Before you immediately say 'yes', let me explain why I asked this question.
According to Law 11, a defending player who leaves the field of play for any reason shall be considered to be positioned on their goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside. When it comes to attacking players, it is only said that they can step or stay off the field of play not to be involved in active play, but if they re-enter from the goal line they may be penalised for offside (Law 11.4).
But the Laws say nothing about an attacking player leaving the field of play as part of play. It is true that Law 12 now states that a free kick can be awarded if an offence is committed off the field of play provided the player left it as part of play, but it only refers to (physical) offences committed against another player (Law 12.4), so offside is not counted.
The new wording of Law 11 makes things even worse. The old 2015/16 Laws of the Game read that:
A player is NOT in an offside position if:
• he is in his own half of the field of play
On the other hand, the new 2016/17 Laws of the Game state that:
A player is in an offside position if:
• any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half
There is a huge difference between the two paragraphs: the old one allowed a player to be in an offside position off the field of play (because, indeed, he was not in his own half), whereas the new version implicitly denies that eventuality because any point that is not on the field of play is logically not part of the opponents' half.
Thus, here are my questions:
- what should a referee do if an attacking player, who leaves the field of play as part of play and is in an offside position at the moment the ball is played to him by a teammate, re-enters the field of play to play the ball — or stays off the field of play to commit an offside offence there (e.g. if the player interferes with an opponent by making an obvious action that clearly impacts on the opponent's ability to play the ball)?
- if the player is penalised for offside, where does play restart from?