Offside Rule – Usually, soccer rules are easy to grasp even by someone that’s watching the game for the first time in his life. You foul someone, you get penalized. You hit him in the box, his team gets a penalty. The ball goes beyond the marked area, it’s an out throw. Everything is really basic, except the soccer offside rules. This is one tricky rule and although it’s not in the original soccer cookbook (as in, it was added over the course of time) it’s a much needed one, so that’s why I’ll try to explain it a bit.
The offside trap rule only applies to attackers and it is meant to regulate both team’s positions on the pitch. Without an offside rule, an attacker could simply stay in the other team’s penalty box, receive balls and try to score. This would pin down the defenders and they would virtually be unable to play anywhere else outside their own penalty box, since their main job would be marking the striker that is lazying off in there.
It’s also a known fact that attackers generally don’t have the same effort requirements on the pitch, since they only need to participate in one phase of the game (the offense), unlike defenders and midfielders who have to participate in both the offense and defense, thus having to run more. So now that you know WHY the soccer offside rule is there, let’s see WHAT it is anyway.
There are two phases of the offside soccer rule: the offside position and the offside trap sanction. If an attacker is in an offside position, he will only be sanctioned if the ball is heading towards him and he has an intention to play it. Otherwise, if he skips the game, he will not be called, despite having a clear offside position.
An attacker is in an offside position if he is closer to the other team’s goal line than the ball and the second last opponent. You’ll often hear people say “he was in offside, because he was further towards the goal than the LAST defender”. This is actually not a correct statement, since this doesn’t take the goalkeeper into account, so the LAST defender is actually the second last, as the above mentioned offside rule shows.
So let’s say that team “Yellow” is attacking and “Red” is defending. The ball is at the feet of Yellow’s midfielder and the Yellow attacker is a few meters further to the Red team’s goal line, than the last Red defender. Then the Yellow attacker is in an offside position, but the referee will only call an offside sanction if the Yellow midfielder passes the ball to the Yellow attacker while the latter is in the offside position.
If you’re new to soccer, the offside rule might need a bit of getting used to, but you’ll soon be able to spot exactly how and why someone was called offside if you watch a few matches. Note that sometimes, the position of the attacker and the other team’s defender are so close together, that the referee will have hard time deciding whether or not an offside should be called.
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