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Interfering with an opponent (offside case study)

Interfering with an opponent, what is that exactly? In this blog post two examples fully explained. Both goals you’ll seem to count in the first place, but were disallowed. Some lessons about the Laws of the Game, plus some tips to manage the situation.

The first clip is from 2021 in the game between FC Twente and Heerenveen. The clip below starts at 7 min 20s. Important task for you: write down what your decision is and why. 

Interfering with an opponent in Eredivisie

So, what was your decision? Here’s with a few images what happened. The attacker is in an offside position at the moment of the pass, but doesn’t touch the ball. How can this be offside, you might think. Because he blocks the defender, he is interfering with an opponent. Below situation 2 a full text of the Laws of the Game.

How to manage such a rare situation

A situation like this is rare and referee Jeroen Manschot managed it well. He came over to the coach and explained why he disallowed the goal. Coach Ron Jans said to ESPN that he really appreciated this gesture by the referee, as the coaching staff thought it was a legal goal.

Reaction from the referee

Referee Jeroen Manschot realised during the game there was interference by the red attacker. Once the VAR confirmed the attacker was in offside position, the referee disallows the goal. “Then a double substitution takes place and I see the FC Twente bench and coach express dissatisfaction with the decision”, Jeroen Manschot explains to Dutch Referee Blog. “So I decided to use that moment to explain why the goal was rejected.”

Curious why he went himself? “Because the 4th official was busy with the double substitution, I chose to go myself, as then commotion will stop sooner”. By explaining such a decision it “provides more understanding from the people on the bench”.

Reaction from the players

Manschot says the players on the field understood almost immediately. The player who scored the disallowed goal also talked about the incident. “Yeah, my team-mate is in offside position, sets a block to help me, so it’s not a valid goal.”

But how would you ideally restart the game? More about that below.

Restart when interfering with an opponent

A reader pointed out to me as well the following about the restart. It’s in the Laws of the Game op page 100.

“In situations where a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent’s progress (e.g. blocks the opponent), the offence should be penalised under Law 12”

So a thought for yourself: how would you restart the game now?

Example 2: Daniel Stefański

The Polish refereeing team made a great call you can learn from in their game between Dynamo Kyiv and Slavia Prague. At first glance the goal seems to count, but the refereeing team was making sure to get clear what happened. Who were involved? Who was in offside position?

Below you can see the video of the match situation. But before you watch, try to write down the criteria for offside. Focus on interfering with an opponent. Below the video you’ll get an explanation, but it’s a good exercise to share your own thoughts first.

Match situation 2

You’ll notice the assistant referee moving away from the goal-line, because that is the signal a ball has crossed the line. But in the meantime referee Daniel Stefański keeps talking with assistant referee Dawid Igor Golis.

If you check the clip again, you’ll notice two players in an offside position. The goal scorer is not. The question now is: what is the role of the players in offside position? Do you know what the Laws of the Game say about this?

Referee Daniel Stefański

LOTG on interfering with an opponent

The Laws of the Game are clear on this matter. A player who is in offside position after a pass from a team-mate “is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by interfering with an opponent”. And this are the criteria for it:

  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

The latter is crucial, because that is what blue attacker 19 does. At the moment of the pass he is in offside position. When he walks away from the goal-line he runs into a defender, who has no longer the chance to play the ball.

So a great call by the refereeing team. Biggest lesson: always communicate as refereeing team.

Interfering with an opponent: Dawid Igor Golis has flagged.


  • Dick Sawdon Smith

    The decision to disallow the goal was obviously correct but I also like the referee’s subsequent action with the yellow card for dissent plus a yellow card to the substitute making comments from the dugout and sending the coach to the stands, As Jan has said, the World Cup referees did us no favours by reducing the yellow cards given. We must take action against this culture that it is OK to abuse the referee.

  • magdy rezk

    nterference with the opponent consists of 4 elements, the assistant referee must make sure that any of them even punish the player for the offside offence

    Interference with competitor B:

    • Prevent the opponent from playing the ball or the ability to play the ball by clearly blocking the opponent’s line of vision or
    • Compete against the opponent on the ball or
    • Clear attempt to play the ball close to it when this attempt affects the opponent or
    • Perform a clear action which clearly affects the opponent’s ability to play the ball

    But first we have to make sure that the player who committed any of these acts was already in the offside position Secondly, the player has already committed one of the four elements


    Top decisions. Foul is indeed by Blue #19. The action and look of the ASR is priceless and the yellow cards where spot on. Fully in control here. Great example.

  • Mookie

    First of all, great website. I am preparing for the start of youth refereeing and found the quizzes to be very, very helpful. We need more! There is so much we think we know until you take a quiz and realize some itsy bitsy detail has not registered well enough to cement your understanding of a law and how to apply it.

    The video is a very good example of a call that could easily have been missed. The crew demonstrated an eagle eyes on the situation and great communication to make a correct and gutsy call disallowing the goal; and to penalize the other offenses.

    Thank you. More quizzes and videos, please!

  • magdy rezk

    In this situation where a player moving from,an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence becuse it impact on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball

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