I saw this situation in the recent Far West Regionals during pool play.
One defender and one attacker are battling for the ball. The defender slips and falls with her legs over the ball. Defender tries to get away from the ball and does not attempt to play the ball. The attacker holds her down by her shoulder and jersey not allowing her to get away from the ball. Referee calls dangerous play on defender. The sideline discussion: is the girl allowed to hold the defender down (some argued this is a smart play) and others argued she was holding and that the call should have been holding versus dangerous play. What do you think?
USSF answer (June 25, 2009):
Based solely on your description (the only evidence we have), we suspect that the referee has no courage and blew the call. It should have been called holding and the restart should have been a direct free kick for the defender’s team.
Some referees still seem to have the wrong idea about playing dangerously; to wit, they wanted a call for playing dangerously (and the referee on this game obliged, albeit erroneously). Nothing in the Laws of the Game forbids a player on the ground from playing the ball. As long as the player on the ground does nothing to endanger herself or other participants, there is no dangerous play. Let it be clear that it is dangerous for a player to hold the ball (lying on top of it, holding it with the legs, etc.) when on the ground. But it is not dangerous to make a legal play of the ball.