Entries related to Law 12 – Fouls & Misconduct
May 3, 2013
Question: I see a lot of players lowering their shoulder and then raising it into the another player as they make contact during a shoulder charge. Some refs call it a foul and others have said it is a legal charge. Is it foul for a player to lower their shoulder into another player during a shoulder charge?
Answer (May 3, 2013):
There is no clear definition in the Laws of the game as to what is fair in a shoulder-to-shoulder charge. The general definition is given in the USSF Advice to Referees:
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder,” this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent.
It may help to include some more information:
We define charging thusly: A fair charge is shoulder to shoulder, elbows (on the contact side) against the body, with each player having at least one foot on the ground and both attempting to gain control of the ball. The amount of force allowed is relative to the age and experience of the players, but should never be excessive. This is as defined by the referee on the game, not some book definition, adjusted as necessary for the age and experience of the players and what has happened or is happening in this particular game on this particular day at this particular moment. It all boils down to what is best for the referee’s management and the players’ full enjoyment of the game.
Although often overlooked by spectators, it is important to remember that a player’s natural endowments (speed, strength, height, heft, etc.) may be superior to that of the opponent who is competing with that player for the ball. As a completely natural result, the opponent may not only be bested in the challenge but may in fact wind up on the ground with no foul having been committed. The mere fact that a player fails in a challenge and falls or is knocked down is what the game is all about (and why coaches must choose carefully in determining which player marks which opponent). Referees do not handicap players by saddling them with artificial responsibilities to be easy on an opponent simply because they are better physically endowed in some way.
Fair charges include actions which do not strictly meet the “shoulder-to-shoulder” requirement when this is not possible because of disparities in height or body type (a common occurrence in youth matches in the early teenage range where growth spurts differ greatly on an individual level within the age group). Additionally, a fair charge can be directed toward the back of the shoulder if the opponent is shielding the ball, provided it is not done dangerously and never to the spinal area.
The arms may not be used at all, other than for balanceÑwhich does not include pushing off or holding the opponent.
Children of the same age differ in their development. They and we have to live with it. No foul if there was no offense other than being larger or faster. As noted above, the decision as to whether the force used is excessive is up to the individual referee.
And let’s also add that if the use of the shoulder appears to the referee to involve the use of excessive force, then it should be punished with the sending-off of the miscreant.
March 13, 2013
What is going on here? Why didn’t the referee caution Newcastle’s Steven Taylor for unsporting behavior in this incident?
Answer (March 13, 2013):
While the referee was taking an inordinate amount of time in dealing with the wall, Steven Taylor was playing mind games with the goalkeeper. If what Taylor did had occurred at the taking of a corner kick, it might have been actionable, and some referees would be within their rights to do something about it if they felt it to be actionable under those circumstances. But the normal and prescribed “action” at the corner kick is usually a clear warning to the player to stop what he was doing. In this case, the referee took no action at all, although he plainly noticed Taylor jumping around. (You can see this in the video.) He was too busy establishing the distance of the wall to be proactive for the ‘keeper.
Solution: Treat such matters the same way in all cases: proactively warn the player—in this case, Taylor—and then, if his behavior continues, let the kick occur, whistle (cancel any goal), caution for USB, and restart with an IFK for the defending team. That would certainly make the would-be scorer rather unhappy with the miscreant (Taylor here), even if the free kick had been so well-taken that the miscreant’s actions played no part in the goal.
Let me be up front about this. I like Steven Taylor; he is one of my favorite pranksters (remember the ball headed to the ‘keeper from last year). He knows what is legal and what is not, and he knows when to stop, even if the referee does or says nothing about his antics. In this situation any misconduct could not be punished (and thus the goal could not be disallowed), because Taylor stopped his antics and returned to an onside position several seconds before the whistle was given for the kick. And neither the referee nor the assistant referee took any action, making Taylor’s deed “legal” in this particular case. And, other than a few minor complaints, there has been no official reaction to the incident in England.
And if we wish to be fair, referees have to admit that goalkeepers have been doing much the same thing for years:
March 3, 2013
In futsal, can a goalie stand on the edge (but still inside) the box but then lean to cath the ball outside of the box? I know this is illegal in outdoor soccer but someone told me the rules were different in indoor.
Answer (March 3, 2013):
It’s the same answer as in outdoor soccer. All the referee cares about is where the ball is when the ‘keeper touches it. Where the ‘keeper’s body is doesn’t matter. So, if the whole of the ball is outside (not in contact with any part of the line defining the penalty area), then it is a DFK foul for handling of the ball. The only difference in futsal is that this violation is recorded as an accumulated foul against the goalkeeper’s team.
