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Question Number: 35404

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/23/2024

RE: Rec Under 11

Michelle Newkirk of RAYMORE, MISSOURI USA asks...

is there a penalty in soccer for accident or on purpose kick in ankle that child had to be carried off field & could not play again after?

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Michele,

Kicking a player is a foul and results in a direct kick award to the team of the player that was kicked. However, if the kick was done with disproportionate or unnecessary force, the kicker should have been given a red card for serious foul play.

If the kicking player was not playing the ball and deliberately kicked his/her opponent the kicking player should be given a red card for violent conduct.

However, the referee much determine the intent of the kicker, what occurred, and the proper penalty. Apparently from what you indicate, no penalty was called.

Since this was a youth game, the skill of the players should also be considered when making a call of this nature. It is extremely unfortunate when any injury occurs, and especially a debilitating injury to a young player.

I do hope the injured player will soon recover and get back in the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Michelle,
the referee should STOP play immediately if he is aware that a player is seriously injured, a broken appendage would definitely qualify. However, it must be recognized as such, because players often go to ground rather easily, holding up the match or preventing attacks looking to delay as opposed to recover.

In response to an injury resulting in the player being so badly injured they cannot play or participate further in the match. I have seen very fair tackles result in some very bad circumstances with breaking bones and one player or both no longer able to continue with no fault attributed, just an accident.

Mind you the referee of the match must adjudge each incident as his/her opinion as to the cause or intent of any such tackle. To do so he/she must be in a good position to view it and understand the LOTG and how they are to be implemented.

Youth soccer, the coordination of the players is not always stellar so when taking a whack at the ball such a kick could by accident carry through into or step on a player, even on your own team. It could also be the result of a careless tackle or a reckless one or an excessive one when one player tries to challenge an opponent for ball possession and fails to do so fairly.

A careless foul results in a DFK (Direct Free Kick) on the FOP (Field Of Play) where the incident occurs although should this occur inside the PA (Penalty Area) of the team creating the foul it becomes a PK (Penalty Kick)

The results of the other 2 types of fouls reckless or excessive, the restarts remain identical -except- there are greater consequences-

As in a reckless foul, here a caution is warranted the referee shows a yellow card for the unsafe or USB action that endangered the safety or caused unfair consequences to the team in question. Now this is a severe warning to behave, because to be shown a second yellow card to the same player results in an additional red card being shown forcing a sending off of the player that did the dastardly deed , causing his team to play short for the rest of that match!

The worst of all three is if a player was to perform an, excessive tackle, that is adjudged by the referee as SFP(Serious Foul Play) and is so grievous as to result in a red card being shown forcing a sending off of the player that did the dastardly deed , causing his team to play short for the rest of that match!

Even of greater concern, as it applies to intent and bans affecting future play, would be if the act was VC (Violent Contact) in that there was no attempt to win the ball at all, simply an attack to injure or hurt the player in question. This can occur whether the ball is in play or not and on or off the field. Such an act usually results in longer suspensions or even criminal charges as it has no place at all in a game!

For instance if play was stopped for a throw in for red and while the ball was being retrieved a red player kicked an opponent inside the red PA the red player WOULD be shown a RED card and WOULD be sent off, his team playing short, & this incident would be be written up as VC BUT the restart REMAINS a throw in.

For instance if play was way down the field inside the white PA and the ball was being kicked about but way down in the other end a red player kicked an opponent inside the red PA the red player WOULD be shown a RED card and WOULD be sent off,, his team playing short and this time the RESTART is a PK which would bring that ball all the way down from the white PA where it was and this incident would be also be written up as VC.

Such situations can generate a lot of hostility and undercurrents if viewed differently. We can pray the youth recovers and that it was only an accident with no malice attached. As to what the circumstances were surrounding the incident, without seeing the incident we can only speculate, best ask the referee of the match for an explanation if it can be done in a calm and reasoned manner.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Michelle
Thanks for the question.

It is an offence to kick a player during play while challenging for the ball. In addition the referee has to opine whether the kick was careless, reckless or used excessive force.
If it is an intentional kick while not connected with play it is violent conduct which is a dismissal / red card.
A careless kick results in a free kick only, while a reckless kick will result in a caution / yellow card and a kick using excessive force will result in a dismissal / red card.
Most offences at U12 are careless which is a free kick only. I rarely see reckless at that age group.

Now I have refereed many Underage games and I watch a lot of games. Many times the referee at U11 games may be starting out as a referee and they lack experience and as a result can miss fouls etc. In addition they can be unsure of the sanction or indeed miss something altogether.

At U11 the players themselves are learning the game and players motor skills are developing. A player could try to kick the ball and kick both the ball and the opponent, not intentionally or with malice. A referee could miss that and only see the ball moving. It is still a foul as it is considered careless.

So unfortunately contact does happen in the game yet it should be sanctioned with a free kick when it is careless. In addition play should be stopped for an injury and the player treated including removal from the field of play.
At U11 I do not see intentional kicking of opponent yet I do see accidental kicks which is also an offence.
I have seen injuries that were entirely accidental such as players getting trod on, falls resulting in an injury, ankle twists, knocks etc.
In any sport contact injuries are part of the game many of which are accidental and/ or unintentional.
No one likes to see any player having to be removed due to injury. I once recall an U12 player falling while running and he had to leave the field of play. He was on his own when he slipped and fell. I met his coach a week later at another game and he told me the player broke his collar bone which amazed me.

Without seeing your incident I believe that a kick that results in a player being removed from the field is most likelt to be an offence punished by a free kick when kick contact has been made on the player by an opponent. There can be times when say both players kick the ball at the same time and one player gets an ankle twist as a result. Obviously that is not a foul.

I trust the injury was not serious and the child gets back playing immediately. As a coach I remember my son getting hurt in a game and he had to leave the game. He was back playing a few days later with no ill effects. I can’t even recall if it was a foul just that he got a knock and he was upset. He was substituted with no ill effects. Just part of the game from time to time.

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