Soccer For Dummies, 2nd Edition
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The offside rule is the most debated soccer principle (no matter where the game is played), even though what is known as Law 11 isn't terribly difficult to grasp. Here’s what offside is all about:

A player is caught offside if he’s nearer to the opponent's goal than both the ball and the second-last opponent (including the goalkeeper) when his teammate plays the ball to him. In other words, a player can’t receive the ball from a teammate unless there are at least two players either level with him or between him and the goal or unless his teammate plays the ball backwards to him.

It’s not an offense in itself to be offside. A player is only penalized for being offside if he is deemed to be involved in active play. So a player can only be called offside if he is:

  • In the opposition’s half.

  • Interfering with play (that is, he’s part of the attacking move).

  • Interfering with an opponent (that is, he’s preventing the opponent from defending against the attacking move).

  • Gaining any advantage by being in that position.

A player can’t be offside from a goal kick, throw in, or corner.

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About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book authors:

Tom Dunmore is the author of Historical Dictionary of Soccer, and the editor of several soccer websites and blogs including XI Quarterly. He is an avid Chicago Fire fan. Scott Murray is a soccer writer for The Guardian and FourFourTwo.

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