March 3, 2013
NOTE: This is a two-part query, with the original response to the first question prompting the second question. Both are relevant to the question of 1 March 2013 on Impeding an Opponent.
On January 19th, 2013 you stated that under Law 12, “Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body,” and that referees should intervene in this early.
However, often when the ball is rolling out of play (particularly for a goal kick), a defending player will “shield” the ball out of play, not allowing the attacker to reach the ball, even though the defender has no intention of playing the ball. This sort of blocking off would normally considered a foul in general open play or on free kicks.
Why has this action become standard in this one situation? A referee cannot even call this a hold now because no else does and it shows a lack of consistency.
Answer (March 2, 2013):
You seem to be confusing “holding,” a foul which requires contact, with “impeding the progress of an opponent,” which involves ZERO contact initiated by the person doing the shielding. And impeding the progress of an opponent also requires not being with playing distance of the ball, which does not figure in holding.
Does that answer your question? If not, let me know and I will try to do better.
First of all, thank you so much for taking the time to respond and so quickly. I understand the difference between the two fouls now that you have explained it. However I do require a bit more clarification:
Often there is significant contact when the attacker is trying to get to the ball. Sometimes a “fight” for the ball commences. Again, the defender has no intention to play the ball (even though it is within a yard or two of them) and the ball is taking several seconds to roll out of play. Often defenders will not just shield the ball normally, but will make a sudden, aggressive lunge to step in front of the other player, with arms out wide, which initiates the contact.
At the pro level (or at the amateur level, when playing indoor for side kick-in’s) it happens every game, but at times it seems so aggressive that it could be a foul. When would it cross the line into being an “impeding progress” foul and why is it never called? Does being within “playing distance” of the ball entitle a player to these types of actions, even if they have no intention to ever play the ball? What is to prevent several players from surrounding a ball (all within playing distance) and not allowing the other team to get to it in order to run out the clock?
I have heard occasionally commentators talk about the need to crack down on it because the referee would not allow it elsewhere on the field. Is it a matter of culture influencing referees interpretation or is this action (however aggressive and no matter the place on the field) always allowed according to the Laws of the Game?
Follow-on Answer (March 2, 2013):
Do you really mean a “fight,” or simply two players (legally or illegally) using their bodies, including shoulders, to gain (or retain) possession of the ball? That is certainly legal, as long as there is no holding (using any body parts to restrict the movement of the opponent) or pushing (with hands or other body parts to move the opponent).
Here are some definitions that may be helpful to you:
It is legal to “charge” an opponent fairly: The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder” and without the use of arms or elbows, this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent.
Holding an opponent includes the act of stretching the arms out to prevent an opponent from moving past or around. A player who blatantly holds onto or pulls an opponent or an opponent’s clothing to play the ball, to gain possession of the ball, or to prevent an opponent from playing the ball could be cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior. (Up until last year it was required for blatant acts of holding, but that changed in 2012.)
“Impeding the progress of an opponent” means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.
The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).
I have little time for indoor soccer and do not keep up with the rules, which vary from arena to arena (except in professional leagues). In the case of the “circle of friends,” the referee can always add time–at least in the outdoor game of soccer–or possibly consider the act to be one of time wasting, for which the players could be cautioned for unsporting behavior and shown the yellow card. (That would be a bit extreme, but certainly useful in cases where the amount of time in a period of play in a tournament game is limited by the rules of the competition.) In all events, if this is done anywhere on the boundary lines of the field, the player who is contesting for the ball ia permited by the Law to pass over the touch line or the goal line to beat an opponent or a “ring of friends.”
Playing distance has nothing to do with playing the ball in any particular manner; it means simply that the player could play the ball immediately if he wished to do so.
In my opinion—and others are welcome to their own—most commentators, at least those on television and radio, have absolutely no clue of how the game should be called, even those former players who didn’t know the rules when they played and know even less now.
March 1, 2013
This question relates to impeding an opponent. This little incident frequently occurs both in 1- a-side and 5-a-side in which i participate, and i can’t help but wonder if it is the attacker at fault rather than the defender in this case.
