Entries related to Shielding

Question:
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.

Categories: Shielding

Question:
Before a corner kick or a direct kick or an indirect kick, the team with the ball is placing a player directly in front of the keeper. Also, that person is screening the keeper and is pushing backwards on the keeper and trying to push the keeper into the goal.

The screening player will do everything to prevent the goalkeeper from getting in front of them. I believe this is a violation of “Impeding the Progress of an Opponent”. All this is happening before the kick is made and when the ball is put into play. What is the ruling?

Answer (June 2, 2012):
What you describe is actually pushing or holding, both direct free kick offenses that should be punished by the referee. (Unfortunately, many referees do not recognize this and make no call or fail to bawl out the goalkeeper.)

It is a general principle underlying the Law that players are not permitted to “play” the opponent rather than the ball. Except under certain conditions spelled out in the Laws (such as at a penalty kick or throw-in or goal kick), a player is permitted to stand wherever he or she wishes. After the ball is put in play, a player who — without playing or attempting to play the ball — jumps up and down in front of the goalkeeper to block the ‘keeper’s vision or otherwise interferes with the ‘keeper’s ability to play the ball is committing the foul of impeding an opponent. If there is contact initiated by the player doing this, the foul becomes holding or pushing. When such activity occurs, the referee should immediately stop the restart and warn the players to conduct themselves properly. If, after the warning (and before the restart), they do it anyway, they have committed unsporting behavior and should be cautioned. The restart remains the same.

Before the ball is in play, the referee can simply allow the opponent of the ‘keeper to impede, wait for the restart to occur, blow the whistle, award an indirect free kick coming out, and card if needed. This is the “harsh” approach and it carries the danger, provided the jostling doesn’t sufficiently enrage the goalkeeper (or any other defender), that the tensions or violence will escalate to something more serious. It is also not a good approach when it is an attacker who is doing the jostling.

The referee can see the situation developing and verbally and/or by a closer presence encourage correct behavior on the part of the jostlers in the hope that they will cease their misbehavior. This is the “proactive” (some would call it the “wimpy”) approach and is more likely to prevent escalation, if it works. If it doesn’t work, the referee can always hold up the restart, caution, and then signal the restart or go to the option above.

Such actions against the goalkeeper can also occur during dynamic play and are very often missed by both referee and assistant referee.

SHIELDING VS IMPEDING

September 20, 2011

Question:
Corner Kick-shielding. During a recent U12 Girls game I was officiating, the blue team was awarded a corner kick. Blue player took the kick but miss hit the ball. The ball traveled forward about 6 feet towards the goal. The kicker, realizing that she could not kick the ball again since it would constitute a two touch violation, yelled at her teammate to come in and get the ball. The red team defender who was next to the blue teammate also ran towards the ball to try and gain control of it.

Question: Would it have been OK if the blue team player who kicked the ball ran between the red team player and ball to shield her from getting the ball (with the understanding that the ball would have been within playing distance of the blue team player who kicked it) and give the blue teammate of the kicker a better opportunity of getting the ball by swinging behind the two players?

If the kicker was not allowed to legally play the ball again immediately due to the two touch rule, can she still be involved in the play and shield the opposing player from getting the ball?

USSF answer (September 20, 2011):
Shielding the ball does not establish or continue “possession” of the ball. The Blue player is technically unable to actually play the ball, because to do so would constitute the “second touch.” Being within “playing distance” should not be considered sufficient to allow the kicker to shield the ball – the ball must in fact also be playable by that player. In other words, the concept of “playing distance” must include being able to play the ball legally.

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.

SHIELDING VS. HOLDING

September 8, 2009

Question:
If a player is screening the ball and it is in playable distance, is it legal for the screening player to raise their arms to make it harder for the opposing player to get to the ball?

USSF answer (September 8, 2009):
Under normal circumstances, “screening” means that there was no physical contact. Here is a citation from the 2009/2010 Laws of the Game, Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees (IGR), has to say on the matter:
“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 in 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.”

When physical contact occurs, which is what the IGR means when it refers holding off an opponent, the act has been converted into “holding” and is punished with a direct free kick. The shielding player is allowed to use a normal amount of arm and elbow room, but not to extend his/her arms beyond that range.

