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Question Number: 27120

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 1/21/2013

RE: Competitive Adult

John Atkinson of London, England asks...

This sounds like a strange question but here it is...

Is a very late tackle always a cautionable offence? So many times in Premier League games you'll see a player getting cautioned for a tackle the commentator will describe as 'very late' - Paul Scholes is the worst offender that springs to mind! But if it's not reckless (i.e. doesn't potentially endager the player's safety) then what reason, according to the Laws of the Game, would there be for the yellow card? I've had a look through the book and I can't see anything about late tackles in the list of cautionable offences.



Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi John,

First off, I just want to clarify that a tackle that 'endangers the safety of an opponent' should be sanctioned as serious foul play (due to the use of excessive force) as opposed to a reckless tackle.

This is what the Laws say regarding careless vs reckless:

'Careless' means that the player has shown a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or that he acted without precaution.

'Reckless' means that the player has acted with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent.

I would say that a very late tackle would be made without consideration of the consequences to the opponent, rather than a tackle that was made inattentively or without precaution.

Additionally, these all fall under 'unsporting behaviour', and the card is supposed to indicate that an even is significantly removed from notions of fair and reasonable play - I would say that a significantly late tackle would fall within that realm.

The lateness of the tackle is just one of a number of things to consider when determining whether a tackle is worthy of a yellow or red card.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi John
There are many reasons in a challenge why a player can be cautioned beyond reckless. These include persistent infringement where the player has been constantly fouling or a tactical foul where the player has broken up a promising attack such as taking the player out before a return pass etc or in many cases the referee is of the opinion that the player may commit a more serious challenge of a similar nature so the caution is used for match control. Also player take exception to 'late' challenges even the minor ones and when not dealt with properly can escalate into something more serious. It also sends out a signal to players that 'fouling' will not be tolerated.
At the highest level tactical fouls will more than likely draw a card as the player know what he is doing and it is done solely to disadvantage the opponents. Many times one has to look beyond the challenge itself to understand the reason for the caution.

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Answer provided by Referee Nathan Lacy

At the premier level of play you can almost bet a paycheck that nothing, or at least VERY little, happens by accident. That having been said, if a challenge is 'very late' then you can be assured that the player making the challenge knew exactly what he/she was doing and that they were doing it for a reason - intimidation, payback, whatever. As the referee you need to 'feel' this in the match and handle it accordingly. If the players don't feel that you understsand what is happening then their confidence in your abilities and hence your credibility will be diminished and, as referees, credibility is what it's all about. So is it 'always' a caution - no. In the majority of cases should it probably be a caution - I would say yes. However, as with everything in this game and because of the dynamic nature of challenges, body positions, field conditions, etc., one needs to be there, see it, and be 'in the moment' to actually have a credible opinion one way or the other. That the referees at these levels of play are pretty much consistent in how they deal with this issue should tell you something and be message and lesson that one would be wise to incorporate into their body of knowledge. Also recognize that my comments are very much directed towards this (premier) level of play. With less skilled players and/or younger players the ability to judge the challenge is not as rfefined and developed. However, that alone should not dissuade you from cautioning a player should the criteria for a reckless challenge be met. All the best,

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