What happens is, an attacker will make a forward dribble and approaches a defender who hopes to stop him passing. As they reach near-touching distance, and the defender is ready to make the tackle, the attacker will pass either left or right to a team mate and then quickly dash forward in a straight line, to receive a one-two exchange. However, he occasionally plows through the defender as if he did not see him standing there. This can sometimes result in injury for the defender who was not aware of this forward dash, and there are usually pleas for obstruction against him. Has the attacker drawn this foul, knowing that there is a body in the way that is unlikely to react at such short notice? Or must the defender attempt to quickly move and allow him to pass?
Note: This question was asked by a player, not a referee. After a first response to him, he added: “Many times i have been rushed by an attacker in this way. Recently i was knocked over badly, was dazed and came to find that he had been awarded a free kick. I have felt that not bracing myself for the collision could cause me injury, but still when the forward hits into me, he calls obstruction even though i have not moved from the spot. I will make sure to argue my case when the incident re-occurs.” [The answer that follows covers both questions.]
Answer (March 1, 2013):
What you describe is not impeding the progress of an opponent or obstruction, it is standing in territory that belongs to the player, in this case the defender. Every player is entitled to the spot of ground he or she is currently occupying. The forward has charged illegally and must be punished with at least a direct free kick. If he has knocked the defender over, then it’s likely also a caution (unsporting behavior) for reckless play. If he knocks him ass over elbows, it’s likely a send-off for using excessive force.
In brief, the defender who stands his ground does not have to move. However, this caveat applies: It is illegal for the defender to MOVE from one spot into another simply to stop the oncoming forward. If the attacking player moves into the defender and the defender has NOT moved, then and only then does the defender have the Law on his or her side — although many referees are too thick to remember it. If the referee is a right (you pick the word; my favorite would be ‘dunderhead’), the defender should be careful about protesting too loudly, as he is very likely to be cautioned.
February 10, 2013
A defender throws in the ball to a team mate who intentionally heads the ball to the keeper who catches it. Is this allowed or is the team trying to circumvent both the letter and the spirit of Law 12 which would result in an IDFK where the defender headed the ball to the goalkeeper?
Answer (February 10. 2013):
Let’s start off with an excerpt from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game” (2011/2012):
12.21 BALL THROWN TO THE GOALKEEPER
A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 by touching the ball with the hands after receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate. The goalkeeper is considered to have received the ball directly by playing it in any way (for example, by dribbling the ball with the feet) before touching it with the hands. Referees should take care not to consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper from a throw-in.
NOTE: The goalkeeper may always handle the ball inside his/her own penalty area unless he/she:
• Takes more than 6 seconds while controlling the ball with his/her hands before releasing it from possession
• Regains hand control prior to a touch by another player
• Touches ball with the hands after it comes directly from a throw-in or deliberate kick to the ‘keeper by a teammate
The restart for any of these infringements is an indirect free kick*.
Things have changed since 1992, when FIFA issued Circular 488 on July 24. The sense of the circular was encapsulated in an article in “Fair Play,” a no-longer published USSF referee magazine, in 1998. The article as quoted here has been modified by its author to reflect the change in the way the Laws are numbered (now Arabic numbers rather than Roman numerals) and the replacement in the Laws of “ungentlemanly conduct” by “unsporting behavior.”
What about players who seek to get around the Letter of the Law? In response to numerous queries from around the world, FIFA issued its Circular Number 488 on July 24, 1992. Circular 488 will not appear in the Laws of the Game, but must be known and understood by every referee. Because it directly affects the way in which the referee will treat time wasting, it is worthwhile to quote the Circular at length:
Subject to the terms of Law 12, a player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc. If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick in order to circumvent the amendment to Law 12, the player will be guilty of unsporting behavior and will be punished accordingly in terms of Law 12; that is to say, the player will be cautioned and an indirect free-kick will be awarded to the opposing team from the place where the player committed the offense.
Examples of such tricks would include: a player who deliberately flicks the ball with his feet up onto his head in order to head the ball to his goalkeeper; or, a player who kneels down and deliberately pushes the ball to the goalkeeper with his knee, etc.
In such circumstances, it is irrelevant whether the goalkeeper subsequently touches the ball with his hands or not. The offense is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12, and the referee must only be convinced that this was the player’s motive.
