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.

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