The term alone should make you think. But first, let’s have a little history.
The rules were once written in such a way that here eleven, there eleven compete against each other with a ball, which has to be pushed into the opposite goal. All parts of the body are allowed to move the ball forward, except the arm and the hand. The body may be used, but the arm and shoulders must remain attached to the body. When in possession of the ball, one may also shield it with the help of one’s own body; conversely, this would be a block without the ball and thus in the list of entries for “irregular behaviour”. Playing the ball with the arm or hand also counts, as well as illegal body parts used in a duel. You can also do a lot of irregular things with your foot, especially in such a way that your foot does not reach and play the ball in a duel but hits the opponent with it. In this case, the intention with which one possibly deters the opponent and thus prevents his regularly planned and successful action is sometimes enough to classify it in the category of “foul play”. For foul play, the game shall be restarted with a free kick against the fouling team at the place of the infringement, and the opposing players shall keep a distance of 10 yards (9.15 metres). The dimensions of the field of play, the penalty areas as well as the goals are given so far, only length and width are variable within the framework. Violations of the rules as specified are to be penalised with a penalty kick within the penalty areas, provided that this is taken by the team defending the goal located there. A penalty kick is a direct shot on goal from the distance specified in the name, with no opponent in the penalty area, only the goalkeeper in goal, who must remain on the goal line until the shot is taken.
If the ball goes out of bounds, it is returned to the field of play with the hand of the team playing the ball out of bounds; if it goes out of bounds, there is a corresponding kick or corner kick.
Offside is the most complicated of all football rules and is defined in such a way that at the moment the ball is played, the targeted player may not be closer to the opposing goal line than at least two opposing defenders, including the goalkeeper. If there are less than two, play is restarted with a free kick to the opponent at the place where the target player was at the moment the ball was played.
Complicated or not or known to everyone: one might only question the sense of the rule or imagine a game without it. In any case, the purpose of the rule when it was introduced was to prevent individual attackers from simply “dancing on the goalkeeper’s nose”, i.e. standing directly in front of him, irritating him or, waiting for a long ball forward, standing ready to put it into the goal. The reason for this is that if the defending team wanted to counteract such a strategy, it would probably have to put an equal number of opponents opposite the attackers. Thus, the attacking party would even have the chance to decide on the number or position of the opponents. In other words, the defending team should be given a countermeasure, one could even call it a “tactical” means, with which it could keep attacks away from its own goal. This antidote is linked to the offside position of the opponents. They can no longer stay arbitrarily close to the opponent’s goal, the defenders have a kind of “say”. Whereby the position of the ball plays an important role: if you are behind the ball as an attacker, you cannot possibly be offside. This also makes sense: Goal approaches take place with the ball and not through the attackers moving forward. So if you push the opponent far back by keeping the ball in your own ranks as you advance, you will get more and more players in the dangerous attacking area, who can then score the goal, precisely by driving the ball towards the opponent’s goal.
A game without offside would turn football completely upside down tactically. It is not possible on the football pitch or generally on pitches with much shorter dimensions, on the approx. 100-metre-long pitches of a regular football pitch. Sure, you would have to expect a changeover period (as it has probably been tried out now and then in tests to play without offside), but then it would probably soon simply no longer be any fun. There are no limits to the imagination, but the assumption made here is: it wouldn’t work at all, not at all, a totally changed football game with then soon idiotic, unreal game scenes.
The dimensions and weight of the ball are also given.
Even if it doesn’t belong here at all: at some point, it’s okay to be reminded of how simple the game was actually designed to be – except for the offside rule, perhaps.