The History of the Offside Rule

The History of the Offside Rule

Even during the early years of soccer, the problem with players “goal hanging” was evident. Players would stand around the goal waiting for the right opportunity. In order to prevent this, the offside rule was born. Let’s take a look at the history of the offside rule.

The Offside Rule – 1863


The offside rule originated in 1863. A player was considered offside unless three players of the opposing side are in front of him (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is considered offside because only two players are in front of him.

The Offside Rule – 1925

The offside rule was changed in 1925. A player was considered offside unless two players of the opposing team are in front of him (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is NOT considered offside because two players are in front of him.

The Offside Rule – 1990

The offside rule was changed again in 1990. A player is onside if he is level with the second-to-last player of the opposing team (includes goalkeeper). So in the above diagram, the player with the ball is NOT considered offside because he is level with the second-to-last player.

Even though the rule has changed a couple times, many still have issues with the rule. Some say making an offside call is impossible and feel that FIFA should change the rule again. Only time will tell!

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2 Commentators

On April 8, 2013 AJ said

This isn’t accurate. None of these players would be offside under any variation of the rule, because in each instance the player is behind the ball. Offside only applies to players in front of the ball.

Also (at least in England) the offside rule in 1863 was not there to prevent goal-hanging. In fact, it was not a restriction at all, but was a liberalization. Prior to that, the offside line WAS the ball, and players had to be behind it. The change in 1863 allowed players to stand in front of the ball for the first time.

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