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Question Number: 29233

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 3/7/2015

RE: Intermediate Under 13

Phil of Tarzana, CA United States asks...

Sliding tackle. In the Saturday game between Athletic Club & Real Madrid, there's a sliding tackle by RM Alarcon at 73.03 minutes. It looked to me like Alarcon kept both legs down as he hit the ball & that Williams fell over him. Alarcon got a yellow card from that. I was wondering what the refs here would have done.

If you would have given a yellow, what specifically about the tackle was reckless? Thanks, as always, for a great site.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Phil,
We are generaly loath to criticise a referee decision made in real time from the armchair slow motion view even if we might disagree, which I do not. The angle of view , the speed at which play occurs, input from ARs, all form part of the decision making process.

I think he took him out plain and simple, from behind, as the attacker had spun around trying to evade the tackle after successfully pushing the ball past the defender. He went through the player not in front of the player!

A key factor when a player DECIDES to turn himself into a human missile of force = mass times speed he has no control of stopping safely when the dynamics start to change. Look at when he starts the tackle, his launch point if you will, being committed to ground zero and the how the situation changes as the attacker tries to maneuver through the tackle.

I have continually pointed out that slide tackles are inherently dangerous on the risk/reward charts as they are in fact a last gasp by a beaten defender going to ground. Isco is not the greatest of defensive players in my opinion, he more of a creative attacking midfielder with decent control.
As a coach I am disgusted at the defensive posture, because there was no reason to slide tackle. Examine the positioning, look at the distance away from the ball, look at the support of nearby team mate. It looks like a tired attempt to win a ball that had no real threat.

While a fairly executed slide tackle can be effective and possibly not a foul, even if the ball is contacted first, it could STILL be perceived as a foul with misconduct due to the nature of the eventual contact, how fast it occurs, the force imbued in the tackle and what the opinion of that important someone else viewing it might be!

The only criteria of consequence that made Isco's tackle reckless was the opinion of the CR Alberto Undiano Mallenc! His Match! His Decision, His Reputation! Which in my opinion could only have been enhanced by his performance today

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Phil
I watched the game and my opinion was that it was a caution also. Alarcon had little idea of where the ball was and the player acted with complete disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, his opponent. In fact he got hurt himself. This type of tackle with the player going through the player with legs extended and the player coming over the top is always going to draw a caution. It is extremely dangerous and it is the most likely challenge to break a leg.
So the caution was entirely appropriate and no complaint from the player or his team mates. It is dealing with these incidents well that help match control.
Referee Alberto Undiano Mallenc is a very experienced FIFA official and this would always be a difficult game in the Basque Region with very vocal partisan support. Like Referee Dawson I agree that the referee handled the game very well with a good performance. He got all the big calls correct

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Answer provided by Referee Gene Nagy


There seems to be a misconception about 'getting the ball first'. It would appear that many feel that as long as a player touches the ball he is outright not committing a foul. Hmmmm, common sense should tell us that if a player, who touches the ball first and than breaks two legs and an ankle as well damaging his own body, there is something wrong.
There has to be a point, where we distinguish between careless, reckless and excessive manner. When a slide tackle is made, often the original ball carrier ends up on the ground. That in itself is not a problem and that is part of the game. But if the tackle was made in a reckless manner, it is a foul and a caution irrelevant if he touched the ball or not. On top of that, if it is done using excessive force (freight train) he should be sent off the field.
Now penalized players will inevitably point out the fact that hey, I got the ball the first. Don't be fooled by that. Use the reckless, excessive criteria; that's what counts.

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