What is offside in Football, and How is it Determined?

Offside is one of the most critical rules in football, and it can be a source of frustration for fans, players, and coaches alike. This article will provide a comprehensive guide to the offside rule, including its definition, exceptions, and controversies. Whether you’re a die-hard football fan or a casual spectator, this guide will help you understand one of the most critical aspects of the beautiful game.

What is Offside in Football?

In football, a player is in an offside position if they are nearer to the opposition’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last defender, including the goalkeeper. Being in an offside position is not an offense in itself, but a player who is in an offside position when the ball is played or touched by a teammate can be penalized if they become “involved in active play.”

How is Offside Determined?

Offside is determined by the position of a player’s body when the ball is played, not when the pass is made. If any part of a player’s body that can legally score a goal is beyond the second-last defender (including the goalkeeper), that player is in an offside position. The moment a teammate plays or touches the ball, the player in an offside position must move to a position on the field where they are no longer involved in active play. If the player does not move or becomes involved in active play, the referee will award an indirect free-kick to the opposition.

Exceptions to the Offside Rule

There are some exceptions to the offside rule. For example, a player cannot be offside if they receive the ball directly from a goal-kick, corner-kick, or throw-in. Players cannot be offside in their half of the field.

Controversies Surrounding the Offside Rule

The offside rule is one of the most debated rules in football. There have been several controversies surrounding the interpretation of the rule, including whether a player is “actively involved” in play and whether a Video Assistant Referee should use VAR (video assistant referee) technology to determine offside decisions. Despite the controversies, the offside rule remains an integral part of football.


The offside rule is a crucial aspect of football, and it can be unclear for fans unfamiliar with its intricacies. By understanding the definition, exceptions, and controversies surrounding the offside rule, fans can develop a deeper appreciation for the beautiful game. So, the next time you watch a football match, keep an eye out for offside, and you’ll be able to appreciate the rule’s importance in the game.

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