I’m a Grade 8 referee in Colorado, and have a question about a tackle in the Chivas/ Rapids MLS match on March 21. At the end of the first half, there was an over-the-ball tackle on Kisuke Kimura of the Rapids that I thought warranted a sending off. It seemed not only reckless but excessive as the player came over the ball with quite a bit of extra force. Referee Terry Vaughn didn’t call it, and the second half deteriorated into a 4 caution scrappy battle. Firstly, and I’m not looking to discredit mr Vaughn, but what would’ve been the correct decision for this tackle, and secondly, how should a referee deal with over-the-ball tackles? I’ve always felt they are dangerous, reckless, and on occasion, executed with excessive force, thus always warranting a card of some sort. Mistakes happen, but lifting your leg 10″ off the ground for a tackle requires extra effort! It seems malicious, and almost always follows some kind of frustrating incident earlier in the match.
Anyways, that’s just my $0.02. I look forward to your response.
USSF answer (March 26, 2009):
Here is the Federation’s evaluation of the incident you asked about:
Just as half is approaching, Chivas player Sacha Kljestan goes in for a strong tackle in front of the Colorado bench. In this case, the tackle is reckless and a foul should be called as well as a yellow card issued for unsporting behavior. Referees need to distinguish this hard, reckless tackle from those that are committed with excessive force. Having the ability to distinguish the seriousness of the foul from the reaction of the team bench is a critical success factor in making the correct decision. Keys to interpreting this tackle as reckless are: (1) the shorter distance from which the tackle is initiated which means more control; (2) the position of the foot – closer to the ground and not over the ball; and (3) the fact that contact is made with the ball and not the player’s leg.
This is a hard and overly aggressive tackle that is reckless because of the position of the feet and the fact that contact is made with the ball. The tackle is not initiated from distance, thereby offering more control by the tackler. The leg is down toward the ground and not aimed over the top of the ball. If the cleats were to go over the ball and direct contact made with the opponent’s leg, the tackle could be considered serious foul play.