It must be noted here that being in an offside position is not considered an offence though such an occurrence is called offside offence and the player is referred to as offender. After a player is spotted in an offside position, the linesman shows the flag and the play is stopped by the match referee. An indirect free-kick is awarded to the defending side from the spot of the player in the offside position. In no way, offside offence is considered misconduct or a foul. The offending player is not sent off the ground nor even booked. Any play like scoring a goal occurring after an offence but before the game is stopped by the referee is annulled.

If the players continue such play, they may be warned and even booked as per the referee’s decision based on importance of the play or if it was intentional. The assisting referees help the referee in adjudging if a certain position was offside. The assisting referee’s position on the pitch is such that they can have a clearer view of sideways across the ground. They raise a signal flag to communicate that an offside offence has taken place.

The rules related to offside was changed in the 2005 edition and a new IFAB decision was included into the Laws of the Game. According to the revised rule, opponent’s goal line implies that any part of his body, feet or head is closer to the goal-line than both the second-last rival player and the ball. However, the latest revision has clearly specified that the definition does not include the arms. In other words, adjudging the offside position is based on three criteria:

  • Both the player and the ball are in the opponent’s half of the ground.
  • The player is nearer to the opponent’s goal-line and ahead of the ball.
  • There is one or no opponent player between the player in question and the opponent’s goal-line.

The keeper is considered an opponent player only in third condition. However, it is not always necessary that he will be the last opponent.

Irrespective of the position, it will not be considered an offside offence if a player gets the ball directly from a throw-in or a corner-kick. However, an offside offence may happen if the ball is directly received from an indirect or direct free-kick. Offside position is now adjudged as per the latest rules.