Out Of Bounds Player and Offside

Anyone watching the Netherlands v Italy match in Euro 2008 saw a Netherland’s goal allowed that seemed to be  offside – except there was an Italian defender out of bounds behind the end line. So many wondered if that player factored into any offside decision. The answer is Yes. The question was did he leave the field of play without permission and stay there. Here is a quote from the USSF Advice to Referees, Section 11.11:

“A defender who leaves the field during the course of play and does not immediately return must still be considered in determining where the second to last defender is for the purpose of judging which attackers are in an offside position. Such a defender is considered to be on the touch line or goal line closest to his or her off-field position. A defender who leaves the field with the referee’s permission (and who thus requires the referee’s permission to return) is not included in determining offside position.”

Since the player did not leave with permission (an injured player is given permission to leave and be tended to), he was part of the play and put the attacking player onside.

Why would I bring this obscure point up? Because a bunch of people are curious, given my search stats for today…


So I figured I’d post the answer people were looking for. Hat Tip to winchester73 and the other folks discussing this at the NC Soccer Forum.

Leave a Reply

  1. I was annoyed at listening to the commentary throughout this match by a commentator (and a back up crew) that obviously did not know the defender off the pitch rule.
    You are abso;utely correct in your observation the player was off the pitch making no effort to return…goal!

  2. Personally, I’d take the Laws of the Game from FIFA not the United States Soccer Federation.

    The FIFA rules state under the “ADDITIONAL INSTRUCTIONS

    “If a defending player steps behind his own goal line in order to place
    an opponent in an offside position, the referee shall allow play to
    continue and caution the defender for deliberately leaving the field
    of play without the referee’s permission when the ball is next out of

    Panucci did not step behind his own goal line in order to place
    an opponent in an offside position therefore goal should have NOT stood.

    If the ref and his assistant want to say he did, then where was Panucci’s yellow card??

  3. Nobody is saying he stepped off to try and place an opponent offside. He was bumped off the field. The key is that he did not return to the field when he had plenty of time to do so, thus the original quoted advice applies.

  4. Per UEFA general secretary David Taylor, re: Netherlands vs. Italy:

    “The goal was correctly awarded. Not many people, even in the game, and I include the players, know this interpretation (of Law 11),” Taylor said.

    He conceded, however: “The Law itself does not deal with this situation directly at all,” but said that referees universally interpreted it in the way that the officials did on Monday night.