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Question Number: 34075

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/9/2020

RE: rec Adult

Peter Barry of Leicester, Leicestershire United Kingdom asks...

The attacking player is dribbling at speed toward goal and kicks the ball past the defender who is facing him. The attacking player runs in to the defender and falls to the ground losing possession. The defending player is also knocked over. At the moment of contact the defending player is standing still and not moving. Has a foul been committed and if so by whom? The attacking player for running in to the defender, or the defender for being in the way of the attacker and obstructing him?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Peter,
a collision, as in a coming together, can be part of play with no foul occurring, however, USUALLY - if a player has ball possession and the opponent is trying to challenge for that possession, if no ball contact is occurring it is -MOST likely- the opponent has fouled the attacker by creating the conditions for the collision as in a impeding , charging, tackling or tripping free kick foul. If the defender is doing it to break up the attack or in a aggressive fashion the defender could also be cautioned or sent off depending on the severity/force /reason for the collision.

The attacker can not just shove or barge a defender over who happens to be just standing in the way. If the attacker simply put their head down & carelessly, recklessly or violently tried to run though or over an opponent that was simple in front of them then the attacker likely lost his or her ball control and was trying to draw a foul because the dribble /touch was too heavy and or the ball is headed into touch. For such a blatant action the attacker could be cautioned or sent off depending on the severity/force /reason of the collision.

Your supposition that a stationary defender is under no obligation to move out of the way is basically correct. A player is entitled to his piece of the pitch as it were, but look at how ANY movement to do so reflects the chosen path of the attacker's run? Was it a calculated shifting into the path under the pretext of forcing an altercation given there is no ball to contest? In other words are you 100% positive he was simply standing there? Its not the like waiting to head the ball or awaiting a corner kick into the PA and the other guy two hand shoves you, grabs you or climbs up on your back? The attacker has pushed a ball PAST you, as a defender in pursuit, there is a far greater likelyhood you will try to stop, delay or catch up to him then have him deliberately or even carelessly steamroll over you.

Most often the defender will try to turn & run wide in hopes of forcing the attacker to run around him thus delaying him as opposed to simply shifting sideways to block. Often an arm goes out wide as well to hold or slingshot and stay with the attacker. Holding your ground as the defender to draw a charging foul will mean not only are you not moving to intercept & or setting an illegal pick like in basket ball in advance of that run starting.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Peter,
This sounds like a YHTBT (you had to be there) moment. Without seeing the incident in question, it's virtually impossible to say what the decision should be here.

As you describe it, I would say this could go any one of three ways: foul by the attacker, foul by the defender or just an unavoidable "coming together" with neither player at fault.

This would be totally down to a referee's judgement call, based on the wording of Law 5, which states:

"Decisions will be made to the best of the referee's ability according to the Laws of the Game and the ‘spirit of the game’ and will be based on the opinion of the referee, who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game."

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Peter
Players are entitled to their position on the field of play so if a player does nothing other than just stand there making no movement then the attacking player is guilty of charging an opponent punished by a direct free kick.
In all my days refereeing I can only recall one occasion when I called such a foul against an attacker. I felt that he had lost possession of the ball and that by deliberately running into his opponent he was looking to be awarded a free kick.
Now we know that players are rarely not moving so it has to be really blatant that the attacker has charged the defender before that foul can be awarded against the attacker
The vast majority of the time it will look like a foul by the defender and only experienced officials with a good knowledge of the game will pick up the charging foul.

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