12

Nikica Jelavić was clearly in an offside position when he received the ball and scored, in Croatia's 3-1 win over Ireland, for Euro 2012. Having received the ball through one of Ireland's defenders though, the question is whether he was actively participating in the offence or not at the time. Well, was he?

I wrote this in a bit of a hurry, I'm well aware that he wasn't in an offside position when he received the ball from the Irish defender. The question is more on whether he was in an active or passive position when the ball left Modrić's feet, and if an off side should have been called before the defender send it to Jelavić.

  • @waxeagle just write on youtube: "Croatia Ireland" – Dor Cohen Jun 12 '12 at 7:49
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The crucial question here is whether Jelavić received the ball after it rebounded to him off an opponent, or if the opponent played the ball.

Because the Laws of the Game define offside as (Law 11, p. 33):

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

We are talking about the last point in this case. And, in the official interpretation of the Laws of the Game (p. 102), it is defined thus:

“gaining an advantage by being in that position” means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a goalpost or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position

(emphasis mine).

The referees obviously decided the Irish player has played the ball, therefore, this was not an offside. And I would say this was a correct decision, given the time it took the ball to pass through the defense line – it was not a quick rebound, the ball stopped there for a second. (But I could not find a close-up video of what exactly the Irish player did with the ball.)


After the question was amended: Note there is no such thing as “active” and “passive [offside] position” in the Laws of the Game, those are just jargon terms. For an offside to be called, the player must be “involved in active play” by one of the three exactly defined activities listed above.

The first one was definitely not the case here:

“interfering with play” means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate

The second one is slightly closer, but still, no go:

“interfering with an opponent” means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent

Jelavić did not obstruct anyone’s line of vision or movements, and he definitely did not deceive/distract the opponent, since the Irish defense probably did not see him at all.

Which leaves us with the last option debated above. None of the three points was fulfilled, therefore, no offside.

  • Yes, that's clear enough, there are reports though that an offside should have been called just after the ball left Modrić's feet. Thoughts? – user313 Jun 12 '12 at 10:15
  • 1
    I see no reason for such call – offside can be called only in the three situations defined above, none of which was the case just after the pass. (I have slightly amended the answer.) – Mormegil Jun 12 '12 at 10:32
  • Yes the camera behind the goal shows that Jelavić wasn't obstructing the goalie's field of vision, so it was an onside goal. Whether the goalie was (slightly) distracted or not, that's impossible to tell. Thanks. – user313 Jun 12 '12 at 10:37
  • If you look at the video that I linked in the question it looks fairly clear that an Irish player attempts to clear the ball but fails and the ball trickles through. I would consider that "played" by the defender. – wax eagle Jun 12 '12 at 11:54
  • @waxeagle That's not what's tricky about it, what's tricky is if an offside should have been called before the ball reached the Irish defender. The rule is open to interpretation, the ref decided that Jelavić wasn't actively participating in the offence and that's fine by me. But if it had happened in a Greece game I'd be furious. – user313 Jun 12 '12 at 14:32
4

The key man is Vukojevic, the other guy that's offside. He tackles towards the ball from an offside position and that's why Ward panics and hits the ball poorly. If Ward didn't see Vukojevic he'd take his time to clear the ball. Why does he have to defend against a player that's in an illegal position? It would have been so much easier to blow for offside than to let this one flow. If the ref blew no one would have any discussions now. The offside rule should be defined in a better way so things like this don't happen again. It's legal, technically, but it's really unfair, we are basically rewarding the attacker because he dull, slow and too lazy to get out of an offside position.

"Interfering with an opponent" means:- Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball.- Making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent

That's what Vukojevic did and i don't see a good reason not to interrupt the game right there. FIFA should provide more detailed laws in the future and not let the referees decide what to do. Their estimates are very often wrong. If you fall after a light bump (like the irish player did the whole game) you'll probably get a free kick but if you don't fall after a kick in the legs you most likely won't get anything. That happened in the Netherlands game. Huntelar was about to strike when he was kicked from behind by a Danish player. He didn't fall like most players do and no penalty was given when it should have. Eliminate the cheaters and make the rules clearer and easier to follow.

  • 1
    You are completely right in that had the referee stopped the game at the first pass, this decision would have been “correct” (i.e. nobody would protest). He had let the game continue, and this decision was also “correct” (i.e. he is able to justify it, ex post). This is not exactly a perfect situation. – Mormegil Jun 14 '12 at 9:48
3

Jelavic isn't in an offside position since he got the ball from an Ireland player,
you can see that the ball doesn't rebound off an opponent except the Irish player accidentally passes the ball to Jelavic (it's doesn't matter if the pass of the Irish player was on purpose or by mistake),
and according to FIFA rules an offside is called to a player only if the pass came from one of his team.
It doesn't matter that at the first pass Jelavic was offside.

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

-1

It is offside. In the first shoot, the player is clearly on the zone that the ball will go, and it offside. Then there is are some bumps on other players, and after that the Irish guy kicked it badly to his own goal. It's still offside, since the Irish player didn't try to pass it or played it on purpose.

It looks like he just missed the kick. It was offside, but last call is for the referee. IMHO this is the case: example 12 page 107

  • 3
    Look at my answer, the ball doesn't rebounds off an opponent as your example.. the Irish player accidentally passes the ball to Jelavic, it's doesn't matter if the pass of the Irish player was on purpose or by mistake. – Dor Cohen Jun 12 '12 at 7:43
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    I wrotte this answer a long before you edited the question.. But this is a matter on how you interpreted the position of the player. The IRE guy failed to kick the ball, but Jelavić was already in offside gaining advantage of his position. In fact the ball goes to his position before start bouncing and that should be called offside. – gbianchi Jun 12 '12 at 13:06

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