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: 20962

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/11/2009

RE: Competitive Under 17

Mike of Louisville, KY USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 20939

I just read the 'impeding' discussion in another question, and it raised a new question for me.

Often in highly-competitive contests, the ball will be traveling to the GK who will be at his 18 waiting for it. The ball will be pursued by an attacker, and the GK must make a decision whether to step to the ball and play it with his feet, or wait for the ball to reach him so he can play it with his hands.

Quick defenders will sometimes run across the path of the attacker, between the attacker and the ball, slowing the attacker and allowing the ball to reach the keeper inside his 18. The defender will make contact with neither the ball nor the attacker.

Based on your response to Question 20939, would this not be considered impeding? I've never seen it called, and until reading the other question I never considered it anything other than smart defending.

Thanks for your answer, and I promise to TRY not to use the information against some unsuspecting ref for my own pleasure.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

It wouldn't work to use it on some unsuspecting referee anyway. They are rightly suspicious of 'help' from anyone not an AR on their game or an assigned assessor. But you could try...

Generally speaking, a defender who can make it between a ball and the attacker has a reasonable chance to play the ball. They aren't required to play it, only to be able to play it by taking a stride or two at speed. If they choose not to play and to allow their keeper to take it, there is no offense, no violation and no reason for the referee to insert herself into the mix.

Only if the defender has no chance to play the ball (it's too far away) could impeding even be considered, and in that case, again, the question becomes one of 'if the defender can't reach it, is it reasonable to think the attacker could?' While it is not out of the realm of possibility for a defender to impede in these circumstances, it will be the exception not the rule.

I would also mention here that defenders are very protective of keepers, and being nearby when a keeper and attacker are going to be involved is just good defending.

Read other questions answered by Referee Michelle Maloney

View Referee Michelle Maloney profile

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Mike, if you would look at the defenders choices sort of like this: if he can't play the ball and chooses a specific degree of the 360 degrees in a the circle around the attacker that slows him down he's guilty of impeding the progress of an opponent. Slam bang, over and out.

Be careful with all your new found wisdom because there are times a referee has made up his mind impeding has happened and before he has a chance to whistle and stop things there is physical contact between the two players. What has happened is the referee has stopped play for impeding in his mind. The whistle sounds indicating play stopped some length of time ago. What spectators see is a collision between opponents, then they hear the tweet and see the referee raise his arm indicating indirect. They quite naturally come to the wrong conclusion. Not only that but they tend to tell others about what they think happened and others believe it. Pretty soon the sky is a greenish purple and there's no humidity in Louisville during July and August...


Read other questions answered by Referee Chuck Fleischer

View Referee Chuck Fleischer profile

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

I might add that you may be witnessing a defender that is within playing distance of the ball shielding it for his keeper to collect. Remember that one of the criteria for impeding is the ball not be within playable distance

Read other questions answered by Referee Keith Contarino

View Referee Keith Contarino profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 20962
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.