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Question Number: 32853

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/28/2018

RE: Select Under 13

Keith T of Las Vegas, NV USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32801

I called impeding without contact this weekend with an IDFK that went into the goal with no double touch so GK restart. Though my hand was up, everyone assumed DFK and so were furious I didnt award the goal. The coach said things like "but it was a foul" and "Ive never heard of such a thing in all my years", so while I know there are scenarios this applies (or it wouldnt be in the LOTG) it seems to resonate with the previous comments about it being rare, and so Im doubting my decision.

Situation was an attacker being fairly challenged for about 20 yds with multiple shoulder-to-shoulder contacts, but keeping control of the ball until a heavy touch that gave the GK a chance to run out for the ball. At that point the defender continued more than initiated contact, though much less than previously and I would characterize it as simple touching with insignificant force. However I did perceive him to force the run at a slight angle away from the GK and it looked to be an unfair obstruction for the attacker. After the game I explained to the coach there are two types of impeding, but I told him though they were was contact the impeding wasnt because of The contact. However when I looked up the LOTG language I hadnt realized that it said "any" contact, which sounds pretty restrictive (and I should have called a DFK).
On the other hand, statements like the following (I know previous guidance isnt official anymore but I wonder how much is still part of IFABs intent behind the current law), or the whole concepts of trifling and spirit of the law, seem like I still have room for judgment on "any" meaning "any":

USSF "Advice to Referees" once said "12.14 IMPEDING AN OPPONENT...If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum)."

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Keith,
I am assuming the INDFK was outside the PA given a free kick inside that is NOT on the PK spot can only be an INDFK . Good clue to the teams, aside from a raised arm by the CR. So whether or not you adjudge this foul correctly you did signal it would be an INDFK for what YOU believed was an impeding call which is NOT a DFK offence.

Thus in law you were 100% correct to go with that as your restart. Even if your interpretation of the actions may need some revisions from your mentors as to the heaviness of contact versus a picking action designed to cause the opponent to back off or try to reroute their run to avoid the potential for contact .

Given INDFKs are rather rare other than PIADM or some technical stuff inside the PA I would not think it too uncouth to simply inform the teams this is an INDFK.

I think any contact ie a wisp of hair or a gentle shirt brush certainly does not qualify as a holding type foul . The fact the ball is NOT within a reasonable playing distance and you are observing a blocking action to allow the ball to get out of play or allow a teammate to get to it is impeding and only you define the extent of ANY contact within the reasonable parameters of a holding charging foul versus a wee nudge.

I really unsure of how much weight the ATR now carries in USA soccer but I would think you use the FIFA guidelines above theirs. Given it appears there was a continuous bumping going as too to who is at fault you chose the defender, you chose an INDFK offence, be it a correct interpretation I think you likely know now it was suspect given the wording implies contact is to be upgraded. BUT that is of no consequence Your match your decision. You review and learn !

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Keith
The impeding IDFK is now so rare that I think that IFAB should remove it from the Law of the Game. I cannot recall the last time I saw an IDFK for this offence. In some ways the coaches comments reflect the rarity of the call.
I am around the game long enough to recall the old *obstruction* rule where there were multiple *contact* fouls in games punished by an IDFK.
In the modern game no contact on impeding usually results in no offence. There are always players moving into the path of opponents causing them to change direction etc. With ANY contact it gets considered as a direct free kick offence. Without it rarely gets called.
So in your example once there was contact it was a direct free kick offence. The amount or level of the contact is not relevant. It is for that reason that many referees do not call these types of contact seeing them as doubtful or trifling. In addition players have come to accept that there will be impeding and that it is not going to get called unless it ends up as obvious holding, hip check or other strong physical contact.
A few pointers
I think mechanics would have helped you here. In addition to the raised arm it is always a good idea to verbally tell the kicker and those close to the ball that it is Indirect. A loud shout of INDIRECT may have headed of the direct shot at goal.
Much contact of this nature tends to be doubtful or trifling. Players have become to tolerate a level of contact in such situation. Only call the obvious, blatant contact not where it has as you say insignificant force. In my game yesterday on two occasions a player pushed a ball beyond an opponent and then knowing he had lost the ball ran into the turned opponent seeking an easy foul. I just waved play on

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