Offside rule

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Assistant referee in football when indicating the position of an offside position.
Offside: At the pass , the player receiving the ball (blue, left) stands in front of the penultimate opposing player (red). However, if this player (blue, left) is not played, it is a "passive" offside, which is not punished (officially: no offside).

The offside rule (in Switzerland offside rule ) is a provision in sports such as football , rugby union and ice hockey , which declares certain playing field positions of attacking players against the defenders of the opposing team to be illegal and thus prevents the attack on the opposing goal. Since offside decisions by the referee and his assistants can sometimes be controversial, they regularly lead to heated discussions among supporters of the teams involved, especially in football . In the sports listed above, rule variants and the rule itself are controversial and are subject to change from time to time.

The offside rule prevents offensive players from waiting behind the defensive players or even near the goal for long passes , and thus leads to a gradual build-up of the game with running play and dribbling or short passes .



The basic rule of offside arose at the beginnings of regulated football in England in the 19th century. At that time, the size of the goals or the playing fields and the number of players were not even fixed. The rationale was that it was unfair to score behind your opponent's back. The rule should also prevent an attacking field player from standing near the opponent's goal, waiting for the ball, and then effortlessly shooting it in. With the first official rule from 1863, only backward passes were allowed. "Because no (smooth) game got going like this, the offside rule was changed after three years" so that forward passes were possible: From 1866 to 1925 it was not offside if at least three defending players were between the goal line and the attacker were positioned.

Since 1907 it has not been possible to play offside in one's own half of the field . There was no offside for goal kicks and corner kicks , but there was for a throw-in. In 1920 the offside rule was repealed for throw-ins. The core elements of today's offside rules were laid down in 1925. Since 1990 the same height is no longer offside.

The rule comes from rugby , which was the predecessor sport of football until the division between the rugby and football associations. The forward pass is still forbidden in rugby today. There is also an irregularity in American football called offside, but here it means that a player is in the neutral zone or beyond it (i.e. on the opponent's side) at the beginning of the game, seen in the direction of his team. After the start of the game, both sides are allowed to stand behind the opposing players in American football.

Offside position canceled by an opponent
No offside (because the attacking player does not intervene in the game in the penalty area )
No offside (because the ball is closer to the goal line than the attacking player)
No offside (because the ball comes from the opponent)
Offside (the ball bounces off the opposing goalkeeper, the player takes advantage of the original offside position; a bounce off a post or crossbar would have the same meaning)
No offside (because all defending players (including outside the field of play) are taken into account to assess the offside position)

Offside position

Rule 11 (offside) of the rulebook initially defines the position at which a player can stand offside. Accordingly, a player is in an offside position if he

  • is closer to the opponent's goal line than the ball [colloquially: when it is “in front of the ball”] and
  • is closer to the opponent's goal line (*) than the penultimate opponent [there are fewer than two opposing players, whether goalkeeper or field player, on the same level as him or in front of him] and
  • is in the opposing half of the game.

(*) Equal height with the penultimate or the last two opponents is not an offside position


The feet, torso and head are decisive for the positions of the players involved.

When determining the number of opponents, it does not matter whether it is the goalkeeper or field player, even if the goalkeeper is usually the last opponent. If the two or more of the last opponents are on the same level, one of them is considered the penultimate opponent.

When assessing the offside position, all players count, regardless of whether they are on the field or not. In general, this only applies to players who have left the pitch with the consent of the referee (e.g. to treat an injury).

If a defending player leaves the pitch without the referee's consent, he is counted as standing on his own goal line or on the sideline. The aim of this rule is to prevent a defender from deliberately leaving the pitch to sideline an opposing player. Such a player must be cautioned the next time the game is interrupted .

An attacking player who is in the offside position, on the other hand, may leave the pitch to signal that he does not want to intervene in the game (and thus not be taken into account when assessing the offside position). Nevertheless, he counts the offside position in the assessment - taking into account the fact that he does not intervene in the game - until the defending team has played the ball towards the center line and the ball has left the penalty area. In addition, he must wait to re-enter the game until the situation has been resolved and the referee approves the re-entry. If the player returns to the field of play beforehand, he must be warned.

It is important that the rule first describes the pure offside position, but not whether this offside position must also be punished as such.


The second part of Rule 11 defines when the offside position is an offense , i.e. a violation in the sense of the offside rule, because the offside position of a player does not in itself constitute an offense. A player is then punished for his offside position if he believes the referee is already actively participating in the game at the time the ball is touched or played by a teammate , but also beyond that until a new game situation occurs .

A new game situation occurs when

  • a teammate of the attacker touches the ball,
  • an opponent plays the ball deliberately (i.e. in a controlled manner), with the mere attempt being sufficient regardless of success as soon as the ball touches, with the exception of a goal defense action,
  • the ball leaves the field of play, or
  • the referee stops play.

