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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34240

High School 6/7/2021

RE: Varsity High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

White player is controlling the ball at midfield. Blue player is behind, takes a couple steps and drops down, sweeps her legs around and slide tackles the ball away. One leg is in the air, about a foot above her other leg. White player falls over Blue's legs.

To me, this appeared to be a clean tackle. The outstretched leg was concerning, but in my opinion it was not raised to trip the opponent and just a result of the slide and tackle on the ball.
This happened twice with the same two players, within a minute of each other. I allowed both.

Should I scrutinize these types of tackles more and consider reckless or excessive force more liberally in these cases? Should raised legs during slide tackles flip a red light in my head? I know it is hard to judge based on text, so sorry if my description is wanting.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Thanks for the question. The description is somewhat hazy as I'm trying to envisage a slide the player sweeps both legs around and plays the ball. A legal slide tackle involves only one leg playing the ball which is the leg that most opponents falls over after the ball is played. A scissor tackle with both legs involved would be illegal.
In a fair sliding tackle one leg will be tucked under the player to assist in balance while the other leg plays the ball. Once the ball is fairly played and the opponents then trips over the tackling leg that plays the ball that generally is not a foul. It can be if the manner of the tackles is done in a way that it is reckless such as a lunge with a raised extended one leg that puts the opponent in danger

Here is a compilation of sliding tackles
Some include contact with the opponent after the ball is won and where the tackled player trips over the tackler. Those are not fouls. The only one I would have questions over is the challenge at 4.00. At grassroots I would take exception with that challenge

In these situations the key for me is whether there in contact on the ball carrier BEFORE the ball is player or not. Contact before the challenge on the ball is a foul as the player plays the opponent first and then the ball. Another factor is that the manner of the challenge does not put the opponent at risk such as lunges in the air that has no control.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derek,
a sweeping tackle where a leg actually wraps around the ball almost as if it were tucked in behind the knee or in behind a calf, trapping it dead and the standing player falling over it is something hard to discern given it often is a backside reach around type but what it is not is the tackle where you go through the player type if you understand that distinction.

Players CAN FALL over the opponent who has legally taken the ball away in a fair tackle mostly due to the fact the body on the ground is in their run path. When you determine that a ball carrier dribbling the ball shows too much of the ball by letting it get away from his central body mass is likely an opponent will try to snatch the possession.

Getting the ball first while it is not a guarantee that the tackle was good only that it is not the reason why it would be a foul. Two-legged tackles have more hmmm in the concept that there is less ball, more of a definite force and carry through, a scissoring action trapping the legs or flying legs high up on the body acting like a wall that is unnecessary to win just the ball but designed to ensure the player or the ball might escape but NOT both!

On good quality slide tackles that cut across a player in front of them with a single leg and one leg bent at the knee as in a poking motion versus a tackle that goes through or under them, we have more leniency that this is natural momentum created by allowing the ball to wander too far away from the body where it can be freely challenged.

Soccer is still a contact sport so be wary of calling a foul just because there was some contact. Was it fair contact? Was it a reasonable effort to win a loose ball or was it a determined scything to ensure the attack ended? One key point, ensure you apply the same standards at either end of the FOP.. I make a point of telling players," I am Fair, not perfect!" and always do the best I can at reading the match. . You have to be certain that the ball was played not the player's legs trapped, tripped or kicked or slid down Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS Rule 12-1-2 states that a player shall not trip or attempt to trip an opponent. This includes tripping or attempting to trip an opponent by use of the legs.

As the referee, you determined that this was not a trip but a collision that occurred after a tackle. Not seeing the play and through your description, I agree with you. If the contact with the leg occurred before the tackle of the ball, this would be a trip.

Have a great rest of the high school season - I hope you get to work in the Illinois Girls High School sectionals, supers sectionals, and championship games.

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