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I’m interested in the community’s thoughts on recent events. Since it is about officiating and offside, I know there's much room for interpretation.

I viewed a match at the U14 level where team A left 2 players in an extreme offside position for almost the entirety of the first half. Basically, the two remained at the corners of the 18 throughout without engaging play from teammates. I can’t decide if this is unsportsmanlike to the extent it doesn’t appear to be in the spirit of the game or if it represents a clever interpretation of the rules.

It may be noted that team A was the far superior side on the day. The two players did not engage the ball in any attacking play where their own team controlled events and never accepted a played a ball from a team-mate. They remained statues. A couple of offside calls went against them from careening balls through.

Here’s the kicker; it put the keeper off his game completely and he focused on these two intently. The coach was equally frustrated. A goal was indeed awarded when a defender forgot about the statues and offered an intentional pass back to his keeper and it was intercepted by the attacker.

So, how would you interpret Law 11 in this instance?

  • It is only possible at U14 level and it was actually a very stupid play. Whoever coached the team was a fool and doesn't know a thing about football. BTW, what's the point of asking this question here? If you are seeking opinions of others, your question is off-topic. – user10632 Sep 9 '16 at 16:02
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    Perhaps you're correct on the off-topic and allow me to politely apologize if so; but the question I hoped was inherent is what if any ruling should the referee make in such events? Thanks for your reply. – Sean Sep 9 '16 at 17:19
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    No need to apologize because it was my opinion. I think it would be better if you could edit your question so that it could be more related with the rules even though I believe there is no rule other than the one related with off-side. – user10632 Sep 9 '16 at 17:31
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    Seems like he's asking if it's legal, which would be an okay question. Is it nice, not okay, but legal, okay. – Joe Sep 9 '16 at 19:06
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    BTW, this question is clearly about the legality of this tactic, and how the official should have handled it. It's completely on-topic and answerable in its current form. – studro Sep 13 '16 at 5:30
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This is nothing more than a poor tactic. Neither of these players can really do anything of significance until the ball has been deliberately played (other than a deliberate save) by an opponent or goes out of play. Until this happens, they're effectively leaving their team short by two players.

IFAB Laws of the Game, 121.2 Offside Offence:

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or
  • interfering with an opponent by:
    • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
    • challenging an opponent for the ball or
    • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent or
    • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

or

  • gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
    • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent been deliberately saved by any opponent

A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.

Law 11 makes no distinction between intentionally and unintentionally placing oneself in an offside position:

IFAB Laws of the Game, 11.1 Offside Position:

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

A player is in an offside position if:

  • any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

The hands and arms of all players, including the goalkeepers, are not considered.

A player is not in an offside position if level with the:

  • second-last opponent or
  • last two opponents

It is worth mentioning that Law 12 mentions that a player may be cautioned for persistent infringement.

IFAB Laws of the Game, 12.3 Disciplinary Action:

A player is cautioned if guilty of:

...

  • persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game (no specific number or pattern of infringements constitutes “persistent”)

However, it is a general understanding amongst referees (think of it as common law) that players should not be cautioned for persistent infringement when the infringement only harms their team eg. taking a free kick to oneself, incorrectly taking a throw-in, offside. This forum thread on RefChat highlights this:

Are there any circumstances when you might caution a player for being persistently penalised for being in an offside position?

...

No it's a technical offence, a bit like persistently taking a throw-in incorrectly, which you wouldn't caution for either

Another way of thinking of it, is that he is only penalising his own team

...

Actually I don't see how the striker is doing anything wrong beside being offside

If you consider that he's interfering while being offside, than give the offside

If he does it again, do it again

If he does it again, do it again

Who is he harming beside his own team in this scenario ?

This is contrast to offences which actively harm the opponents' ability to play should and hence should come under the guise of persistent infringement. Examples of this include repeatedly fouling opponents, encroaching at a penalty kick forcing a retake multiple times, consistently holding opponents at a corner kick before the ball is in play.

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