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Question Number: 34404

High School 11/2/2021

RE: Youth High School

JC of Lacrosse, WI USA asks...

Had an incident recently where a player put his head at waist height, maybe a little lower, to get a touch on a bouncing ball. At the same moment, maybe a little before or a little after, an opposing player kicked the ball and made slight contact with the opponents head. The kick didn't seem especially wild/careless/reckless/unnecessarily forceful.

How to sort this out? On the one hand a high boot to the head is typically a send off, but this wasn't THAT high, and putting one's head in harm's way is often dangerous play. I split the baby and called a foul on the kicker, no card, but as you can imagine no one was happy with this.

How would you deal with a play that could simultaneously be a send off in one direction or an indirect kick for dangerous play in the other?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

I am leaning more towards a free against the player who headed it as lowering his head has placed himself in danger. Having said that a waist high boot is still fairly high when close to an opponents particularly when it makes contact with the head even slightly.
Timing though is everything on this. As described though I would not see it as a red card or for that matter a caution as described.
Both FIFA and NFHS are the same on this. NFHS says that a player shall not participate in dangerous play, which is an act an official considers likely to cause injury to any player. This includes playing in such a manner which could cause injury to self or another player (opponent or teammate).
However contact escalates this to a penal foul rather than a technical foul with an IDFK restart.

So it is a judgement call on whether the foot was too high or the head was too low. Timing is the big factor here and if the player had his head already down the opponent had to be careful not to raise his boot to make contact in what would then could be a careless foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

AS referee, your match, your decision, your reputation is on display here. You saw it now you must decide if what you saw was unfair or unsafe and who to hold accountable?

PIADM is an INDFK offence created by the player placing themselves in harms way or creating an unsafe enviroment were the opponent could be hurt.

Many a great goal has been scored with diving header on balls even lower than waist high. The nod on is a great way to continue an attack

That said generaly one player is often in the prime position to 1st play the ball with the 2nd player following up. You said a bit before & a bit after which was it? Was it a reasonable attempt to head the ball or did it evolve into a dangerous act becausethe opponent was already in the process of kicking it?

Technically PIADM involves no contact as the opponent is supposed to not challange because the player's action are unsafe. IF they disreguard the unsafe action and just kick him in the head then its a DFK offence of kicking. If he was already in the procees of clearing and then the opponent bent down now we have a choice to make.

While it certainy sucks getting kicked in the head by a careless, reckless or excessive attempt to kick the ball, was there any attempt to pull out or away to lessin the impact? Was there awarness, eye contact, or a general disreguard ? Was it clear someone was there 1st?

I have on a few occassions restarted with for the injury as an accidental clash by a foolish action on a ill timed use of the head on a ball clearly destined to be kicked away. Yet on headers that GET there 1st to the ball, ahead of the kick, the kicker is likely at fault to some degree. You need to be aware if the proximity of the players if your foot is coming up past the waist.

In the John Terry incident the defender was truly horrified at what he done and the referee I belive restarted with an injury drop with no PK . Yet I saw this a a Pk because John was there first, the ball was chest high not below the waist and the high foot follow through created a serious injury. Yet I do not belive there were any real issues as most accepted it as an accident.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS Rule 12-8-6 states: A player shall not participate in dangerous play which is an act an official considers likely to cause injury of any player. This includes playing in such a manner which could cause injury to self or another player including a teammate.

Situation 12-6-B on Page 58 of the NFHS Soccer Rules Book indicates a similar situation to yours where the player lowers the head to make a diving save and gets kicked in the head. The result is an indirect kick for the kickers team.

Although your situation is not a dive, I feel that lowering the head below the waist, especially at the high school level, is dangerous and an injury could result. The player committing the dangerous play, in this case, the player heading the ball, should have been penalized.

Hopefully, you are getting to work in the Championship games at Stevens Point this weekend.

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