Question:
U14G game. Two opponents are aggressively pursuing a 50/50 ball in the open field. Blue arrives at the ball an instant before yellow. Blue’s first action, with the ball now directly at her feet, is to shield the ball from the fast approaching Yellow player by moving her body sideways directly into the path of the oncoming Yellow player. Blue player has a more woman-like body. She’s at least a foot taller than Yellow and is widest at the hips. The Yellow player, with a more girl-like body, goes flying over the hip of the Blue player.

In my judgment since Blue arrived at the ball first (albeit only by an instant) and since she was clearly within playing distance of the ball, her act of shielding the ball was legal. In my opinion, the fact that Yellow went flying through the air was the result of her own carelessness. Accordingly, I did not whistle and allowed play to continue.

First, based on these facts was that the correct call?

Second, it is also my opinion that Blue knew that her act of shielding the ball would cause a violent collision between the two and that the smaller girl would be more adversely affected by such a collision. (These were two talented, aggressive players, probably the best on each team, who had been going at each other for some time prior to the collision.) Could Blue ever be called for a foul in this situation? If so, what do I look for to determine a foul occurred.

USSF answer (October 22, 2008):
A player who is within playing distance of the ball — as determined by the referee, not the player — is permitted to interpose her body between the ball and the opponent. The fact that she is larger makes absolutely no difference. If she chose to put her hips in a particular position before the opponent arrived, life is hard for the opponent. Unless you are absolutely certain that the shielding player has physically moved her hip during the actual contact, thus using a part of her body for a purpose that is not permitted — charges have to be shoulder to shoulder, even for women — then there has been no foul here.

Question:
I am hoping that you can clarify an issue for me: Impeding the progress of an opponent is noted in Law 12 as a foul awarded an IFK. In the ‘Additional Instruction for Referees’ in the back of the Laws of the Game (p61 of the USSF 2006/2007 edition) under the heading of ‘Screening the Ball’ it is noted that a DFK is awarded if a player prevents an opponent from challenging for the ball by illegal use of the hands, arms, legs or body. I am confused what the distinction would be between a ‘impeding’ call (IFK) and the ‘illegal screening’ call (DFK). Can you help?

Answer (September 27, 2007):
There is no difference at all. “Illegal screening” and “impeding” are one and the same thing. are referring to a player who holds an opponent. Holding can be done with the arms, legs, or body.

Under normal circumstances, “impeding” means that there was no physical contact. When physical contact occurs, which is what the “Additional Instructions” meant when it referred to “illegal use of the hands, arms, legs or body,” the foul has been converted into “holding” and is punished with a direct free kick. The Additional Instructions of 2006/2007 are now outdated, by the way, by the 2007/2008 Laws of the Game.

Question:
Last sunday’s USA v Brazil, Eric Wynalda pointed out many things regarding the rules of the game. One in particular was that if you are shielding the ball, you have the right to push back into a defender who is standing behind you. My question is: do you? And I suspect the answer is depends on whether you make contact only or push back so hard the defender loses footing…

Answer (September 14, 2007):
In one sense Mr. Wynalda is correct — as long as you have and keep the ball at your feet (within playing distance), you could move backwards even if this puts you in contact with an opponent behind you. Where you would get into trouble is if you did this but, in the process, left the ball outside of playability.

All viewers of games and television broadcasts would do well to remember that some players and broadcasters tend to make up their own rules as they go along. After all, if you make your own rules you are never wrong, and that is Rule One for both players and sportscasters.

And in a follow-on question, the referee asked additionally:
ok, you make contact, fine, no foul (I have nevr called a foul at this point), but then you keep digging in and pushing back hard, and then the defender is pushing you forward, but your feet continue to hold…, seems to me that whomever dumps the other player causes a foul… what do you think? (had the exact scenatio today in a regional youth league. no one ever fell, the ball got kicked by a teamate….

Answer (September 17, 2007):
While the player may move backwards with the ball, he or she may not push the opponent out of the way. A player in a position, attempting to play the ball, may only be charged fairly.