With reference to your recent answer regarding deliberate handling and offside:

A long forward pass is attempted from attacker A1 to attacker A2, who is in an offside position. Defender D1 deliberately handles the ball to prevent it from reaching A2. Defender D2 is near A2, with no other attacker in the vicinity. D2 would have easily controlled the ball, assuming that A2 does not interfere, but for D1’s handling. Should we really caution D1 for a tactical foul, since the handling did not break up an attack? In deciding on whether to caution D1, doesn’t the referee need to determine whether a legitimate attack is possible?

USSF answer (June 11, 2009):
The referee must do what is best for the game in any situation like this. However, if a player gets away with a blatant deliberate handling offense once, he or she will do it again. The intelligent referee will be able to figure out what will happen to their game if that goes on.

In addition, you have introduced a potentially significant element tin your scenario that was not present in the original situation — the caution for a tactical foul presumes that the foul was tactical and this is what the referee has to decide.  The issue you are raising — which must also be taken into account — is whether the foul was intended to be tactical even if, in fact, it turned out not to be tactical.  In other words, the defender may not have taken his teammate into account (didn’t know his teammate was so close, knew his teammate was close but was a klutz, whatever) and thus, in his mind, he was indeed attempting to stop the opponents’ attacking play.  After all, the misconduct is based as much on the clear intentions of the perpetrator as it is on the actual outcome.

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