Football Language: Interfering with play

interfering with playIn this football language post we explain the football phrase ‘interfere with play‘ which is sometimes heard in football when goals are disallowed because of offside. Don’t forget we have hundreds more explanations of football language in our football glossary and we also have a page full of football cliches. If you have questions or comments about this or any other phrase then email us at:

Football Language: (to be) Interfering with play

The verb ‘to interfere‘ means to obstruct or get in the way of something/someone and also has a meaning of to intervene when not really asked to do so. In football if a player is interfering with play it means that he or she is directly involved in the game when they shouldn’t really be. So, for example, if a player is standing in an offside position in front of the goalkeeper and another player shoots then the keeper may not be able to see the ball – the player standing in front of him/her is clearly interfering with play. However, if the same player is standing in an offiside position but away from the action then that player is clearly not interfering with play – they are not participating in the play and so a shot on goal would count.

Example: A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by: interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate… (Law 11: Offside – FA Website on laws of the game).

Example: Spurs had a goal ruled out against Southampton in the FA Cup as the ball hit Son’s foot in an offside position before it went past the keeper – he was clearly interfering with play.

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Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

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