December 6, 2016

Referee Advent Calendar - Door 6: DOGSO and Offside (Solved: Penalty Kick & Yellow or No Card)

Door 6 does not have a visualized match incident, but a Laws of the Game question for you. How would you answer if you were asked this in a test?

"You are refereeing an intense derby. Everything has been under your full control so far. Due to some goals and injuries, you award three minutes of additional time. The score is 1:2 for the away team. The home players try everything to score the late equalizer. The seconds are running down and you will surely get a good assessment. Already at 90+2:40. A last attempt for the home side. One of their midfielders precisely passes the ball into the penalty area. Another attacker is about to reach the ball 5 metres in front of the goalkeeper and only has to deflect the ball with his shoe in order to score the relatively sure goal. A defender seems to believe he has no other choice except pushing the attacker to ground to thus deny the obvious goal-scoring opportunity with the ball having only been 2 metres away at the moment of the foul.

You immediately blow your whistle, point to the spot and raise the red card for the defender when you suddenly notice your assistant referee is making some steps onto the field and wants to talk with you.

Having gone out to him, you ask: 'What's up?' He replies: 'He was offside. The attacker, I mean. He was offside.'"

What do you do?


First of all: You theoretically can change your decision until play has been re-started. Good referees put the correct decision above having been correct in the first place themselves. So: Never hesitate to change a decision based on new facts.

The attacker was denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by pushing. Pushing is an offence which still warrants a red card if a clear goal-scoring opportunity has been denied by that (be reminded on this graphic). Pushing is an offence punished by a direct free-kick.

However, the attacker was in an offside position at the moment of the pass into the penalty area. As he is going for the ball and the ball is rather close (2m can still be deemed as playing distance), let's assume that his offside position is punishable. Offside is an offence punished by an indirect free-kick.

Law 5 clearly prescribes that if two offences occur, the more serious one has to be sanctioned in terms of re-start and match sanction. This is the pushing here.

The IFAB's technical director David Elleray has written us upon our enquiry:

"The guidelines in the Laws of the Game give a clear list of priorities to decide if one offence is more serious than another. The first of these is the sanction which is disciplinary action and restart. Clearly an offence which is punished by a direct FK (e.g. holding/ handball) is more serious than one punished by an indirect FK (e.g. offside). 

Conclusion 1: We don't have to change the re-start. It still has to be a penalty kick.

In terms of the disciplinary sanction, a red card cannot be given: Law 18 suggests it already. If you, as an attacker, are in an offside position, you cannot have a clear goal-scoring opportunity. Hence, the defender's pushing did not deny a clear and obvious goal-scoring opportunity. If the foul had not happened, the attacker would have been flagged for offside most likely assumed that he would be deemed as interfering with play or an opponent. So: Actually the obvious goal-scoring opportunity never existed due to the offside position. 

Conclusion 2: We cannot give a red card here.

We recommend to issue a yellow card for unsporting behaviour though, especially for tactical and decision-selling reasons. Issuing no card is much harder to sell than giving at least a yellow card. But, from our point of view no card would be equally justified if the pushing is minimal and did not have a clearly unsporting character.

That's why we accept both solutions which are highlighted as green bars in the following diagram.

> Participants

Only 15% of you answered correctly. For those who wanted to give offside there: Be careful. The new laws demand something else. Violating the laws of the game is almost the worst case that can happen for a referee - so let's better avoid it.

Related Article: Holding and Offside Offence at the same time


  1. How about this,the player in the offside position did not involve in active play from the very beginning to the end,the defender handed the ball to prevent the attacker gets the ball(A very likely DOGSO).And what happend then is as what you've been described...

    1. In this case penalty kick + red card as the handball is more serious than the offside and therefore has to be punished in terms of sanction and re-start. If the handball was deliberate and denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the referee should thank his assistant referee for the input (even though the latter actually does not have to tell him so as it does not matter for the outcome) but has to insist on the decision "penalty + red".

  2. can anybody tell me when will be new fifa referees list announced ?


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