It is obvious from the text of Circular 488 that players who use trickery in an attempt to get around the conditions of the amendment to Law 12 must be dealt with immediately and firmly. The initiator of the trickery must be cautioned for unsporting behavior and the match properly restarted. If the ball was already in play, an indirect free-kick from the spot where the initiator touched—not merely “kicked”—the ball is appropriate. If the ball was out of play, the restart for a violation depends upon how the circumvention began. If the action began from a free-kick or goal-kick that was properly taken, the restart will again be an indirect free-kick from the spot where the initiator of the trickery played it, regardless of whether he took the kick or was further along in the sequence of play. If the goal-kick or free-kick was not properly taken, then the restart must be that goal-kick or free-kick. This could lead to a situation where the offending team has a player cautioned (or sent off for a second cautionable offense), but still retains the ball on the restart.
The Law was rewritten in 1997 to reduce the number of options available to players for wasting time. Playing the ball to one’s goalkeeper was traditionally used as a way of “consuming” time. By the time the Law was rewritten, the practice had become synonymous with time wasting. Normal interplay of the ball among teammates is not a matter of concern to any referee; however, the referee must be concerned with obvious deliberate attempts to circumvent the requirements of the Law. In this case the player using the deliberate trick to circumvent the Law is committing unsporting behavior, for which he must be cautioned and shown the yellow card.
One clue to the correctness of the player’s action is whether it is a natural part of play or is clearly artificial and intended only to circumvent the Law. In such cases, the action is considered misconduct whether it ultimately is touched by the goalkeeper or not.
This would also apply to a ball kicked by a player to a teammate, who then heads the ball to the ‘keeper. In most cases this would be considered to be a part of normal play.
On July 23, 2002, we stated:
If a goal-kick, taken by the goalkeeper, goes to a teammate outside the penalty area, who heads the ball back to the goalie, this does not infringe the requirements of Law 12. The referee must recognize the difference between situations during dynamic play, when opponents are constantly exerting pressure, and events developing from static situations, such as free-kicks, when the opposing team must be at least ten yards from the ball. The referee must always consider the distance between members of opposing teams as well as members of the same team before making the call.
And finally a direct answer to your question:
First, the situation involving a throw-in directly to a goalkeeper by a teammate of the goalkeeper is not an example of the so-called “pass back” to the goalkeeper, it is an entirely separate indirect free kick foul which is listed in Law 12. The only things they have in common is that the action starts with a teammate, followed by the ball going directly to the hands of the goalkeeper, and that it is one of several indirect free kick violations by a goalkeeper designed by the Laws of the Game to discourage instances when, because the ball is being held by the goalkeeper, opponents cannot legally challenge for control.
Second, the “trickery” issue is misconduct, not a foul, and is therefore governed by a different set of requirements (in fact, the misconduct itself is being committed by the teammate, not the goalkeeper, and the goalkeeper does not even need to touch the ball in order for the misconduct to be committed).
Third, as a foul, the “pass back” or the “throw back” offenses are rare; as misconduct, “trickery” is even more uncommon. Whereas the foul only requires the referee to see where the ball came from (kick from a teammate, throw-in by a teammate), the trickery offense requires evaluating what is going on around the play in question and why (in the opinion of the referee) the play was performed this way.
“Ttrickery” should not be considered if the opponents had a fair chance to challenge for the ball. If the referee decides they did not and that is why this sequence was performed, then “trickery” should be considered.
January 22, 2013
This question opened an intense debate on a referee discussion forum (http://www.bigsoccer.com/community/threads/where-did-this-cool-site-come-from-and-why-did-noone-tell-me.1981356/):
“A shot taken on goal is blocked by a defending player inside his own team’s penalty area. The defending player then starts to dribble the ball while having full control of it. Before the defender dribbled the ball out of the penalty area, the goalkeeper picked up the ball dribbled by the defender (his teammate). The Referee should stop the play and award an Indirect Free Kick to the opposing team.”
Some (including with reference to contact with high level referees) have argued that a dribbling player has not deliberately kicked the ball to the keeper within the meaning of ATR 12.20 (sepcifically Note (a)). Others have argued that Note (a) does not define deliberately kicked to the keeper, and that by the ATR definitions a dribbling player has kicked the ball (because the player has used the foot) and the kick is deliberate (because the player has control of the ball), such that the triangle and the violation are complete (though there could be possibility that the offense was trifling depending on other surrounding facts).
Would you care to share your interpretation?
Answer (January 22, 2013):
And the referees who cited info from the high-level referees are correct: there is no infringement of the Laws here.
Those who argue for saying the ball deliberately kicked is “not defined” are sophists (those who use a specious argument to deceive someone, in this case, themselves) and are full of hokum (a polite word for something apparently impressive or legitimate but actually nonsense). Pay no attention to those people behind the screen.
