adidas / November 2022

Offsides In Soccer: Explained

Watching a match? Get the scoop on the rules of the game, starting with the offside soccer rule, explained by adidas.

What is Offsides in Soccer?

Being offsides in soccer means that the opponent is closer to the goal than the second-to-last defender (the goalkeeper being the last defender for the team). It’s like lining up for a relay race, only to see that your competitor is a couple feet ahead of the starting line, and then someone tosses them the baton. Unfair advantage, right? The same principle applies in soccer on the line of defenders.

Is a Player Offside if They Don’t Touch the Ball?

Technically, players are only called offsides if they touch the ball when they are in an offsides position. So to be safe, players should remain in front of the last defender in case the ball is passed their way.

What Happens When Offsides is Called?

When the referee calls offsides on a player, the other team is given an indirect free kick, where the player must pass to a teammate before a goal is allowed to be scored.

Three Exceptions When Offsides Cannot Be Called:

  1. When receiving a ball from a throw-in, kick-in, or corner kick. This is because the ball is being played from the side of the field, so it resets the offside rules.
  2. When the defensive team has the ball, you cannot be called offsides.
  3. If a player is standing offsides but they do not come in contact with the ball, offsides will not be called.
Offsides can be tricky for referees to reliably call due to position and view on the field. Now that you know the soccer offside rules, watch a game and see if you can catch an offside player before the ref does. Level up your soccer knowledge even more by learning the penalty kick rules before watching your next match.
adidas / November 2022