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Question Number: 29510

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/29/2015

Derrek of Appleton, WI United States asks...

If a player gets ball but then goes through and gets the player is that a foul? Players think just getting ball is fine but would about after the play?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Derrek,
no doubt getting to the ball first is a good start to not foul but unfortunately that does not prevent unfair, careless, reckless or excessive force from being used to annihilate the opponent. I start off with a good slide tackle with a single leg in that knocks the ball away because they showed too much of the ball and then the player FALLS over my leg is part of soccer. Good timing and a real attempt to play the ball no foul!

Yet if I reach up and grab that player with my hands or swing the other leg in behind and trap his legs in a scissors sweep my getting to the ball first does not save me from these fouls. If I come in hard from behind or straight on in front and poke the ball from between his legs getting the ball nice and clean but the sheer force of my attempt I carry right in through the player unending him or crashing my cleats into his leg, I have endangered his safety. Not only a foul but cardable certainly reckless thus cautionable, be shown a yellow card or quite possibly excessive shown the red card and get sent off.

If there is a collision after a FAIR tackle I often state 'Good or Great Tackle play!' if there appears to be some ill will on the part of the player who loses possession and he starts whining I might say, You showed too much of the ball! You fell over him AFTER he got the ball. Get over it I remember one u-18 lad who executed a perfect tackle single leg in knocking the ball into touch the opponent fell on top wanted a foul. I said, 'SERIOUSLY? That tackle was so good I'd get him to teach my team as an example. You are just mad cause you showed too much of the ball by a poor touch.' He hung his head and nodded I know.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derrek
Getting the ball is only one part of the challenge and it is not a free pass to make heavy contact with an opponent. If the referee believes that the actions of the player are careless or reckless such as following through making heavy contact with the opponents then that is a foul and possible misconduct as well.
Now the game involves contact and there will always be incidental contact between players in challenges. However in situation where the player knowingly follows through and that is the only possible outcome then that is a foul. I would describe it is taking the ball and player together. It makes no difference if the ball happens to be first
Have a look at this compilation of challenges. Many involve contact with no foul. Some are questionable and could easily be called a fouls.
I feel that they are careless / reckless fouls present in particular the challenges at 2.18 , 3.27 and 3.43. These can be called as fouls. There are a few others as well that are on the margins of a foul 1.05, 1.10 and 1.49 and because it is Pros that are playing with no serious contact, the ball is won and no complaint the referee allows play to continue. Certainly in the hands of less experienced players and at the recreational level they can be called as fouls.
So safety is one of the key responsibilities for referees. Setting out that heavy contact on challenges is not acceptable will help protect the players and also assist with match control.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Derek, I am from WI originally too. If ball is touched first that does not mean a foul is not a possibility. It all matters what happens after the ball is contacted. If the player gets ball and then raises a leg or extends the play to foul an opponent, it is a foul. If the player gets ball first and opponent runs into the players outstretched leg, that is traditionally usually not a foul.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Player: 'I got the ball!'

Ref: 'Yes, and then you got the player.'

Getting the ball first does not negate a foul immediately thereafter.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa

Not sure where I heard this originally, but I am confident that just about all referees have heard something similar:

'The ball dost not absolve you of your sins'

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