January 19, 2013
During corner kicks, some teams in our league (U14) place one or more players immediately in front of the goalkeeper to block his view of the play. In some situations, those same interfering players on offense deliberately crowd the keeper, making it difficult or impossible for him to make the play.
Is this legal?
Answer (January 19, 2013):
No, it is not legal, and the referees should be dealing with it. Shame on the for allowing it. The particular text covering this offense is in the back of the Laws of the Game, under Law (not “rule”) 12 in the large section on “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees”:
Holding an opponent
Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body.
Referees are reminded to make an early intervention and to deal firmly with holding offenses especially inside the penalty area at corner kicks and free kicks.
To deal with these situations:
• the referee must warn any player holding an opponent before the ball is in play
• caution the player if the holding continues before the ball is in play
• award a direct free kick or penalty kick and caution the player if it happens once the ball is in play
If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding him inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.
• A caution for unsporting behavior must be issued when a player holds an opponent to prevent him gaining possession of the ball or taking up an advantageous position
• A player must be sent off if he denies an obvious goalscoring opportunity by holding an opponent
• No further disciplinary action must be taken in other situations of holding an opponent
Restart of play
• Direct free kick from the position where the offense occurred (see Law 13 – Position of free kick) or a penalty kick if the offense occurred inside the penalty area
December 7, 2012
I’ve seen a disturbing occurrence on the fields of [my state's] soccer more than once lately and I’m about to scribe a blog entry about it. I just want to triple-check with you before doing so to make absolutely certain I am on the right side of the LOTG.
This has to do with the old “fake corner kick” trick. This is starting to show up more and more at lower levels of youth play. I saw it in a U12 girls game last weekend. Fortunately, that referee got it right – by allowing play to continue unabated.
But as I sat in the referee tent, a parent came over and challenged me on whether that was considered “trickery”. His source of information, unfortunately, was a referee in a previous match who cautioned the taker of the corner for unsporting behavior. I assured the parent that this in no way contravened the LOTG, and that, if said parent was relaying the story accurately, the referee got it wrong.
I am certain that the “fake corner” is allowed, but I want to make sure my blog entry is well-rooted in the Laws and that’s why I am contacting you.
My position is that the notion of “trickery” has a very specific meaning and application within the LOTG: and that is, specifically a player trying to trick the referee by circumventing the spirit of the laws. “Trickery” has no relevance in the context of player-to-player communication or play, whether it involves teammates or opponents. In fact, players try to “trick” each other for 90 minutes during every match through the use of skill and deception.
Just wanted to make sure I am on firm theological ground before preaching to the masses.
Answer (December 7, 2012):
NOTE: Answer modified 13 December 2012 to bring it up to date.
Trickery, at least under the Laws of the Game, is reserved for only one offense: Engaging in trickery to circumvent the goalkeeper’s limitation on handling the ball played from a teammate’s foot (the defender who initiates the “trickery” is cautioned, the decision does not require that the goalkeeper actually handles the ball, and the misconduct can occur during dynamic play or at a restart). This also applies at throw-ins: At a throw-in, referees should take care not to consider as trickery any sequence of play that offers a fair chance for opponents to challenge for the ball before it is handled by the goalkeeper from a throw-in. Trickery cannot occur at a corner kick under any but the most unusual circumstances.
The International Football Association Board (IFAB) changed Law 12 in 1992 in an effort to deal with trickery aimed at circumventing the requirement limiting the opportunities for the goalkeeper to handle the ball when it was deliberately kicked to him by a teammate. (Previously it had been legal for the goalkeeper to pick up the ball with his hands if the teammate had been outside the penalty area when he kicked the ball to the goalkeeper.) Players looked for and found crafty ways to get around the requirement and thus the IFAB adopted a new Decision 18 to Law 12 in 1993 (since incorporated into Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees Law 12). This Decision 18 specifically defined trickery as including (but not limited to) the teammate “using his head or chest or knee, etc.” That is now found in the Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees under Cautions for unsporting behavior: “uses a deliberate trick while the ball is in play to pass the ball to his own goalkeeper with his head, chest, knee, etc. in order to circumvent the Law, irrespective of whether the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands or not. The offense is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the letter and the spirit of law 12 and play is restarted with an indirect free kick”
One clue to the correctness of the player’s action is whether it a natural part of play or is clearly artificial and intended only to circumvent the Law. In such cases, the action is considered misconduct whether it ultimately is touched by the goalkeeper or not. Indeed, the misconduct should be whistled before the goalkeeper even has a chance to touch it.
