Why was offside introduced, and are there reasons for keeping it?

The offside rule in football ( How is offside determined in soccer?) is the source of a large amount of goal-related controvesy, and is argued by some to diminish the entertainment value of the game.

4 Answers
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Being a football player since very young (I’m from Argentina 🙂 ) I just could explain my point of view.

When you have a casual game without offside, ball movement in the field is very weird: there is not much strategy filling spaces in the middle, and it is very common to just put the ball as far as you can in the opponent field. This makes the game more appealing, meaning matches have a lot of goals (like in 5 vs 5 games in a reduced field), but also make it more boring, as defenders being so close to their goalkeeperm make it harder to score. So the game loses a lot of balance in a big field.

There where some attemps to change the rule. I can remember a younger continental championship when the rule was enforced but only inside the goal area. That was the only test, but I remember defenders standing on that line, and not attacking because there were a lot of field to cover.

IMHO this rule enforces the game to be played in a smaller part of the pitch, and allow defenders to try to attack without leaving an empty space for an attacker. (although there are situations where the attackers just go alone, and counter attacks are common, but that only resides in the ability of the defending team in clearing the ball fast enough).

According to FIFA’s History of the Laws of the Game, the rule was always there, but was changed in time. At first, it looked a lot like rugby, because the law enforced all players not to be ahead of the ball. Then it changed into a 3 players rule (you need 3 players in front of you to not be offside). Some time later (but we are talking about a game that is over 200 years old), the rule was enforced using 2 players. Then the line was moved form behind the second player into the same line. The last thing I heard was that a board will propose a change to the rule, but as far as I know, there are not any words about it. (and please correct me if i’m wrong).

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