The “Offside Rule” in soccer is perhaps the most confusing to understand for soccer players and soccer fans.
A player must be offside the moment the ball is played by a teammate. And to be called offside, the player must also be involved in an “active play” by gaining an advantage by being offside, or interfere with a play, or an opponent.To be offsides, the player must also be on the opponent’s half of the soccer field, being closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the next-to-last defender (the goalkeeper is usually the last defender).
A player is not offsides if he is on his own half of the field, or “even” with the next-to-last defender or the last two defenders. (The goal keeper is usually the last defender, or one of the last two, but not always; rules usually refer to the last two defenders and make no mention of the goal keeper). Offsides in soccer can be difficult to call. A player can be “even” with the next-to-last defender (not offsides), and run past the next-to-last defender immediately after his teammate makes a pass past the next-to-last defender. This is not offsides, because the soccer player was not offsides the moment the ball was passed.
It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if:
- he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent
A player is not in an offside position if:
- he is in his own half of the field of play or
- he is level with the second-last opponent or
- he is level with the last two opponents
A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
- interfering with play or
- interfering with an opponent or
- gaining an advantage by being in that position
There is no offside offense if a player receives the ball directly from:
- a goal kick
- a throw-in
- a corner kick