What Is Off-Side In Football And How Does It Works?

Off-side regulations: It has been quite frequent that you have seen your favourite teams erupting into a delirious frenzy of zany celebrations and then get deflated by a raised flag along the sidelines.

What’s worse is when it is a goal in the dying ember, changing the total complexion of the game and establishing the scoring side in a much-superior position only to be negated by a VAR intervention and told that the goal was disallowed for a breach of the off-side rule.

Off-side is one of the trickiest rules in the sport and fans have scratched their head over and over again to comprehend that what hellacious sin in the world got their goal disallowed. We will try and break down to you the rule of offside and how does it work.


What is an off-side position in football?

According to the FA laws of the game, it is not an offence on the player’s behalf to be in an off-side position. The question is when does a player get stuck in an off-side trap?

A player is stuck in an off-side position if any part of the head, body or feet is in the opposition’s half (excluding the halfway line) and any part of his head, body or feet is nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent player.

The arms and hands aren’t really considered into the offside rule and the highest cap in the arm that is being taken into account is that of a player’s armpit.


A player won’t be in an offside position if he is level in the same line as that of the second last opposition player or the last two opponents.

What leads to an off-side offence?

Now, there are a few instances where being in the offside position attached with an additional activity can lead to an offence. We will quickly take a look at what exactly leads to the umbrage.

A player in an off-side position at the moment when the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalized when:

  • he is interfering with play by either playing or touching the ball passed or touched by his team-mate or
  • interfering an opponent by preventing him from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the possession of the ball
  • attempting to play a ball when which is close when this action impacts an opponent or
  • trying to gain an advantage by playing the ball when it has been saved by the opponent or rebounded off the goal-post.

What doesn’t lead to an off-side offence?

Situations that do not lead to an offside offence also include receiving the ball directly from a throw-in, corner or goal-kick.

In case of an off-side offence, the referee grants an indirect free-kick where the umbrage was committed, including the fact if it was in the player’s own half of the field of play.

A defending player, who has left the pitch without seeking permission from the stickler, shall be considered to be on the touchline or the goal-line based on his position of exit for the purposes of offside until the next halt in play has happened, or the defender has managed to roll the ball towards the halfway line, and it is outside the penalty area.


An attacking player can roll out or move out of the field, but he cannot be actively involved in the ongoing play. However, if he is, the aforementioned rule applies to him too. In the case of both the defender and the striker, if they are leaving the ground with the referee’s permission, they will have to face caution from the referee before play resumes.

If an attacking player tends to remain immobile between the goal-posts and has not committed a breach of the off-side trap, then the goal will be awarded.

Now coming to the understanding of off-side, there may be situations where despite all the aforementioned rules being followed, the decision may still go against you. One of the latest instances of off-side resulting in heartbreak was when Chelsea started celebrating their last-minute goal against Leicester. VAR ruled that Ben Chilwell was in an off-side position when the goal was scored and as soon as the decision was made official, the Foxes erupted into delirious ecstasy.


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