Ever wonder how referees make an offside call?
The FIFA law, which led Bosnia-Herzegovina to be eliminated from the World Cup, is a lot simpler than you may expect. But, unless you've played the sport or are more than a fair-weather fan, the reasoning behind the offside rule in soccer may be a bit confusing.
As FIFA notes, it is not an offense for a player to be in an offside position, meaning the team member is closer to his opponent's goal line than the ball AND the second-last opponent (see picture below). A player in an offside position may only be called out if he is "interfering with play," "interfering with an opponent" or "gaining an advantage by being in that position" when the ball is touched by a teammate.
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So if the player is offside, but is not involved in the play, he cannot be penalized. The rule also does not apply to throw-ins, corner kicks and goal kicks, USA Today notes.
If that still doesn't clarify the offside rule, check out Slate's video explainer, above.
(Hat tip, Digg)