Should this goal have been ruled offside? For what it's worth, it was called offside by the referee.

  • 1
    Which player did the referee say was offside?
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 15:39

3 Answers 3


This goal is absolutely regular (according to offside rule)


When the cross is kicked there are no players in offside. Then the goalkeeper deflects the ball over the bar (or the ball arrive directly over the bar), and in this moment (if the video screenshot is at the right moment) there is only a player in offside (near the left bar of the goal "numer 1"), but this player is a not-active position.

So the player that score the goal (number 3) is in a regular position for offside rule because the last defender is over (number 2).

In my opinion watching the video is more easy to understand than looking the screenshot

  • 2
    If the cross-hitting player had passed to players in an offside position, or if players in an offside position had interfered with the play in some way (blocking the goalkeeper's vision or ability to get to the ball, interfering with a defender, etc.) then the goal would not have counted. However, I don't see a player in an offsides position. There's a defender just a few yards in front of goal that appears to be behind all the attacked. I believe Ale is right and that the goal should have been allowed.
    – Duncan
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:29
  • 1
    @hhh the player is not in offside when the ball hit the crossbar, I add an image to understand when the position should be checked
    – Ale
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:35
  • 1
    @Ale I see. You are right. This should be a goal -- the referee did not probably see the player 2. +1
    – hhh
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:37
  • 2
    Here's my theory as to why the referee called offsides. Player 1 (as labeled in the picture by Ale) is in an offsides position when the ball is headed in by player 3 (though he wasn't when the ball was originally crossed). It's possible the referee thought he was affecting play somehow (distracting the defenders, making them think offsides would be called, etc.). Personally, I don't think that he was, and he didn't touch the ball after the header (from what I can tell), so in my opinion the goal should have been allowed.
    – Duncan
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:42
  • 1
    @Duncan the video shows that firstly the referee allowed the goal (so he believe it was regular), then he saw the linesman with the flag up and he called the offside. So the error was probably on linesman decision
    – Ale
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 16:47

No, the goal should have been allowed. The referee was incorrect in calling offside here.

Contrary to what has been suggested in other answers, the only time offside position should be evaluated for the purposes of determining when an offence has occurred is when the ball is last touched by a teammate.

p. 36 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game (emphasis mine):

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.


A player in an offside position is only penalised 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

If this was not the case, attackers would not ever be able to run past the second last defender and challenge the goalkeeper for the ball like this and this. Note in both of these incidents, the scoring player was in an offside position when the ball was last touched by the goalkeeper.

Therefore, the only time that offside position should be judged is when the cross was played into the area, as shown in the following screenshot.

Positions of players when ball was crossed in

At this point, you will notice that there are two defending players closer to the goal line (the goalkeeper, and the white defender standing directly in front of him) than every other black player.

p. 36 of the 2015/16 FIFA Laws of the Game

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

As none of the black team are offside when the ball was last touched by a teammate, they are all free to challenge opponents and play the ball until it is next touched by a teammate (when each player's offside status will be re-evaluated).

  • -1 "Contrary to what has been suggested in other answers, --" this is vague, this is not suggested at any answer. We have long time ago concluded with Ale that no player is in offside position -- the question has been why did the referee conclude offside? Duncan reasoned that the lineman thought the player 3 to be offside (even though originally not). Other chance is that the player 2 was not seen by the lineman/referee as in my answer. Downvote removed if false suggestion removed.
    – hhh
    Commented May 11, 2016 at 6:57
  • It's not vague at all. Ale's answer suggests the player is offside by including a line drawn across the field when the ball is touched by the goalkeeper. This is completely irrelevant and utterly confusing to readers who have no background knowledge. The only time a line should be drawn is when the original cross is made. If the misleading image is removed, I'll consider removing the paragraph. By the way, the question wasn't 'why was this ruled offside?', it was 'should this have been ruled offside?'. Commented May 11, 2016 at 8:30

This should be a goal as pointed out by Ale due to the player 2 (red in Ale's picture).

The referee did not probably see the player 2. The referee's decision not a goal probably relies on the part 3 of offside rule if player(s) offside at the point of the crossing shot. Otherwise I would count this as a regular goal but the lineman's flag means that there must have been a player(s) in offside position before the crossing shot.

The point 3 of the Wikipedia link above is bolded below

  1. Interfering with play, not satisfied.

  2. Interfering with an opponent, can be argued to be satisfied.

  3. Gaining an advantage by being in an offside position

"playing a ball that rebounds or is deflected to him off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent having been in an offside position; or that rebounds, is deflected or is played to him from a deliberate save by an opponent having been in an offside position" (FIFA, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees)

where the referee probably concluded that the third is satisfied.

  • I was there, the keeper did end up punching ball slightly.
    – Unlimited
    Commented May 10, 2016 at 17:06
  • -1 No-one was offside when the ball was last touched by a teammate. That is the only time that offside is evaluated. It should not be reevaluated when the ball touched the crossbar or an opponent as you have implied here. What the rule you are quoting says, is that if a cross/shot is deflected off the crossbar or goalkeeper, players that were standing offside when the cross/shot was originally kicked may not then play the ball, even if they were standing onside when the deflection occurred. Commented May 11, 2016 at 3:07

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