An active participation in the game is when the player who was at the time of Abspiels in offside position,

  • touches the ball,
  • directly, d. H. close to the ball (with and without a duel) trying to get the ball,
  • obstructs or irritates an opponent or the goalkeeper (e.g. by obstruction of view), whereby this is to be interpreted very narrowly, or
  • take advantage of his position (e.g. by accepting a ball that ricochets off the goal or comes from an uncontrolled game by an opponent).

If, in the opinion of the referee, only an offside player is able to take the ball and he tries to get the ball, he should immediately decide on offside.

“No offense” (i.e., an offside position is not penalized) is when a player receives the ball directly from a goal kick , throw-in, or corner kick , or the player is clearly unwilling to intervene in play.

The difficulty for the referee to decide offside or no offside comprises two assessments: First, the referee must decide whether a game situation is offside. If this is the case, the offside position must be punished if there is a game intervention. However , if several attacking players can accept a ball and they are not all in offside position at the time of the ball delivery, the referee must wait until the ball is accepted before making his decision ("wait and see").


If the referee decides offside, he awards the opposing team an indirect free kick . This must be performed at the point where the offside position “took effect” (usually the intervention in the game took place), with the exception of offside positions in the opposing goal area, in which case the free kick can be taken from any point in the goal area run; Until May 2016, the free kick was taken where the player was in the offside position at the time the ball was released.

Offside is a technical violation, not a prohibited game ( foul ) or unsportsmanlike behavior. That is why there can never be a personal penalty, i.e. a warning ( yellow card ) or expulsion ( red card ), against the player for being offside . The offside rule is that even in the case of repeated violations of the rules of the game, for which a personal punishment is otherwise necessary, such a punishment may not be imposed.

When deciding whether a player is in an offside position and intervening in the game, so that he commits a rule violation, the referee in higher-class leagues receives support from his assistants . Since they should be on the sideline on the same level as the penultimate defender, they can usually better assess the situation. At the Confederations Cup 2005 , the assistants were required to wait until the offside player really intervened and only then to give a flag. For the 2005/06 season, however, the German Football Association gave the instruction to wait until obviously only the offside player can intervene, and thus largely not to implement this controversial innovation, because in the time when the offside already exists , but has not yet been reported, there is an unnecessary risk of injury and uncertainty in the interpretation of other rules. In addition, this rule led to understandable frustrations among players who had chased a line and were then whistled when they hit the ball. For the 2006 World Cup , this rule was adopted by FIFA.

The offside rule does not apply to indoor football and is not applicable in some youth divisions depending on the association.

Since modern football has gotten faster, wrong decisions are more common and cannot always be avoided. The Spanish doctor Francisco Belda Maruenda demonstrated that it is in principle impossible for a person to observe a large number of players and the ball as closely as would be necessary for a reliable decision. To remedy this situation, systems are conceivable which electronically monitor the positions of the players and the ball. The referee then only has to decide whether the identified positions were offside to be punished.

If a defending team deliberately lets the opposing team run offside by running the defenders quickly forward (away from their own goal) shortly before the opponent's ball is passed, this is called an offside trap . This defensive tactic is one of the most difficult in modern football because fractions of a second and centimeters are decisive. The offside trap was perfected in particular by Ajax Amsterdam and the Dutch and Belgian national teams in the 1970s.

Criticism of the "passive offside"

The regulation of the offside restriction generally known as "passive offside", which states that the referee must let the game go if a player is offside but does not intervene directly or indirectly in the game, has been criticized again and again since its introduction . The main issue here is the difficulty of objectively assessing whether a player is intervening in any way or not. Both at club level and at international level, coaches in particular repeatedly called for the regulation to be made clearer and simpler. Abolition was also a recurring theme, for example by Ottmar Hitzfeld , Joachim Löw , Jupp Heynckes and Louis van Gaal .

A rule introduced by FIFA in 2005 and first used at the Confederations Cup , which said that the referee should only blow the whistle after the offside player or players touched the ball, was found to be unsuitable. The rule led to strange game delays. The referee chairman of the DFB , Volker Roth , commented as follows:

“I couldn't help but laugh at the screen. You can't really take such an interpretation of the rules seriously if you let a player who is on the side run 20 or 30 meters, with opponents and assistants following him, and then, when he touches the ball, pull out the flag. "

- Volker Roth :

After fierce opposition from numerous football and referee associations, this interpretation was put into perspective again in such a way that an offside decision is made when clearly only the offside player can intervene, even if he has not yet touched the ball.

