Soccer Question

I was watching the Mexico-U.S. soccer game last night (US won 2-0, yeah!), and I got to thinking about the offsides rule. No, I don’t need the rule explained to me, but I wondered about the reasoning behind the rule. When was the offsides rule added to the game? How were matches different without the rule? I’m hoping this doesn’t turn into a GD.

An absolutely fantastic explanation of the evolution of the offside rule in football can be seen here. There’s stuff in there that I didn’t even know. :wink:

In short: it was introduced to put some structure in the game. In various phases, it was fine-tuned to the rule it is now (which I shall not explain here). As it is, there’s quite an active lobby to remove the rule altogether.

I, for one, think it ought to stay.

Agreed, Coldfire, and you’ll note that other similar sports (e.g.: hockey) have the rule, and you don’t hear anyone complaining about that. The rule requiring the offense to be onside in soccer has the great added advantage of being a dynamic, rather than static, feature, allowing the defense to set the line at any moment. Of course, having been an official for some years now, I can admit that it is a real pain in the ass to judge it correctly in all cases. I’ll note that the Mexicans got screwed at least once in the first half when either Pope or Regis was a good five feet behind the Mexican forward, but the assisstant didn’t look up until after the ball was played forward, and misjudged the result.

On a side note: why is it no one in this country understands that the offside rule in soccer is really no different from the offside rule in our version of football? :slight_smile:

This should answer your question.


Thanks, Coldfire, for that link. Who is actively lobbying to remove the rule – players, officials, fans? Do certain countries tend to favor/disfavor the offsides rule?

DSY, at first I wondered about your statement that the offside rule in soccer is no different than the offside rule in American football. In soccer the action is constant whereas American football is mainly standing around. (I do like both, though.) Then I thought about it and realized you’re right. As the article yojimbo linked to says,

This does fit the offside rule in all sports.

I always believed the offside rule was to prevent goalhanging – strikers spending the entire match standing around the opposition goal while the rest of the team pumped long, high balls up to them. That would make for an incredibly tedious match.

yes mattk, but I saw a clip of a player who was off the pitch but still around the goal mouth. When the goalkeeper was going to kick a ball that had gone out of play, he ran back on the pitch, stole the ball and scored legitimately. This is the clip is played in football funnies and was shown quite recently in the UK.

Damned if I know what the actual rule on that is though. Any takers?


I have seen the clip you are talking about. The ball hadn’t gone out of play. The goalkeeper had saved the ball then rolled it in front of him because he was going to kick it instead of throw it or punt it.

The offensive player had run out of bounds pursuing the ball and the goalie didn’t know he was there. The reason he wasn’t offside is because a player is only offside when the ball is played to him by a member of his own team.

Actually hockey (field hockey to 'merkins) no longer has an offside rule during play.

When I started playing in the 70s, the offside rule was 2 defenders plus goalie at the halfway line (50yds). Not that long after that it became 1 defender (the same as soccer). In the 80s the rule was changed to 1 defender at the 25 (yds) line. In the last couple of years, the offside rule has been removed altogether. The last Olympics were the first (IIRC) to be played with no offside.

Even for a defender such as myself, the rule changes are good. The gradual evolution certainly helped. Goal hanging is done, but it’s rarely seen in higher grades.

The only times you need to be on-side now is at the start of play e.g. for each half, after a goal or the now unusual occurance of an on-side bully.

As a soccer referee for some twelve years, I’m pretty familiar with FIFAs offside rule. It certainly prevents cherry-picking, makes defensive strategy an important part of the game, and encourages quick runs to the net rather than merely deflecting a long distance shot.

This is true, but of course the ball does not need to be played to the actual player in an offside position, merely give “him” an advantage. The offside would be called at the time the ball is kicked towards the player and not when “he” receives it.

** back more on topic **
I don’t think this is the example you’ve been discussing but I recall seeing Nigel Clough playing for Nottingham Forest in the English First division once come from behind the goalkeeper who had made a save and was surveying the field in front, heading the ball out of his hands and putting it into the unguarded net.

The goal stood and I think it was considered that the ruling was correct.

It wasn’t offside. The (cover-all) rule here is “unsportsmanlike conduct” (or “ungentlemanly conduct”).

The goal was, IIRC, George Parris, formerly of West Ham, scoring for Brighton & Hove Albion against Bristol Rovers (I really should get out more).

Righto. I was sloppy to put in the phrase “to him”. I was just trying to explain why he wasn’t called for offside even though he was behind all the defenders.

You mean, kinda like the Premier League before the Dutch started to get involved? :smiley:

I’ve seen the clip where the striker comes from behind the goal, heads the ball from between the keepers hand and side, and puts it in the net. I think it was correct, and don’t recall any mention of “unsportsmanlike conduct”. The only recent example of “unsportsmanlike conduct” I can recall is Nwankwo Kanu making a throw-in to a teammate who immediately scored. Since the throw-in happened because an opponent puting the ball off-pitch because of an injury with one of Kanu’s teammates, the throw-in was to be considered a “courtesy throw-in”. That is, he should have tossed it to the other team.

The match was replayed because the team management considered the victory (it was the winning goal, 2 minutes before time) unworthy. Kanu apologised profusely.

Does anyone know if Aussie Rules Football has an offside rule? I’m too lazy to look it up. You often see long kicks into the front of the goal where a single offensive player is marked by two or more defenders. The point to this is that the offensive player gets a free kick at goal if he can catch the ball in the air. This seems quite like the highly vertical game soccer (association football, futbol, calcio, whatever you want to call it) tries to avoid.

That wasn’t actually “unsporting behavior” it was just uncool. My problem with that whole incident was that Kanu ran on to the throw in and got a lot of heat for it. But it was Marc Overmars who actually scored the goal, yet he was relatively unscathed by the controversy. Wenger said that Kanu might not have understood the courtesy throw-in because he was not raised in the European game. But Overmars was. I think Overmars skated rather easily on that one.

Agreed. Overmars was just as guilty.

And the argument that Kanu wasn’t “raised” in the European game is bullshit as well, of course. He first played for AFJ Ajax Amsterdam (Olé Olé! ;)) when he was a wee lad of 17 years old. And I do believe the Italian Serie A uses the courtesy throw-in as well. Given the frequency with which Italian strikers hit the deck (whether they’re actually injured or not remains to be seen :rolleyes: ), you’d have thought li’l Nwankwo would have gotten the hang of it.

Not that this has anything to do with offside, of course. :wink:

There’s no offside in Australian football.

There is in Gaelic football, though. That’s one of the issues they’ve had to work out in the compromise rules games. The rule isn’t exactly the same as it is in soccer, I think the player just can’t get to the box before the ball does, but I don’t really watch enough Gaelic to know for sure.

First of, Dr Paprika might correct me, the only current change now is that the offense can be on the same level as the defense player such as the following:


o1: offense receiving
o2: offense passing

This was not the case before.

Second, as far as lobbying to remove the rule, I don’t think anyone is officially to do so since there are very good reasons for the rule. Though, there have been some officials or explayers who have sought changes in the size of the goal, throw in, etc.