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: 28575

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/5/2014

RE: rec Under 13

Howard A. Lane of Bethesda, Maryland usa asks...

This is more of an historical question and comment concerning FIFA's interpretation of an illegal charge from behind. It was about three World Cups back that FIFA announced that reckless charges from behind would be severely sanctioned. It seemed that for that cup and a few years thereafter, such charges were dealt with by a warning or ejection. Am I mistaken or has that changed? In the current cup I have seen numerous hard fouls from behind with few cards pulled. In yesterday's Colombia v. Brazil game Neimar was given a broken back by a knee from behind without a foul being called. Am I right that this aspect of the game isn't getting the attention it deserves?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Howard
The Law has not changed in respect of this type of challenge. What seems to have happened is that referees have been advised to be more lenient in the issue of cautions. At the last World Cup the average number of cautions per game was 3.77. So far the average in this World Cup has been 2.86 the lowest since 1986.
In the Brazil v Colombia game there were 54 fouls which is extremely high plus the first of four cautions was in the 64th minute. Referee Carlos Velasco Carballo is a very experienced referee and had this game been in the European Champions League there would have been quite a number of cards shown. I would have seen at least 4 /5 more cautions.
While FIFA may not want to see players miss games because of the two card suspension rule its advice to referees plainly does not work across all games as evidenced by this. When one considers that in South Africa the final had 14 cards and there were games with 10. 9, 8, 7 cards many games in this World Cup are down at 3/4 on average. The highest card count so far is 7 in Brazil v Chile and there has just been 3 sendings off
I suspect after the debacle of this game that the policy might have to be reviewed? Just watched Belgium and Argentina and the card policy seems to be continuing.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The words 'from behind' were removed from the Laws several years ago to emphasize that dangerous tackles can come from any direction. Any lack of calls or cards in this World Cup has nothing to do with the wording.

It does appear that refs have been given some instruction, either implicitly or explicitly, to 'keep the players in the game'. Fans want to see their favorite players, and don't like to see them sent off, and don't want them suspended when they accumulate 2 cautions.

It will be interesting to see the outcome once the Cup is finished. Will FIFA and Sepp Blatter excoriate the refs? Or will they accept that this is the way the game is played?

Read other questions answered by Referee Gary Voshol

View Referee Gary Voshol profile

Answer provided by Referee richard dawson

Hi Howard,

Regardless of the direction, tackling in a dangerous manner which endangers the safety of a player is NOT to be tolerated, it is a send-off, show a red card
but as we can often see on the telly such tackles can still go unpunished or uncarded!

I was as surprised a you at the NO call for the knee into the spine and yes that was easily reckless and as it proved even dangerous but it is a fact of the games at the World CUP level that players challenging for the ball seem to crawl up the backside of opponents in what I can only say is usually unfair, often reckless and in an occasionally dangerous manner.

If there is a foul then the LEVEL of careless, reckless or dangerous must be calculated at EACH incident or if no foul or trifling then a pattern is being set and players need to adapt the bar being set by the official. The potential for a match to go sideways is players will PROTECT themselves and retaliate if the feel the referee is not correctly gauging these incidents. To be fair the judicious use of cards or even good officiating is NOT a guarantee players will behave or toe a line. The propensity to cheat, dive, whine or foul is still within the players own sphere of integrity!

Foul recognition and foul tolerance are indeed difficult concepts to meld! The referees at this World Cup have intervened a great deal at the taking of corner kicks! It is painfully obvious they have received some instructions to sort out the clutching, holding and pushing inside the penalty areas! How is it the players do not yet accept or not know that their actions are illegal?

Matches are drastically altered when red cards force teams to play short and those paying to watch enjoy spirited entertaining matches may not find a group of guys clinging around a goal trying to keep the ball out worth watching. Is it a lack of political will, the referee is unsighted or simply a transitional phase of acceptability passed on as my colleagues point out the instructions given to those officiating at the World cup are often not made public and we can only surmise at just what is being said or why things are as they are!

There is no doubt in my mind that the majority of matches at the 2014 World Cup have been played in good faith, with good intentions and exceptional officiating. But to be realistic the World Cup players willingness to engage their opponents in an equal tit for tat, push, grab, slide or shove can play through a great deal more than I would be willing to allow at the park level.
The fact is as a referee one can only officiate in the manner in which they choose to SET their bar as acceptable not try to arm chair those on TV or duplicate an imaginary standard .

Read other questions answered by Referee richard dawson

View Referee richard dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 28575
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 28586

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.