In Law 11 - Offside, Section 2 - Offside Offence it says that an offside-positioned player is penalised for offside if they have considered to have gained an advantage by

by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:

  • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar, match official or an opponent
  • been deliberately saved by any opponent

If a defender attempts to intercept a ball that has been played to an offside-positioned attacker who is through on goal, but miskicks it directly into the attacker's path, does this count as a deliberate save?

If this is the case, is the attacker penalised for being in an offside position?

  • 1
    Did the defender's foot hit the attacker in the chest, or did the ball hit him in the chest?
    – Fillet
    Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 7:05
  • This is not a deflection - as the question reads, the defender made contact with the attacker and not the ball. "the attacker was overtaken by a defender who attempted a desperate overhead kick, hitting the attacker in the chest". I'm voting to reopen unless the questioner clarifies this point. Commented Nov 5, 2017 at 23:57
  • If you can't tell whether a crucial point in the question is to one way or the other, it should be (kept) closed as unclear, not reopened.
    – Nij
    Commented Nov 6, 2017 at 9:59
  • I'm sorry I made this so unclear, the defender kicked the ball onto the attacker's chest, not his boot !
    – James Well
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 9:32
  • I don't see how that's a duplicate, in my case the defender actively played the ball, it is definitely not a case of "the ball deflecting off an opponent", my question is "does this fit in as a deliberate save"
    – James Well
    Commented Nov 7, 2017 at 16:27

2 Answers 2


This is tricky without being able to actually see the action, but it sounds to me like the attacker was "interfering with an opponent" and therefore offside. Quoting from Law 11.2:

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 an opponent by:


  • 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

If none of those conditions applied, you then need the definition of a "save" which is (from later in Law 11.2):

A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).

It doesn't sound like the ball was going into or very close to the goal, so you were incorrect to state this was a save, and similarly you would be incorrect to state that an attempt to save a throw-in is a save.

  • I'm loathe to leave another answer when you have already raised all the salient points, but I don't think the conclusion drawn is strong enough early on, so I'll have a go at answering. Commented Oct 26, 2017 at 23:41
  • I upvoted anyway, because it's a good summary of the relevant Laws. Commented Oct 27, 2017 at 0:01
  • @studro My interpretation of the question was that the ball hit the attacker rather than the defender, but I agree it's not clear.
    – Philip Kendall
    Commented Oct 30, 2017 at 13:37
  • looks like you were right. I've edited this question slightly to avoid it clashing with another one. You may wish to remove any information that is now superfluous so we can prod the asker to mark yours as accepted (since you did get in first). :) Commented Nov 9, 2017 at 3:12

This is not a deliberate save.

Law 11 - Offside, Section 2 - Offside Offence continues on to state that:

A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).

This is not a save, since the ball is not going into the goal or very close to the goal. Since this is not a save, but is still a deliberate play of the ball, the attacker is now free to play the ball without being penalised for offside.

  • what defines "very close to goal"? we've all seen crosses to the back post wind up in the goal ("was it a cross or a shot?"). if a cross that might have been goal bound is blocked by a defender going to ground and it loops up to the back post anyway and is put in by an otherwise offside attacker is that a "deliberate play on the ball" or a "save"?
    – lamont
    Commented Feb 18, 2019 at 8:31
  • @lamont The referee decides what is "close to goal". I'd say that your example would be a save rather than a non-save deliberate play. I can't really provide any specific document that provides advice to referees in this manner, as usually the referee's judgement on what is "close to goal" causes relatively few issues. Commented Feb 19, 2019 at 5:31
  • i was watching a championship game the other night which had a driven cross blocked (i think by the fullback) which then looped up and got knocked in at the back post. in this case the goal scorer was clearly onside. if the goal scorer was offside though it seems to me like that would have been a "deliberate attempt to play the ball". since the distance to goal was actually fairly large and the intent was clearly to cross (but "intent" becomes vague) i'd say it was not a save. but that means the review of the offside wouldn't have mattered either way.
    – lamont
    Commented Feb 20, 2019 at 20:27
  • All I can say is that the referee in each case would use their best judgement and their knowledge of football to determine what is close to goal and what isn't. At the highest levels of the game (such as the championship), it's probably clearer as to whether a ball is going towards the goal or not - at lower levels, it can be completely unclear (even to the kicker) as to where the ball is going to go, and as a result, the referee should probably give more benefit of the doubt to the defending team as to what is a save and what isn't. Commented Feb 22, 2019 at 0:12

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