Deliberate play verse Deflection

When assessing whether an opponent’s touch to potentially negate offside is deliberate or not, two main factors should be considered: the player’s “control of the body” and “ability to control the ball.” To determine ‘deliberate,’ consider the following: 

1. Balanced: Check if the player is in a stable and balanced position before making the touch. This implies that they are not off-balance, moving away from the ball, or stretching for it. 

2. Orientation: Notice that the player is facing and has a clear line of sight to the ball.  

3. Time: Assess whether the player has ample time before executing the touch. This implies that they are not under pressure or rushed in their actions to play an unexpected ball.

Additionally, consider the player’s ability to control the ball comfortably with the possibility of: 

1. Possessing: Evaluate whether the player has the capability to comfortably gain control of the ball after the touch.

2. Passing: Determine if the player’s touch allows them an expected opportunity to pass the ball to a teammate.  

3. Clearing: Assess if the player’s touch enables them to comfortably clear the ball by kicking or heading it in a controlled manner. 

Effective and standardized communication between the Referee and assistant referees regarding deliberate or non-deliberate touches is crucial. To enhance clarity and consistency, the following communication protocol is recommended: 

1. Deliberate: In cases where the touch by an opponent is deliberate, the referee and assistant referees should use the term “Deliberate” or “Defender” to indicate a deliberately played ball by a defender. Following this, one should assertively communicate “Play, play,”; “Go, Go,”; or “Good, Good” to emphasize that play should continue. 

2. Not Deliberate: When the touch by an opponent is deemed non-deliberate, the phrase “Deflection” should be employed. Following “Deflection,” promptly convey “Offside, Offside” to alert everyone involved that play should be stopped. 

3. The term “Touch” should be reserved exclusively to denote a subtle touch made by a teammate on the attacking team. This information is crucial for the assistant referee to re-evaluate offside position.”