Can someone explain the rationale? I understand the need to have a off sides rule, but this rule seems to punish the offensive team....if the defense is out of position and too far up field, why should the attacking team suffer? Why not have the off side rule like in ice hockey where there are set lines where an offensive player cannot cross unless he has the ball with him or if the ball is already across the line. It would not depend on the position of the defense at all.
This would be easier to judge as well, as there seems to be a lot of arbitrariness in the current rule.