The player who initiates the “trickery” is cautioned and shown the yellow card for unsporting behavior; the decision does not require that the goalkeeper actually handle the ball, and the misconduct can occur during dynamic play or at a restart. The referee must be sure that the sequence of play was indeed intended to circumvent the Law and to prevent opponents from having a fair chance to compete for the ball rather than have it unfairly handled by the goalkeeper. If, in the referee’s opinion, there was trickery, then it is the teammate who played the ball immediately prior to it going to the goalkeeper who would be cautioned.
The key to deciding whether or not a player is trying to thwart the Law by passing the ball to the goalkeeper without actually kicking it is whether the action is a natural one, a normal playing tactic, which is perfectly legitimate, or a contrived act, a “trick,” which must be punished with a caution for unsporting behavior.
Here is a quote from an article by an esteemed author, originally published in the USSF publication “Fair Play” (now sadly out of publication):
FIFA has demanded that referees deal quickly and firmly with timewasting tactics. One of the least understood forms of time wasting is trickery in passing the ball to the goalkeeper. This article describes trickery and how the referee can combat it.
Law 12 was rewritten in 1997 to reduce the number of options available to players for wasting time. Playing the ball to one’s goalkeeper was traditionally used as a way of “consuming” time. By the time the Law was rewritten, the practice had become synonymous with time wasting.
Normal interplay of the ball among teammates is not a matter of concern to any referee; however, the referee must be concerned with obvious deliberate attempts to circumvent the requirements of the Law. Players may pass the ball to their goalkeeper in any legal way and not infringe on the requirements of Law 12. It is when a player uses trickery that the referee must act. Trickery is any contrived scheme or unnatural way of playing the ball in an attempt to circumvent the requirements of Law 12 when passing the ball to the goalkeeper. Examples of trickery include a player who deliberately flicks the ball with the foot up to the head, so as to head the ball to the goalkeeper, or a player who kneels down and deliberately pushes the ball to the goalkeeper with the knee or head. [NOTE: If the ball is already in play, the latter infringement is punished at the discretion of the referee; this does not apply when it occurs at a free kick.]
If the ball was already in play, an indirect free kick from the spot where the initiator touched–not merely “kicked”–the ball is appropriate. If the ball was out of play, the restart for a violation depends upon how the circumvention began. If the action began from a free kick or goal kick that was properly taken, the restart will again be an indirect free kick from the spot where the initiator of the trickery played it, no matter where the kick was taken or when it occurred in the sequence of play. If the goal kick or free kick was not properly taken, then the restart must be that goal kick or free kick. This could lead to a situation where the offending team has a player cautioned (or sent off for a second cautionable offense), but still retains the ball on the restart.
If more than one player was involved in the trickery, the question as to which defender to punish can be answered only by the referee. The referee must be sure that the sequence of play was meant to circumvent the Law and to prevent opponents from having a fair chance to compete for the ball rather than have it unfairly handled by the goalkeeper. If, in the referee’s opinion, there was trickery, then it is the teammate who played the ball immediately prior to it going to the goalkeeper who would be cautioned.
The punishment for trickery is a caution for unsporting behavior, with the restart to be taken at the place where the trickery was initiated, not where the goalkeeper handled the ball. The referee does not have to wait until the ‘keeper handles the ball to make the call. The referee must only be convinced that trickery was the player’s motive for the act.
November 15, 2012
this question is about youth Ull-19
i am a fast learning referee who has learned alot in his two years of reffing,but there is one thing that bothers me the most.
i always fail to recognize a foul so here are some questions and please be clear/detailed what do the laws of the game mean when they say (under direct free kick fouls): jumps at an opponent, charges an opponent and what does impeding the progress of an opponent mean? Are there any other fouls that might not be mentioned in the laws?
Answer (November 15, 2012):
Both the “jumping at:” and “charging” fouls are punished with a direct free kick if they are done carelessly, recklessly (also a caution/yellow card), or with the use of excessive force (also a sending-off/red card). Together with “charging” and “impeding the progress of an opponent,” they are not described at any length in the Laws of the Game by the International Football Association Board (the people who write the Laws) because, as with many other things in soccer, “everyone knows that.”
1. Jumps at
Here is an article I wrote in 2006 for “Referee” magazine.
What is “Jumping At an Opponent”?
