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Question Number: 22504

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/13/2009

RE: Under 18

steven of sydney, nSW australia asks...

if a player makes a bad tackle but gets the ball first can it be a foul ?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steven
Most definitely and referees have been told by their associations to clamp down on bad tackles. If a tackle is careless, reckless or uses excessive force it is a foul irrespective of whether the ball was contacted first. In the case of a reckless tackle the player should be cautioned and if excessive force is used the player should be dismissed.
'Careless' indicates that the player has not exercised due caution in making a play.
'Reckless' means that the player has made unnatural movements designed to intimidate an opponent or to gain an unfair advantage.
'Involving excessive force' means that the player has far exceeded the use of force necessary to make a fair play for the ball and has placed the opponent in considerable danger of bodily harm.

The fact that the player gets the ball is irrelevant and it is not a license to make bad tackles. In Europe this is what referees have been told by UEFA

' Strong unfair tackles
? Referees are strongly reminded of their duty to protect players from strong unfair physical contact / tackles.
? One aspect which was reiterated was that it makes no difference if the tackle is from behind, the front or the side.
? Where contact is made with the ball and the opponent at speed and without consideration for the potential danger to the opponent, this must be punished appropriately ? normally with a caution, but in cases of serious foul play with a red card.
? Referees are reminded that any tackle involving excessive force and therefore endangering the safety of an opponent is serious foul play and must result in a red card.'

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Answer provided by Referee Dennis Wickham

'I got the ball' is not enough. It is true that the player who makes contact with an opponent before touching the ball likely has committed the foul of a careless (or reckless) tackle. But, one can still commit a foul by a careless trip, charge, kick or push even if the player touches the ball before contact with the opponent.

Indeed, on a slide tackle, a defender often will not be sure if they got the ball and will use the other leg to hook or scissor the opponent (just to make sure the opponent can't get to the ball). The use of the second leg is a foul (and perhaps misconduct) even though the tackle with the first leg was a fair tackle. A fair tackle is rarely described as, you write, "a bad tackle."

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Getting the ball is not a license to sweep, or run over or slide through an opponent. While we can permit some collisions to be thought of as the opponent falling over a player once the ball is controlled or knocked away as opposed to being tripped by the player we look at the reasonableness of the action taken, force used, extra body language such as leg action as in scissoring the back of the leg or coming in over the ball with studs showing (red card excessive and very dangerous tackle) or a raised foot into the crotch or other leg, or perhaps the use of the arms grabbing or encircling the opponent to drag him down!

Fair tackles work better when players stay on their feet but the tackles performed well on the ground are a single leg in at a decent angle to knock the ball away with other leg bent back or the ball hooked with the crook of the knee and stopped so that the opponent actually falls over the ball itself!


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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Of course. Getting the ball first is a requirement. But getting the ball first doesn't give the player the right to continue on in an illegal, unfair, or dangerous manner. Let's say a defender goes to tackle the ball away from an attacking player. He comes in from the side, gets the ball, raises his foot studs up and takes down the attacker. Do you think for any reason that the defender did not commit a foul? Of course if the defending player cleanly tackles the ball, keeps his feet and legs down and does nothing else illegal or unfair, he has committed no foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

There's really not much more to add here - they've covered it pretty comprehensively. Sometimes, as referees, we see a challenge that looks acceptable at first but upon further reflection we ask things like 'Did that player come in with excessive force?' or other such introspective inquiries. These are the events from which we can learn by replaying the event in our head and, if we deem it appropriate, responding in our mind's-eye with the correct response - foul, caution, send-off, or whatever. This increases the likelihood that we will respond correctly and appropriately when we are presented with the same or a similar event. These can be the 'little differences' which can make a BIG difference in match control because, believe me, the players know what the deal is. As an instructor once said - the players know so why don't YOU know. These are the kinds of things from which we can refine and hone our skills. Good luck. All the best,

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