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Question Number: 14084

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 10/9/2006

RE: IM Under 12

Patrick Trombly of Winthrop / Newton, MA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 12542

Again I'm seeing you fall into the trap of equating physical with illegal on a linear scale, as if what is and isn't a foul is a function of the level or result of physicality. I don't want to see injuries either but it's just not a linear relationship - legal is legal, illegal is illegal, and there's not a 1 for 1 relationship with how physical the play is.

That's just not what the rules say. A player can be legally bumped off the ball, conversely someone can high-kick and miss but it's still a dangerous play. A player can be legally bumped off the ball or screened off a ball by someone stealing it, and the player who used to have the ball can end up on her keister. Conversely, you can screen the other player illegally, not as part of stealing the ball but to prevent her from getting it, and even if there is minimal or no contact, it can be a foul.

As for differences in women's and men's soccer, I can't say in any total fashion. My girls get physical from the start - - we typically elect to defend the net where we've been practicing before the game and the other team typically wants to kick off, which is fine by us as it lets us establish ourselves - - instead of lining up one for one with the three girls on top of the ball, we line up to double cover the two potential recipients of the opening kick, and our success rate at stripping the ball is about 75% - - both players run at the girl, the 'inside linebacker' taps the ball way and then boots it upfield (once we have the ball I send a forward running straight ahead, about on the line with the outside of the penalty box). There's usually some contact in the process but it's legal contact - and it's frustrating for the opponents because it totally disrupts whatever they planned to do.

I like this because we get to do it right after every one of our scores - it keeps the momentum on our side, keeps the ball on their side, and never lets the other team up off the matt. It's pretty intimidating and it's very effective. My girls really like it. It's also pretty fool-proof - there's not much the other team can do, assuming they line up in traditional format (nobody in their backfield), to stop us. I'm counting in the 25% occasions when the other team just boots it through to our defenders - - they've yet to take it through and keep the ball.

We're 3-1 now, and since we've started doing this we're 2-0 and have outscored our opponents 18-4.

The other teams' parents don't like Suzy getting bumped off the ball but they should have signed her up for chess or her Coach should have prepared her for soccer. But honestly I think they really just don't like losing 11-2, they wouldn't even notice the physicality if it was 3-2 (though of course my girls' executing it and everything else well is why it isn't) and again, their Coach should have prepared them better.

You're all welcome to use the play - Merry Xmas.

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

I must see a how your players execute this and evaluate whether it is fair or not, especially with 10 and 11 year old kids. This age is hot one where there is a whole lot of skill resident in the American player. They are pretty much in the bump and crunch phase. It is 4 more years until I begin to see the finesse, skill and cunning phase begin. If a player in this age group is being run at by two opponents I tend to think of an intimidation factor that leads me toward unsporting behavior on the part of one player or the other. If this continues after I mention [caution] because of it I'd tend to think the coach desires this behavior and think of him not as acting responsibly.

I read how you write and see someone not all that familiar with this Game. I see you as more the gridiron football type. In this Game physical contact is PROHIBITED before contact is made with the ball unless that contact is shoulder to shoulder. You seem not to know that. Thanks for writing again.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

I agree with my colleague here. We must evaluate and make a decision based on the individual circumstance. It makes little sense to call a foul that the fouled player would lose an advantage over. Generally, we let players play the ball, but not the opponent. It is usually pretty easy to tell the difference.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

You seem to think YOU are the only one that knows what constitutes "legal" contact. As I've said before, the age group you coach is very young and players at this age do not have the skills in place to be very physical without the chance of injuring an opponent. I would have to watch your players to decide if anything they do is legal or illegal. You are correct, fouls may occur with no contact and sometimes there is contact with no foul. But that's the referee's decision, not yours. Also, would you PLEASE reference the questions you refer to. You have asked and read many and I cannot figure out which ones you refer to.

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