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Question Number: 20939

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/7/2009

RE: Rec / AYSO Under 13

Ian Bishop of Upland, CA USA asks...

Made an 'Impeding' call today - doesn't happen very often and so am hopeful I used the call correctly. Attacking player (blue) lost the ball to a defender (red) at close quarters (on each other), who then changed direction of play and the ball moved about 4 yards away from the players. Blue had his back to the ball, and Red tried to disengage from the tackle and pursue the ball. In my opinion, Blue then lowered his shoulder, pushed against red and leaned his body into Red's path to delay & prohibit Red from moving past him to play the ball. The ball was never within Blue's reach, and the lowering of the shoulder and leaning action were visually significant enough to warrant a call. Was 'impeding' the right call?

Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

No. The blue player used physical contact to prevent the red player from moving. That means the call must be deemed holding. Impeding would be where no physical contact is utilized.

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Sorry Ian but you got this one wrong. Impeding the progress of an opponent almost never involves contact. Here's what the most current Advice To Referees On The Laws Of The Game has to say:

'Impeding the progress of an opponent' means moving on the field so as to obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between the opponent and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying progress. There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.

The offense of impeding an opponent requires that the ball not be within playing distance and that physical contact between the player and the opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should, depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick, see Advice 12.22). However, nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum).

What you describe the Blue player doing would be considered holding which is a direct free kick offense.

. Here's what the current LOTG say about holding on page 109

Holding an opponent
Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving
past or around using the hands, the arms or the body.

It's important to note that holding need not be limited to the use of hands and arms as many incorrectly believe. The Blue player used his body to prevent his opponent from moving past him, thus holding him.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Ian, you were there, and if in your opinion it was impeding, then there is room in the USSF interpretations for that to be the right call. While the call of impeding doesn't normally include actual physical contact, it might.

In your scenario, we cannot tell how much force was used, but your description sounds very similar to the charge described in the 12.14 section of the Advice Ref Contarino quoted - which can be either an IDFK or a DFK. It is also possible that a holding offense occurred, and that has the same punishment as the illegal charge, so it is 6 of one or half dozen of the other.

It's great you are thinking about what happened in games, and seeking advice to help you expand your thinking and stretch your abilities. I hope our thoughts have helped you.

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