Punting Offside

As more and more youth leagues move to small sided games, new situations arise that can make you scratch your head for a second. Take this scenario: The older keepers in a U10 league can often punt the ball right in front of the opposing goal due to the smaller field, though most don’t because you just start a back and forth between keepers as they field each other’s punts. Some leagues have modified rules limiting the distance a keeper can punt the ball, but most don’t.

FIFA Law 11 (Offside) stipulates that there is no offside violation for Goal Kicks, Corner Kicks, or Throw Ins. However, it doesn’t say anything about a goalie punting the ball. A drop kick by the keeper is not a ‘restart of play’. It is no different than a regular player passing the ball as far as I can tell – AskTheRef.com seems to agree:

If the keeper, in your situation, is the team mate of the player in
offside position and this player was in an offside position when the
keeper last touched the ball, the player should be penalized for being
offside. It doesn’t matter whether or not the ball bounces first or was
touched by any other player in this case. If the ball was last touched
by the keeper and went to this player who was in an offside position at
the time the keeper touched the ball and this player interferes with
play or interferes with an opponent, she is offside.

So if Player A is in an offside position when his keeper punts the ball to him, according to FIFA, a) it IS offside and b) the opposing team should be awarded an indirect kick at the point the ball was last touched by the teammate (i.e. the keeper) which is usually at the top of the penalty box. Ouch. from the point where the offside player was when the ball was last touched by a teammate (i.e. the keeper). This is why I don’t center ref matches! Smiley I can never keep all the restart  and indirect vs. direct stuff straight!

This seems obvious when you think about it – but I’ve never seen it called this way. Granted, most of the time you find attackers who run into an offside position while the ball is in the air, thus it is not offside since the ‘last touch’, i.e. the punt, has already occurred. But I’d love to hear the parent reaction if the above situation happened and the defending team got an indirect at the top of the box. My mistake aside – I’m sure parents would freak over this call all the same. I’m surprised I haven’t seen coaches try to get their defenders to move toward mid field right before a keeper punt trying to draw an offside from any forwards still lingering on their end of the field. OK, I’m going to hell now for putting it that way, since one of you is bound to try it Smiley

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  1. One small correction. The restart is where the offside player was when his team mate last touched or played the ball. The restart for offside can only occur in the defensive half of the team taking the kick. Some times it is tough for the AR to remember whether it was a punt or a goalkick.
    Kudos though for knowing that you can’t be called for offside if you receive the ball directly from the goal kick…

  2. RefSteve – thanks for the gotcha. No idea why I brain locked like that as I’d always seen offsides restarts from the offending player’s position.

    As for the goal kick part – we had a match where a team kept their defenders just shy of midfield during goal kicks and we got called offsides non stop. After telling our kids to stay even with the defenders until the kick, we checked the rules afterwards to confirm our suspicions that there was no offsides on a goal kick. Trouble is, I think now some officials won’t call it for punts either!