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Can you be offside from a goal kick?



Sergio Ramos and Antonio Di Natale Euro 2012 final 01

There are more arguments in football centred around offside than any other. The introduction of VAR (Video Assistant Referee) has made the situation more, not less controversial, with countless arguments about where lines on the pitch should be drawn and whether somebody is interfering with play or not.


However, there is one aspect of the game that should be definitively clear, and that is somebody cannot be offside if they receive the ball direct from a goal kick.


That has been the case since the laws of the game were first codified in 1863 and were deliberately framed in such a way to allow for this. In those days, goal kicks were taken from the goal line itself – not the edge of the six-yard box – which meant that almost every player on the pitch would subsequently have been deemed to be offside.



Even now, the law prevents a scenario where the opposition players could line up on the halfway line and simply step forward en masse as a goal kick was taken. This would do nothing for the spectacle of the game and make the average match very boring to watch.


Read: What is the raumdeuter position in football, roles and best players

Instead, there would be 20 players – all the outfield players from both teams – condensed to within a few yards of each other.


It should be noted that it is not an automatic offence to be offside – it only counts when somebody is active or interfering with play – although, as the great Bill Shankly once said, if a player is not interfering with play, he should not be on the pitch in the first place.


It is also worth noting that if an attacking player touches the ball before it reaches its intended target, then this can be given as offside because, in theory, this counts as a second phase of play.

In fact, it is not the en-vogue philosophy of most teams to try and play directly up to an attacker from the goal kick, with most teams preferring to play out from the back.


This is because it is a better way of securing possession and means that teams are not reliant on the traditional centre-forward, who can hold the ball up and wait for other players to join in the play.



Given that defenders will often outnumber the central striker, this carries a high risk of a turnover of possession.

In addition, many teams only play with one striker and may experiment with systems like “False-Nines” where the player’s physical characteristics tend to be smaller and slighter.

Read: What is the trequartista position in football? 5 best players ranked

At the same time, it is important to vary the tactics, and playing the ball straight up the field from a goal kick is still something worth trying from time to time, especially if the move has been worked on in training beforehand.


In that case, knowing that a player cannot be offside from a goal kick can help in the development of a subsequent attack.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.




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