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Question Number: 34183

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/31/2021

RE: Under 19

shane of philadelphia, pa Unites States asks...

There are two fouls in particular I have some trouble with and hope you can help

1. Reminds me of the charge/block foul in basketball. It is when an attacker with ball and defender run towards each other, attacker passes right before encountering them, and then after releasing the ball, runs into the defender, possibly even if they are a decent 3-4 yards away. I usually don't call anything since it feels like both players were using natural momentum without intent. Is this typically the right no call, and to only call a foul on either if you specifically see one go "above and beyond" through the other player after release?

2. Usually happens when an attacker receives a ground pass with his back to the defense, and frequently near the penalty area, a defender runs over to defend but runs into the attacker's back. Attacker doesn't go down but does get bumped forward a little bit due to the contact. I almost always call this a foul immediately because I know fouls in the back are one of the biggest instigators to game management issues (along with holding), and there was definitely contact made, but sometimes I wonder if I am too quick to call these as fouls. I rarely play advantage even if attacker doesn't go down because with their back to the goal and getting bumped forward they rarely would have an advantage to play

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Shane
On the first one it is a need to see it type call. For me these can go a number of way depending on context, position, intent and other factors. I have in the past ignored such contact or I have given a foul against the defender and in some instances I have given a foul against the attacker.
I pay close attention to intent and why did it happen along with natural movements of players. If I see a defender go across and moves into the path of the attacker with what looks like intent to stop the player then that gets called.

The opposite of that is true if the attacker feels that he has lost the ball and runs into the defender then it can be a no call or in some instances if the contact is heavy it can be a charging offence against the attacker.
From what you say I think you are looking for the right things and making the best calls in the circumstances

In a recent WC Qualifying game I watched a referee ignore a call for a free kick by an attacker who looked to me like he ran into the back of a defender who had turned to go after the ball. The attacker went down in a dramatic way looking for a free kick. The defender wasn't even looking at the attacker as he turned away to chase the ball so in my opinion it was the correct call.

On the second situations we must remember that soccer is a contact sport. It is not akin to basketball so referees need to consider whether the contact actually fouled an opponent. In the modern game players go down easily on contact and in those situations where an attacker is facing say towards the touchline with no where to go it can be an easy tactic for the player to go down on contact looking for a foul.

Have a look at incident #3 in this video
Clearly there was not enough contact to justify the attacker being knocked over so there was no offence. The defender was looking for a penalty so he went down easily.
I do not know what was given yet every chance the penalty was called.
Having said all that I see pretty stupid defending by players who know that the opponent is going nowhere and they rush in making contact on the opponents back. If they simply stood their ground there is no need to make contact to give the potential for a free kick.
Again it is a judgement call for the referee based on what he perceives. As I said it is not basketball so we must allow a level of contact. What that level is depends on say the age level, the level of the game, context etc. Also the referee should look for tell tale signs of unnatural movement which can be a giveaway that the player exaggerated the level of contact.
A final word.
The key for me is consistency in a game. If a referee allows weak contact to be called then that has to be consistent throughout. That threshold has to be set based on the game on that particular day.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Shane,
My colleague used the term natural movements of players. All players have their patch of grass and are not obligated to give it up in a stationary setting but once one or both are moving a referee must decide what are their intentions in as much judge the consequences of any actions undertaken.

Is the defender moving to block or intercept the run of the attacker or is the attacker deliberately altering their path to ensure contact and draw a foul?

Is the ball being followed and the eyes focused on retrieving the ball but both are in the way of the other?

I tend to think as a defender you do not want an attacker running free in behind you and suspect their actions are usually designed not to let that happen. Some charging and late contact simply must be called. Even off the ball, I see a lot of body contact where the defenders do not allow the attacker to run into space without a blocking action or pushback of some sort as they try to stay with a fast running striker

The incidents of the attacker realizing their ball possession is lost or compromised and is looking to draw a foul, will try to push through a smartly positioned opponent out in front defending the space well, causing the attacker to run around rather than through. Again these actions might require a whistle if blatant.

Whether it is a charge, or impeding with contact a step on the heel trip or a push in the back you already seem to understand the difference between trifling and doubtful versus niggling foul or obvious foul and whether a warning word to take care or a whistle and let's not do that to a blatant act requiring a card. Your match Your decision Your reputation

Your 2nd question is a very difficult one for me because I constantly see the bump creates a loss of ball possession, particularly along the touchlines as the forward movement exaggerates the body to ball contact as uncontrolled and it rebounds out into touch. Thus the opposition seems to be rewarded with a throw-in for a subtle? push from behind causing the player to stumble lose control or and miskick the ball.

This seems to occur more than the player going down to draw a foul because you are frozen out along the boundary lines with no place to go.

There is too the butt out and arms wide to shield where the attacker is trying to back into the defender and perhaps pivot away so some contact is always going to occur.

Your decision again how much is trifling or doubtful in being ignored or what is a niggling foul versus an obvious foul? Exaggerated or delayed movements that seem suspicious. The speed of the rush, hands out in front?

My colleague points out the consistency issue. IF you are calling it to establish control, or maintain control or require some grab the match by the throat and choke it because it is out of control. You are not acquiescing to their demands or accepting dissent by simply being aware, keeping your ears open for the low-level rumblings as their tolerance level for acceptable non-interference is conveyed to you, you convey what is acceptable behavior by them. Too many whistles are irritating just as not enough whistles could be dangerous. Your match, Your decision, Your reputation!

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