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In a football match, a forward walks back in an offside position, but not included in any play. Ball gets played from the middle of the pitch, a defender heads it and it goes to the forward 1 - linesman puts flag up immediately, as the ball is played. Is that too early. 2 - The forward gets the ball, is he offside?

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That depends on the situation. Assuming that defender tries to save the ball with their header the attacking player would still be in an illegal offside position.

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: (...)

  • gaining an advantage 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
  • 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.

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).


If the defender was not just saving the ball (or trying to) the situation would be legal according to this part:

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.

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