Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 34746

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/23/2022

RE: Competive Under 17

Thomas Finnigan of Irvine, Sco5land UK asks...

A 50/50 ball approximately 2ft off the ground is challenged by the attacker with his leg outstretched & his studs showing. The defender coming from his right leg outstretched with his toe towards the ball. The attacker touches the ball with his studs a fraction before the defender & in the follow through connects with the foot of the defender & in the coming together the attacker is bowled over from a combination of his momentum in connecting with the defenders foot & body who is much larger. Is this punishable by a foul on the defender?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Thomas
One would need VAR to decide that one along with slow motion and freeze frame LOL.

For me the fact that the attacker plays the ball first and the defender does not get the ball swings it more in line of an offence by the defender. The attacker with the raised studs could also be guilty of a careless or reckless challenge yet both players are trying to do that and at speed it is difficult to determine whether one is more careless / reckless than the other.

There was great debate recently about the penalty award in the Liverpool v Arsenal game when both players went for a ball with the Liverpool player making contact on the foot of Jesus the Arsenal player first at the moment both tried to kick the ball. Flip it around and if the Liverpool player get the ball first it is a free kick out. Both players had their foot raised and stretching.

In a match situation and at speed a referee will look for tell tale signs of what happened to assist in decision making. The ball that is clearly directed by an attacker say forward in his playing direction followed by contact by a defender will more than likely swing any decision against the defender.

In tne recent England v Germany game the penalty award had to go to VAR yet in real time I thought from the direction and the way the ball was played it had to be an offence by the defnder. Both players had their foot raised through stretching to play the ball yet the German player clearly made contact on the ankle of the England player who played the ball in the direction he was facing. Perhaps the availability of VAR led the referee to make no instant decision yet wait for his VAR assistant to opine. For those operating without VAR it would have to be called as an offence.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Thomas,
the perception of ugliness in any challenge, raised legs and studs showing, players leaving their feet or lunging creates a look of danger that will get the attention of a referee in evaluating if or when a foul is present. The general state or readiness or awareness, the speed, direction and force used, interesting you mentioned a size difference. Mass can play a big role in how the event plays out not as a foul just consequences!

I was always concerned at the local house levels, they used to combine high school kids from grade 8 to 12 as part of a team thus a 5-year age spread. At that age level you had spindly grade 8 at age 13 100 lbs. soaking wet against grade 12, as 17- or 18-year old's sporting partial beards at 225lbs. I recall watching a completely legal perfectly executed blocking tackle, foot to foot tackle a mirror image of right foot sideways both moving towards at pace directly in front of the ball where the larger leg simply redirected the stored energy into that ball causing the smaller player to literally flip up in a spinning circle then landed on the ball in a backwards u shaped, bouncing back up as this horrendous crack can be heard across the field. I am hammering the whistle even before the muted screams are echoing seriously thinking, " Oh my god this kid just broke his back!" Thankfully no, but his arm was busted in several places. Not a trace of bad feelings or blame was attached. Everyone could plainly see this was simply a physics event. Both moving at approximately the same speed towards the ball but double the mass on one side had greater kinetic energy. It was a startling event where after the league split the kids into a grade 8 to 9 division with grade 10 to 12 alleviate the size disparity, The larger player was in tears and had to be consoled, as the younger shipped off to the hospital for medical attention, the laments of I am so sorry, followed his departure! This was a perfectly done tackle, yet it was one of the worst looking events I ever saw on the pitch.

We cannot punish players just because of their size but I have seen large players use the intimidation ploy . From verbal to simply run into the ball and dare the opposition to get in the way. Any visually disturbing tackle performed with no regards for the safety of an opponent in that ball or no ball a collision was always going to occur raises red flags Straight legs with studs showing are not looked at as clean tackles when directed at the opposition's ankle, shin knee or thigh possible leg breaking contact

I have on occasion seen the foot intercede as an opponent kick is already in progress to clear a ball unaware of the other player reaching in at the last millisecond. It can be difficult to determine if the incoming foot touches the ball or is that foot kicked into the ball? In the case you mention, any tackle at a high rate of speed is quickly evaluated based on what can be seen from the angle of view a referee has. Better to have ARs for support Professionally, the VAR with freeze frame and slow motion can ascertain what the naked eye might miss. That said this could be a careless trip by the defender in that it was seen as a legitimate attempt to play the ball and the entanglement is considered as part of natural momentum. Or it could be a reckless tackle thus cautionable. If excessive, then a red card and send off. The attackers' efforts might be looked at as well, high speed, a hidden direction, lacking awareness, a lunge jumping leaving the feet. Speculation is best we can do on theoretical fouls.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34746
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.