Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

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
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
Panel Login

Question Number: 20929

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/4/2009

RE: AYSO Under 13

Tom of Los Angeles, CA USA asks...

I will be reffing in a Spring league that has combined the U12 and U14 divison. I expect to see a wide range of sizes of kids (elementary school kids to younger high school kids) playing in the same game.

With that range of ages/sizes, I expect that, at some point in time, a younger high school kid will knock one of the elementary kids off the ball using their size to move them out of the way. And possibly while knocking them off the ball, they will knock them to the ground.

So my questions:

1. Is it possible to have a dangerous play foul called, solely due to the differences in size (i.e., if the kid challenged someone their same size, the other kid would have been able to hold his ground and there would be no foul). Assume that, in my opinion, the play of the bigger kid was dangerous with respect to the younger kid.

2. How does the 'shoulder-to-shoulder, elbow-to-elbow' contact rule work, when the bigger kid's shoulder would contact the littler kid's head.

Thanks. I just want to make sure that I'm being yelled at by the correct set of parents.


Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Tom you need to get hold of Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game and read paragraph 12.5. Therein lies the answer.


Read other questions answered by Referee Chuck Fleischer

View Referee Chuck Fleischer profile

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

1. No. That would be inherently unfair to the larger player. The bigger player must play with restraint and not use his size to unfairly charge an opponent. you'll have to decide what that means. I've been doing youth games for over 10 years and have not had a problem identifying when the force is excessive and I doubt you will either.
2. It's a common sense thing. The taller kid can't take off the shorter kid's head and he knows this. He will have to use his body against the opponent's in a manner that is safe and without excessive force. You might want to remind all the players at pregame to keep their elbows down as disproportionate height could cause a bad injury accidentally.

Read other questions answered by Referee Keith Contarino

View Referee Keith Contarino profile

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

And, the little guy is sometimes the one who is using the elbows unfairly, and deliberately bouncing off of the bigger guy to draw a foul call. This is harder to see, but if you watch the reaction of the little guy when the whistle blows, it will help. And the bigger guy will also react.

Somehow, you'll have to learn to sort out the truth, because if you don't, the bigger guy may retaliate against the smaller guy when you don't take care of business. Too many referees go in thinking they have to take care of the smaller players - trust me, most of them can take care of themselves and can hoodwink many a referee.

Forewarned is fair warned!


Read other questions answered by Referee Michelle Maloney

View Referee Michelle Maloney profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

The physics of mass are relative to the force used but there will always be situations where the big guy is going to clean the little guys clock simply because of the larger faster moving mass and it is completely fair, only difficult to watch.

We are not taking about head down lower the shoulder run him over, simply two opposing players playing a ball from the opposite sides where the spindle stick twig leg twitch kick gets blown out by the massive tree trunk explosion that opposes the other side of the ball.

I recall a similar set of circumstances where due to a lack of players a high school recreation league allowed 4 foot 9; grade 8 13 year olds to mix with 6 foot 4, grade 12, 17 year olds. I watched as a fast low moving grade 8 came in with right leg size 7 shoe swinging as a equally fast and sturdy oak tree grade 12 came in from the opposing direction with left leg size 13 swinging foot with. With the ball squished between them the grade 8 was completely upended, the ball stopped dead as the body of the grade 8 came down with the small of his back impacting the ball right in the middle as he arced around the ball head hitting the ground and a large CRACKING sound made me shiver with dread as I thought OH my God! The poor bastard broke his bloody back! Thankfully as his body compressed said ball flat, the body bounced up and he turned over onto his belly as he came down a second time with his arm broken in two places, not his back but still it ranks up there with one of the most horrific few moments at a youth soccer game one could imagine. The grade 12 was crying as he too was upset that the younger smaller player was so injured but it was the young grade 8s father who spoke up and said its ok you did nothing wrong it my son was just unlucky. Totally class act! I agreed it was a completely fair and honest play with an unfortunate result. The game restarted with a prayer to the injured player, a drop ball and a crest fallen slightly subdued grade 12 who was very very tentative on tackles for the rest of match. This did make those in charge of the league though face some daunting questions as to the make up and selection of teams!

The big kids do tend to lean on and push or hold those smaller in stature but the ankle kicks and elbows were equally disributed reguardless of size. I watched the smaller kids often charge and leave their feet when in pursuit of a larger opponent. AS my colleague reiterate, foul is foul, fair is fair only the referee decides which it is this day, this time, this match!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 20929
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.