Offside rule when goalkeeper is out- Explaining the regulation when striker is past the last defender

Offside rule when goalkeeper is out- Explaining the regulation when striker is past the last defender

Just when you thought you knew all the rules to football, Harry Kane’s disallowed goal against Chelsea in the second leg of the EFL Cup semi-finals made us realize that some rules are just a bit more complicated as compared to others.

The England international was behind Chelsea’s last defender but then, VAR ruled the goal out for offside. So, why did it happen? And what is the offside rule when goalkeeper is out?

Offside rule when goalkeeper is out- why was Kane’s goal disallowed vs Chelsea in the EFL Cup semi-final?

Law 11 of the IFAB Laws of the Game defines offside as:

A player is in an offside position if:

  • any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

The hands and arms of all players, including the goalkeepers, are not considered. For the purposes of determining offside, the upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit.

A player is not in an offside position if level with the:

  • second-last opponent or
  • last two opponents
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Offside rule when goalkeeper is out- why was Kane’s goal disallowed vs Chelsea in the EFL Cup semi-final?

It is the last paragraph that we must pay heed to. The player must be level or behind the last two opponents. This means that if the goalkeeper is caught up the pitch, the striker would have to be level with at least two outfield players, and the second-last opponent will be treated as the offside line.

That is precisely the reason why Harry Kane’s goal was also disallowed against Chelsea. Kepa Arrizabalaga was off his line so Kane was then supposed to be behind Chelsea’s second-last defender.

Is this rule fair?

Yes, it is, because in effectiveness, we forget that we take the goalkeeper’s position on the field for granted. Since the goalie is most normally the last man on the pitch for the defensive side, he is assumed to be negated in the offside scenario altogether.

If the rule was changed to include just the last player, opposition players will just hang around in the opponent’s box and wait for a long ball to find them. If the rule is edited to include only the last outfield player, the defensive line will know no bounds of just how high they can push up.

FIFA president Gianni Infantino backs Arsene Wenger's offside law proposal  | Football News | Sky Sports
Offside rule when goalkeeper is out- Explaining the regulation when striker is past the last defender

So, all in all, this rule is effective and should remain how it is. No one really complained about Kane’s goal being disallowed yesterday night, so it’s not like the regulation is a point of contention, to begin with.

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