Definition of Offside

What is the meaning of offside in the sport of football / soccer?

Offside is one of the many rules of play in the game of soccer. A player is found to be in an offside position if, at the moment of engagement, he/she is positioned in the opposing half of the field and is closer to the goal than the second last opposition player. The last opposition player is in most instances the goalie, while the moment of engagement is usually a pass from a fellow teammate.

For example, if a midfield player is engaging his striker by passing the ball to him, if the striker is closer to the goal than the opposing defenders at the time of the pass, then he/she is in an offside position. Only the body, head and feet are considered when calling the offside, arms do not count.

Dictionary entry for Offside - One of the rules of the game of soccer / football.  Meaning and illustration.  Sports King Dictionary.

Offside is not an offense. The player is not penalized for being in an offside position. Referee simply stops the play and awards an indirect free kick to the defending team at the spot where the offside took place.

One of main roles of an assistant referee is to pay attention to offsides. He/she reports one by raising the flag. It is up to the main referee to make the final decision on if to call the offside or not.

The cases when a player is not in an offside position are:

- If he/she is not part of active play. For example, if the ball was not passed directly to him/her and she/he had nothing to do with the play going forward.

- If a player receives the ball from a goal kick, throw-in or a corner.

- If a player is in his own half of the field, he can not be in an offside position regardless of where the defenders are.

An offside has been a rule in football / soccer since the inception of the game.