The offside rule is like a freemason’s handshake: to those ‘in the know’ it needs little explanation; yet to the uninitiated it remains beyond comprehension.
It was introduced to prevent ‘goal hanging’; a common practice in school play grounds but strictly forbidden in grown up football.
Attacking players must therefore remain onside. There must be at least two players from the defending team (including the goalkeeper) in front of them (i.e. between their position on the pitch and the goal they are attacking) when a team mate passes the ball.
If he or she is in a more advanced position they will be deemed offside.
There are several exceptions, subtleties and nuances to this rule. Only two are important.
First, all players, officials and supporters dispute decisions which go against their team. Second, no England player is ever offside!
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