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Question Number: 34256

High School 6/23/2021

RE: High School

Mark Krawiec of Rocklin, CA USA asks...

Is this a fair challenge? It runs at normal playback speed first, then at slow mo 40%.

Ref called it DFK no caution.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mark,
Thanks for the question.
This is a foul for me.

The player won the ball - but while that's a big consideration, it doesn't necessarily mean 'no foul'.
There are a couple of elements of concern here, and a couple of things it could fall under.

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

- charges
- jumps at
- kicks or attempts to kick
- pushes
- strikes or attempts to strike (including head-butt)
- tackles or challenges
-trips or attempts to trip

- Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed

- Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned

- Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off

The first thing that stands out to me is that the player actually jumped into this tackle. Jumping at an opponent is a foul - so this makes it a pretty clear foul already. Jumping increases the risk to the opponent and increases the force against the opponent - and means that the player jumping in is no longer controlling their own momentum. I would think that certainly meets the criteria for a 'lack of consideration to an opponent' at minimum.

Something else which is difficult to spot in real time, but easier in the slowed down version (and may have been easier to spot in real time live) is that this isn't shoulder-to-shoulder rather, contact is made in the back of the black player's shoulder blade. This, especially with the amount of force, makes it a charge from behind - one which I think would meet the criteria of a careless charge.

The black player was entitled to lunge for the ball - so was white, of course, but if white was coming in so fast that they can't avoid flattening the opponent from behind as they move to control the ball, that's on the white player. By not allowing that, the white player has shown a lack of attention or consideration.

Given that there is quite a lot of force involved, I would say that a yellow card for the foul being reckless could absolutely be considered. I would probably lean towards a yellow myself - a combination of the speed and force, the jumping action and the hit from behind all would possibly make it reckless, but could depend a bit on the mood and intensity of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


For high school, where the safety of players is a primary concern I believe the call was correct.

Although the white player contacted the ball before contacting the player, the white player charged into the opponent in a dangerous and reckless manner.

If the white player had not contacted the ball first, I would have given him a caution.

I hope that you have an enjoyable summer of soccer.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
Thanks for tne video and the question.
On these type of questions it is important to understand that the referee has a viewpoint unique to him from his location at that exact moment in time plus he does not have the benefit of action replay plus slow motion. I do not see the referee’s position in the video yet I assume he would have viewed this from behind the White player rather than side on which is closer to the video angle. In addition viewing one challenge in isolation may not give the totality of why a decision was made. For instance in a feisty game with tempers starting to rise a referee may call challenges more strictly. The referee may have already spoken to a player who has made multiple borderline challenges or there has been history between the players earlier in the game on previous contact.

For what its worth I believe that this looks like a foul and on the day it would have looked like that to the referee. The contact is into the back of the Black player with a fair amount of force which knocked him to the ground fairly heavily plus it was done in a way that while the ball was touched by White it was uncontrolled with more of a lunge. Both White’s legs end up in the air after the challenge which does not look good in any challenge. Add in the uncertainty of what White was trying to do here as he seemed that he was not giving any consideration to any contact on his opponent or subsequent play and this looks at best careless. The fact he made contact on the ball may have saved him from a caution. As I have said so many times playing or winning the ball is not a free pass to being careless or reckless in a challenge.

As a match observer and instructor looking at this from the video angle I would have had more of an issue with a no call than awarding a DFK. Having said that I will always look at the totality of a referees performance including foul recognition over the whole game rather than one challenge in isolation. At Youth level player exuberance in challenges has to be curbed otherwise players run the risk of injury to themselves and opponents.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mark,
the referee has one shot at it from where he is. His decision will be base on the incident as he views & interprets the actions with his understanding of the LOTG. The referee has a back view whereas the video is a side front view. It appears obvious he dislikes the contact as he does award the DFK for the tackle attempt. With no card shown his threshold of reckless or USB was not met. We can infer it could be, given the leaping jump by the opponent on the dead run was pretty forceful. The fact the ball was knocked away, while not a get out of jail card, does lessen the punishment so to speak. We value a reasonable challenge attempt far more than a desperate one! Yet safety is important with youth particularly & their welfare should be paramount in any decision. If that front foot had landed as a good old-fashioned cleated toe-stomp, a great deal of pain could have been in been in store! Those crushing type of tackles often results in a foot-holding roll around and several expletives of a robust nature! lol. As it stands I think the DFK out was fine! He carelessly barged him over.

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