By Jim Allen
It is a general principle underlying the Law that players are not permitted to “play” the opponent rather than the ball. That is enshrined in the concept of “jumping at an opponent.” “Jumping at” means precisely that: launching one’s body toward the opponent. It can be from a standing or “flying” position. It can be done in two ways: (1) to intimidate or (2) in a feigned (really meant to distract or intimidate the opponent) or genuine but unsuccessful attempt to gain the ball. It is most often seen under the pretext of heading the ball, but may also be seen when a player launches himself through the air, feet first, to “tackle” away the ball.
Example. A8 is running upfield with the ball. Defender B3 jumps at A8 to startle him, causing A8 to flinch and lose possession.
What to do? B3 has committed the foul of jumping at an opponent if he does it in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force. If the foul was careless, the result would be a direct free kick (or penalty kick if committed within B’s penalty area) for team A. If the foul was reckless, the result would be a caution/yellow card to B3 for unsporting behavior and a direct free kick (or penalty kick) for team A. If the foul involved excessive force, the result would be a send-off/red card for B3 and a direct free kick (or penalty kick) for team A.
Normally contact is not required, as specified by the word “at” in the name of the foul. However, another form of “jumping at” an opponent is the two-footed tackle, which by definition has to be a jump — launching one’s body toward that of the opponent. If that two-footed tackle is for the ball, it is likely fair, but if the jumping player lands on the ball just as the opponent’s foot is kicking it, the referee should consider the tackle dangerous and punish it with an indirect free kick. If contact is made with the opponent, give a direct free kick. If it is reckless, caution it. If it is done with excessive force, send the player off.
Faking. Another form of “jumping at” is to make the foul appear to have been committed by the opponent when the player with the ball has actually committed it. That sort of foul is common in youth soccer, where some players jump into an opponent and, while doing so, turn their back. Since that essentially makes them an unguided missile, it highlights the danger of jumping at an opponent with the back turned. Direct free kick for the opponent’s team.
Where to punish? At the spot where the opponent was affected by the jump. If a player starts his jump outside the penalty area but completes it inside, the referee must give the direct free kick (or penalty kick, if applicable) inside the penalty area.
There are two things to remember about “jumping at” an opponent. First, contact is not required for the foul. The foul is in the intimidation or distraction of the opponent by the jump. Second, this is one of those fouls where the “rule of thumb” about “playing the player rather than the ball” is particularly apt as a shorthand way of viewing the offense — the foul is almost certain when the offending player is looking at the opponent rather than the ball.
“Jumping at” has nothing to do with the foul of charging. “Jumping at” implies carelessness on the part of the player, while charging can be done fairly. If a charge misses, it cannot be a foul at all, but the way in which it is committed could be considered to be unsporting behavior.
2.Charges an opponent
The act of charging an opponent can be performed without it being called as a foul. Although the fair charge is commonly defined as “shoulder to shoulder” and without the use of arms or elbows, this is not a requirement and, at certain age levels where heights may vary greatly, may not even be possible. Furthermore, under many circumstances, a charge may often result in the player against whom it is placed falling to the ground (a consequence, as before, of players differing in weight or strength). The Law does require that the charge be directed toward the area of the shoulder and not toward the center of the opponent’s back (the spinal area): in such a case, the referee should recognize that such a charge is at minimum reckless and potentially even violent.
3. Impeding the progress of an opponent
Impeding the progress of an opponent means that a player moves into the path of an opponent to block that opponent’s ability to play the ball, but does not play the ball himself. That is an indirect free kick foul. As to the foul of charging that you emphasized, this is exactly what I told you it was. It is not described in the Law because, as with many other things in soccer, “everyone knows that.”
October 29, 2012
I did a U-12 girls game today and had a tough call to make.
The keeper and the striker were both going for a 50/50 ball. As the keeper reached down to grab the ball, the striker kicked the ball into the net. The strikers follow through kicked the goalkeeper’s hand. The girl had to go to the hospital. I allowed the goal to score because the keeper didn’t have control of the ball. The coach came on to the field to help the keeper and then turn on me. He said that I needed to protect his players more. Did I make the right call by allowing the goal to score?
Answer (October 29, 2012):
In a word, yes! You did fine. The position of goalkeeper is the most dangerous on the field, as the goalkeeper is required to go up in the air and down to the ground in her effort to protect her goal and stop the ball. There is no rule that “protects the goalie” from contact initiated by other players — as long as that contact is not against the requirements for a fair charge and does not happen when the goalkeeper is attempting to release the ball for others to play — in other words, to punt or throw the ball out of the penalty area.
