intelligent manner
The offside rule forbids several actions including receiving the ball from a teammate when there is no one between you and the goal other than the goalie. As a result, forward players will no longer be able to rely on being near the goalmouth regularly, necessitating the need for smarter field positioning.
The job of any professional striker may be to score goals but to do so more intelligently. A closer look at Messi’s movement on the pitch would see he carefully positions himself on the shoulder of the last defender nearer to the goal. This gives him the advantage to make a quick sprint and also to keep him on-side when an attacking play is initiated.
For attacking players to have a chance at scoring, they must first find a way to get the ball close to the goal, which necessitates their active participation in the build-up of play.
By persistent pressing and fluent passes during such build-ups, strikers will not only be able to score a lot of goals, but will also make the game more lively and entertaining.
Continuous fluent passing of balls and coordinated movement to the opposition box will further improve the players’ positioning skills. Intelligent movements would also be made towards dribbling the opposition, resulting in a game of suspense that is worth watching.
Unless one is the defensive team, the offside rule makes it a bit harder to penetrate defense. Much more skills and tactics are needed to break through an already formidable defense.
Given the offside rule, which prohibits advantageous encroachment on the attacking team’s area, the defending team can set up an offside trap.
An offside trap is formed when players on the defending team push up-field to put one or more opposing players in an offside position. And, if executed effectively, the offside trap will force the attacking team to play with skill because they will be heavily man-marked due to limited playing space.
This style of play can be frustrating for a team’s advancing attack. An offside trap may work in favor of the team’s defense but continuous use can reduce the entertainment aspects of the match.
To ensure that players rely on both their individual and group abilities
Consider a soccer game in which the defenders and midfielders do nothing but toss the ball towards the forwards to score. The game will almost certainly be devoid of skill and strategy.
Take, for example, dribbling. The beauty of seeing soccer stars like Mohammed Salah, Lionel Messi, and others maneuver the ball in modern soccer is made possible in large part by the offside rule.
Aside from individual skill displays, the offside encourages group skills from both teams. And it is because of this teamwork that soccer is as enjoyable as we have come to appreciate.
Soccer is a team sport. It is almost easy to forget these days, especially with the way individual players get credit for their skills. The success of any team is a collective effort from each team member.
With the offside rule in place, the team must work together (depending on individual strength) to overcome it. This builds team spirit and overall sportsmanship.
With the demonstration of personal and group skills, there is a greater need for referees to severely monitor and control contests as more fouls are committed and plays are stopped due to injury. This is because the opposing team will do all it can to stop constructive plays from the other team.
Encourages different attacking play
Soccer remains one of the most thrilling sports on the planet because of its unpredictable nature. Different types and styles of goals have been scored to the entertainment of fans.
With the offside rule in place, players have to develop attacking variations to beat the opposing team’s defense. Imagine gameplay where the defense “packs the bus”.
The opposing team’s attack will have to develop tactics and skills to maneuver through the defense. A different attacking approach will be used when the defense chooses to play the offside trap.
Since soccer is a game played with the intention of scoring goals, having players develop ways to achieve this, not only improves the sport but the overall abilities of the players. Some of the best players in professional soccer are known for their goal scoring prowess.
A team that doesn’t have a versatile attacking capacity may find it hard to score goals and win games. This is noticeable in some soccer teams that struggle upfront because their attacking style is predictable.
What would soccer be like without offsides?
All of the reasons for its establishment would be absent if offsides were not included in the rules of soccer. The strategic soccer we all love, as well as all of the techniques used by sportsmen, will not have been seen.
Players from both teams would not have needed to be spread out across the field, but rather positioned at both ends of the field where the goal is located, as the main objective of soccer is to get the ball into the net.
As a result, soccer will lack a defined pattern of play and the players will be disorganized in the worst way possible.
It would also be a game in which all players would do nothing but wait for the ball in the opposition’s box.
These players would only be defensively minded when defending their goal, or offensively minded when on the offense. By always positioning themselves around the penalty box, the goalkeepers, in addition to the defenders, would be left with a lot of work.
Further still, the strategy of keeping the offside trap by forming a defensive line with teammates will be obsolete in the game. And although there would be direct passes between players, it’ll be from goal to goal, with the midfield intentionally avoided.
Offsides, a feature that did not exist when soccer was first introduced, were implemented by the game’s organizers to make the game more entertaining.
Creativity was added to the game by discouraging players from loitering around the opposing box waiting for the ball to tap into the goal.
To summarize everything that has been said thus far, the purpose of offsides in soccer is to make the game entertaining by ensuring that all players are actively engaged in talented play.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!