To eliminate passive offside, there would be the option of either deciding on offside "as before" whenever a player is in the offside position, regardless of whether he intervenes in the game or not, or completely abolishing the offside rule due to changed conditions:

“There is no longer any risk of the strikers standing in front of the goal. Because nowadays every striker has to do defensive work so that the opponent does not play out excess numbers too easily. "

- Martin Beils : Rheinische Post

Rugby union

In rugby union , a player is offside,

  • if he is in front of the player kicking the ball during a pass with his foot forward (10 meters offside) or
  • if he is in one of the static game situations (arranged or open scrum or parcel) in front of the last foot of a player on his own team involved in this situation or
  • if there is a line-out and the player who does not participate in the line-out is closer than 10 m to the line-of-touch, or
  • if he is in front of the ball and intervening in play in a situation where a player is being held .

If the offside rule is violated, the opposing team receives a penalty kick. Unintentional offside is punished with an ordered scrum in the event of an opponent's throw-in.

ice Hockey

Offside ( IIHF rule 450/451) is when at least one attacking player is with both skates in the opposing third of the defense before the puck has completely crossed the blue line and he plays the puck there. To avoid being offside, there must be no player from the attacking team in the attacking third at the moment the puck crosses the blue line.

If the puck is not played by an attacking player in an offside position, the linesman indicates delayed offside by raising his arm . The attacking team then has the option of canceling the offside again, in that all players in the opposing third leave the attacking third again, so that at a time there is no attacking player in the attacking third. The linesman then shows the no offside signal and play continues as normal. The delayed offside is also canceled as soon as the puck leaves the attack third. If an attacking player touches the puck during the delayed offside before all attacking players have left the third, offside is recognized and play is interrupted.

Notwithstanding this, it is not considered offside if

  • the disc is returned to the defending zone by a defending player, or if
  • the attacking player, moving backwards, moves the puck into the attacking third in a controlled manner on the stick .

Away from the goal area ( IIHF rule 471) occurs when an attacking player is in the opponent's goal area. The whistle is then blown and a face-off is carried out in the neutral zone. However, if the player stands passively in the goal area, i.e. without intervening in the game and obstructing the goalkeeper, then play continues. If the player is pushed into the goal area by a defender, the whistle blows and a 2-minute penalty is imposed on the defender for obstruction.

A third possible offside form is the two-line pass (or red line offside ). If a player plays a pass across two lines (blue and red), the game ends; in this way fast counterattacks are prevented. In the European ice hockey leagues, this rule has not been used since it was abolished by the IIHF in 1998; in the NHL it was abolished for the 2005/06 season . Since the 2005/06 season, the Extraliga in the Czech Republic has reintroduced offside for two-line passes (see ice hockey in the Czech Republic ).

American football

An offside is when a player on the defending team is in or beyond the neutral zone during the snap . The neutral zone is determined by the position of the game ball. Only the center may reach into the neutral zone to start the move by moving the ball. The penalty is 5 yards of loss of space and retry of the attempt.

Field handball

In the original form of field handball on the large field , an offside rule comparable to ice hockey was used.


Web links

Commons : Offside  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Christoph Biermann, Ulrich Fuchs: The ball is round so that the game can change direction. How modern football works . 1st edition. Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 1999, ISBN 3-462-02857-X , p. 42-44 .
  2. ^ Official rules of FIFA 2015/2016. (PDF; 2.4 MB) Retrieved April 18, 2019 .
  3. DFV "Referee" [1] Explanations of the Referees Committee on the interpretation of FIFA rules
  4. What had to be proven: How a Spanish doctor fights the offside rule. In: Der Spiegel . March 7, 2005, accessed July 14, 2014.
  5. National coaches advise in Stockholm on, accessed July 4, 2010 .
  6. Only Ewald Lienen still upsets the Bundesliga referees., October 12, 2000, accessed on July 4, 2010 : “Hitzfeld: I am in favor of returning to the old rule, ie abolishing passive offside. We discussed this at a meeting with ten Champions League coaches. Everyone is saying the same thing because the current regulation is not fair in terms of sport. "
  7. ↑ National coach thinks about rule changes: Löw would abolish passive offside., December 25, 2006, accessed on July 4, 2010 .
  8. Heynckes is in favor of rule changes. (No longer available online.), October 21, 2011, archived from the original on October 25, 2011 ; Retrieved October 21, 2011 .
  9. Van Gaal suggests "Gladiator Game"., February 22, 1999, accessed July 4, 2010 .
  10. Fifa on the sidelines. (No longer available online.), archived from the original on March 26, 2009 ; Retrieved July 4, 2010 .
  11. Martin Beils: Passive offside: A nuisance for players, fans and referees. In: Rheinische Post . October 18, 2011, accessed November 11, 2011 .
  12. ^ Offside and Onside in General Play ( Memento from May 26, 2012 in the Internet Archive ). Law 11 in Laws Of The Game ( July 11, 2012 memento on the Internet Archive ) , International Rugby Board , Dublin , 2012, ISBN 978-1-907506-18-5 .
  13. Super Bowl 2012: Lexicon of the most important terms in American football. In: Ran - Sat.1 Football . Retrieved January 12, 2013 .