Let’s break this down into smaller parts to help make the entire problem understandable for referees, coaches, and players alike.
1. THE GOALKEEPER POSITION AND DANGER
Yes, safety is the referee’s first concern under the Laws. However, referees — and coaches and players — need to remember that the position of goalkeeper is inherently dangerous and the goalkeeper is allowed a bit more leeway than other players in placing him- or herself in danger and thus affecting how the opponents can act. Everything he or she does when attempting to clear a ball or take it away from an onrushing attacker is dangerous. Why? Because it is the ‘keeper’s job to stop the ball from going into the goal, no matter at what height above the ground it may travel. Unless the ‘keeper or the opponent did something that was careless or violent or reckless, and you indicated that they did not, then there was no foul, but simply bad luck. This is one of the lessons referees, players, and coaches need to learn.
Would we allow this for the opposing attackers? Not if it places the goalkeeper in danger that he cannot avoid. Is this inconsistent? Yes, but it is the way the game has always been played.
2. GOALKEEPER POSSESSION
The goalkeeper is considered to be in control (= possession) of the ball when the ball is held with both hands, held by trapping the ball between one hand and any surface (e. g., the ground, a goalpost, the goalkeeper’s body), or holding the ball in the outstretched open palm. And the “hand” in this case can consist of as few as one finger of the ‘keeper’s hand.
The Laws do not grant the referee (or, in this case, the coach) the power to extend the definition of goalkeeper possession, nor to legislate new meanings on the field of play.
3. PLAYERS’ RIGHTS AND FAIR CHALLENGES
The goalkeeper has no more rights than any other player, with the exceptions of protective equipment and not being challenged when attempting to release the ball into general play. When not in possession of the ball, the goalkeeper may be fairly challenged. And the fairness is determined by the referee, not the coach and not the player.
There is no rule that “protects the goalie” from contact initiated by other players — as long as that contact is not against the requirements for a fair charge and does not happen when the goalkeeper is attempting to release the ball for others to play — in other words, to punt or throw the ball out of the penalty area.
Any time a player (either a field player or a goalkeeper) raises his/her leg above knee level there is the likelihood that someone will be hurt. As age and skill levels go down, the referee must interpret both “possession” and “safe challenge” more conservatively. Something an adult player might be allowed to do is not always the same as something a youth player (U14 for example) would be allowed to do.
October 20, 2012
My understanding is the “shielding” is special case of impeding, and is legal only when the ball is going to cross a touch or goal line. My questions: a) is shielding also legal anywhere on the field, to keep the opponent from playing the ball; b) can the shielding player use his rear-end, arms, or contort his body in ways not associated with a natural upright playing stance, to achieve the shielding?
Answer (October 20, 2012):
Your current understanding regarding impeding and shield is slightly flawed. Fortunately, we can fix that. Let’s start with a quote from this year’s Laws of the Game and go on from there.
From “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees” (back of the book):
Shielding the ball is permitted. A player who places himself between an opponent and the ball for tactical reasons has not committed an offense as long as the ball is kept within playing distance and the player does not hold off the opponent with his arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.
Shielding (a) is not “impeding” in any form and (b) it can occur at any spot on the field, not only when the ball is about to cross a boundary line.
If the player can legally play the ball and the ball is within playing distance, the player may shield as a tactic to prevent an opponent from getting to the ball (provided, of course, that the shielding does not involve holding). If the player cannot legally play the ball or if the ball is not within playing distance, such shielding becomes “impeding the progress of an opponent” and should be penalized by an indirect free kick.
In response to your query part b (unnatural positioning), one way of attempted cheating during shielding is “making oneself bigger,” the same sort of action used in some cases of deliberately handling the ball. An example of this would be a player shielding the ball and extending his arms straight from the shoulders or moving them around, an unnatural thing to do. No player shielding the ball from another is allowed to use his (or her) arms or any other part of his body for other than maintaining balance — which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent. If the player is simply maintaining balance — in the opinion of the referee — then an opponent who initiates contact with the player who has the ball is guilty of charging illegally. If the player with the ball is holding out his arms or a leg not to maintain balance but to obstruct the opponent, the player has committed an indirect free kick offense, provided no contact occurred. However, if the player with the ball initiates any contact, then he or she has charged, held, or pushed (all direct free kick fouls) and must be punished accordingly.