An offensive player, with control of the ball, runs hard into a defensive player – literally taking the player off his feet and on his back. The player maintained control of the ball. If in the view of the referee it was unsportsman like conduct – essentially targeting the player – what and how would the call be handled? The confusion was since the player maintained control of the ball, you could not call it then since the ball would change teams. Another person said, a hit is a hit…the defensive player should have moved.

Any ideas.

USSF answer (November 4, 2008):
You need to stop talking about the Laws of the Game and their proper interpretation and application with people who clearly use illegal substances.

Let’s see if we have this right: A player violently runs over an opponent who refuses to relinquish his space on the field. Despite committing this premeditated mayhem, the player manages to maintain control of the ball. We wouldn’t want to call this a foul and serious misconduct, because then possession of the ball would change from the assassin’s team to that of the innocent victim, who clearly should have moved out of the killer’s way. Hmmm.

We hope the answer is now clear to you: No player is allowed to use violence while playing the ball or attempting to play the ball and/or the opponent. No player is required to give up space which he or she has taken legally simply because someone else wants it; rather, other players are required to go around a player in such a position. The fact that a player has committed violent conduct does not mean that his act is okay because he retained possession of the ball. Send off the attacker for violent conduct; restart with a direct free kick for the opponent’s team at the place where the foul and the violent conduct took place.

And please encourage your colleagues to read the Laws a bit more carefully.