A game with older teenage boys. There is a breakaway of two attackers, running at full speed. At the 18 yard line the striker gives a glancing kick. The keeper kneels on the six and easily collects the ball. The other striker continues running at top speed, leaps into the air & lunges at the keeper, who is still kneeling & still holding the ball. The attacker’s leg is extended, his cleats are up, and he is aimed at the keeper’s head. The keeper ducks, & the attacker misses. In the opinion of the referee, if full contact had been made, as the referee believes was the attacker’s intention, it would have excited the interest of the E-911 emergency ambulance, and indeed possibly the Grand Jury.

The referee is aware that the IFAB writes that any lunge at an opponent that endangers the opponent’s safety should be sanctioned as serious foul play, but until now these examples have always been for cases where the tackle or lunge did in fact make contact.

As the attempt to endanger an opponent missed, and no contact was made, the referee is unclear how the Laws should be applied. In particular, do the Laws regard this instance as Serious Foul Play?

USSF answer (April 20, 2009):
Nowhere does the Law (including the Interpretations and Guidelines for Referees you refer to) say that there must be contact in the situation you describe. Look at the four violations of the Law that embody this view:
– kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
– trips or attempts to trip an opponent
– jumps at an opponent
– strikes or attempts to strike an opponent

In such a case the referee should have no doubt, no fear, no hesitance. Players who behave like the striker you describe MUST be sent off immediately for serious foul play. No debate, no dithering. Just do it!

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