Women Do Not Understand The Offside Rule. It Is A Fact Of Life, And You’re Going To Have To Deal With It.

Women do not understand the offside rule. It is a fact of life, and you’re going to have to deal with it[1]. Some will say ‘it’s just a silly rule. Nobody cares’. Well, it is not just a silly rule, and I care. It’s important. In fact this is one of the most imperative issues of the present era. How can people hope to get by in life without appreciating when a play is or is not offside?


But don’t worry. I am male, and therefore have an innate knowledge of the matter – an inborn genius if you will; and by explaining the offside rule in simple, straightforward terms, you too will understand how the mechanism works.

A player is offside when their team-mate passes the ball to them, without first checking that no opposing player – their opponent – is non-adjacent. Even if there is a goal-keeper. Unless the goal-keeper has left the goal-area, and there are two opposing out-field players who remain between their opponents and themselves.

Wait. No. Okay: you cannot be offside unless somebody passes to you. But you may become active if you touch the ball; or move towards it. Or interfere in a goal-keeper’s line of sight. But if you cannot move out of the way, then you are not offside. And if the ball hasn’t touched you then you’re not offside either – unless you tried to kick it, and merely missed. Unless you were a certain distance from it.  Actually, the referee could call it either way.

Perhaps an analogy would help.

If you were painting a mountain, a landscape layout would be more horizontally inclined than a portrait. That we know. But suppose you wanted to paint an egg? You may wish to place it at the base of the mountain – like, say, in a field – or perhaps in a condor’s nest, perched on – or in – a crevice. Before you could even begin to sketch – let alone paint – the egg, you would need to have a paintbrush. Or a pencil. And that is how the offside rule works. You cannot do one thing without first doing another; or at least without ensuring you haven’t done something that you shouldn’t beforehand – although set circumstances may make this negligible and therefore irrelevant to any refereeing decisions. 

In fact, just to make it crystal clear, let’s look at it a different way. What if you had a dining table, with a pepper pot, a salt shaker, a bottle of vinegar, and maybe a glass of olive oil all arranged carefully upon it in rows? Now, if you move the pepper pot forwards, and the salt shaker backwards, that would be offside. Unless the olive oil also moves forwards. Sideways would make no difference. However, if the vinegar also moves backwards, then none will be offside; but if the oil, the vinegar and the salt all move forwards simultaneously, then the pepper would, well…hang on. No. Because if the…now, if the salt and the pepper moved without the oil….actually…

Look, it’s just a stupid rule that nobody understands, cares about or will ever have any earthly need for. Except referees; and nobody likes them. Period. Honestly.  

[1] See ‘Sky Discipline Andy Gray & Richard Keys Over Comments’ by BBC News; 24th January 2011: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/9371642.stm  

Needless to say, those condemning Gray and Keys’ comments had very strong views – some of which were not entirely objective. Personally, I thought Rio Ferdinand’s opinion was the most sensible: “I’m all for women refereeing in football, discrimination should not happen in our game at all … prehistoric views if u think otherwise.” Although I still wish people wouldn’t type in shorthand.