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Question Number: 30564

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/4/2016

RE: Recreational (Weekend comp, Sunday league, equival College

Jared of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

As a defender in my last game, I was chasing a player down the wing who proceeded to cut into the 18 yard box. I wasn't very far behind him, so I did not have time to react when he stepped in front of me (still in control of the ball) and stopped. I ran into his back, knocking him over and the ref called a penalty and gave me a yellow card. I'm just curious as to the rulings for this situation, as there was nothing I can do to prevent myself from running into the player when he stopped in front of me.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jared
The referee is not a mind reader and the gives what he sees. So the key to this decision is the position and control of the ball. If the attacker had control of the ball and it was within playing distance then knocking down the player from behind will be viewed as an illegal charge or a push which is a penal foul. It makes no difference that the action was unintentional. If the ball had moved away from the attacker plainly outside of playing distance then the attacker would be guilty of holding.
Now when challenging for the ball in such circumstances there is an onus on the tackler to be careful so at to not allow this type of contact to happen. To do so in a possible challenge is careless which is a foul. Indeed if the contact is strong enough it would be deemed reckless. I suspect here though that the caution was for the tactical element rather than for the manner of the challenge.
Have a look at this video
White -Shane Long stops with the ball and Blue - Paul Pogba makes contact with him from the rear. Referee sees this as a penalty. Now one can argue that Long *manufactured* the foul by stopping which ensures contact from behind yet there is also an onus on the Blue tackler to ensure that he does not allow that to happen. BTW Blue was not cautioned.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


This is a tactic often used by attackers. The defender must be in control of their body and this includes not barreling over the attacker in front of them. In this case, the attacker occupied an open space and therefore has a right to that area to play the ball. You as the defender charged into the attackers back which unfairly knocked him out of that space, hence the foul (regardless of intent).

I would tend to agree with Referee McHugh that the caution was likely for a tactical foul given the location on the field and the direction of play in towards the box.

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