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Question Number: 28750

Law 18 - Common Sense 9/20/2014

RE: Rec Under 10

EHarris of Austin, Texas USA asks...

I was told by a high school player today that targeting was illegal in soccer, meaning I cannot place a defender man-on-man against the other team's star player with the goal of preventing him from getting the ball in the first place -- not through obstruction, just through staying between the 'star' and the ball through legal play. However, I can't find any reference to such a rule. Is this a 'school rule' in some places but not a club rule?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI E Harris,
U-10 that competitive already hmm. Tactically, you can certainly use a single player to mark an opponent ! The issues are, any challenges better be fair, a couple of fouls and persistent infringement is up for debate plus the only legal contact must occur in a proper challenge for the ball. What is likely going to be an issue is if the marking is too restrictive and creates impeding issues or where unwarranted contact is occurring by having your defender try and block his runs or inhibit his movement. It will be noticed and that his attention is playing the man not the ball, thus dfk free kicks for holding or pushing or indfk for impeding are likely candidates for consideration. I suggest put a tireless runner on as a rover where wherever the ball goes he goes! Sub the rover out often, but great pressure is achieved, given the mandate to the rover, which is, get to the ball. Easier to coach than constantly trying to manage the movements of a 10 year old defender targeting a very good opponent. lol

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Seems extremely strange to me. At U10 the game should be about FUN and skill development. Asking U10s to ""man mark"" is just plain nonsense yet I doubt there is a local rule to prevent it whatever about the spirit of the U little game being mistreated.
So there would be no offence in marking an opponent in the manner you describe yet I consider it poor form at U littles. The referee though would not intervene here unless the marking actually committed a foul which from the description I would doubt. I would also expect that it would require an extensive amount of player coaching from the side line which would tick off any player even an U10.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


There is no high school rule that prohibits targeting. Problems that may develop during the targeting which are the same for high school and an idea for successful targeting are well explained by Ref Dawson in the preceding response. It would be interesting to learn where the high school player got the misinformation.

I hope your season goes well.

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