I have a reocurring issue that seems to occur at almost all youth levels of play, regardless of skill.  Player A & B go for a 50/50 ball, and through no fault of his/her own and no foul being committed, player A falls down over or near the ball. Player C (Player B’s team mate) comes in and strikes at the ball, endangering the safety of player A.

My call is player C is guilty of dangerous play and I award a IFK for player A’s team as my logic is player A did not intend to fall down or be in that position, it was Player C who made the decision to play dangerously.

Is this the correct call?  Please respond…my informal poll of peers seems to be split down the middle.

USSF answer (May 6, 2008):
Aside from recognizing that any issue involving a “dangerous play” foul requires us to take into account the age and skill level of the player, referees who observe what might seem to be dangerous play in the context of Law 12 must wait a moment to see what happens. 

If the player on the ground makes little or no attempt to get up or otherwise to stop “covering” the ball and, as a result, an opponent is prevented from challenging for the ball (in order not to cause danger to himself or the player on the ground), then definitely the player on the ground has committed an indirect free kick foul that we term “dangerous play.”

If the player is making every effort to extricate himself from the immediate area of the ball but a player on the opposing team challenges immediately and actively for the ball without making contact with the player on the ground, then it is the player on the opposing team who has committed the “dangerous play” infraction.

If, however, the opponent comes in without giving the player on the ground any opportunity to extricate himself, challenges for the ball, and in the process makes contact with the player on the ground, the opponent is not only guilty of a more serious foul (kicking — direct free kick or penalty kick) but could also be cautioned or even sent off depending on how violent the contact was.

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