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: 31446

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/10/2017

RE: PDA Under 12

Paul D'Imperio of Easton, PA United States asks...

During play, an offensive player was standing in the penalty area and was shoved to the ground by a defensive player. The ball was in the area, but was not being played by either player. Since the incident occurred in the penalty area, I awarded a penalty kick. Was this the correct decision?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Paul
Yes that was the correct decision. As the ball was in play the defender was guilty of pushing an opponent. It is not necessary for the ball to be present at the location of the foul. Indeed some fouls occur *off the ball* and referees have to watch to ensure that such fouls are seen and dealt with. These fouls can affect subsequent play not just where the ball is but including where the ball is going. There is every likelihood that the action was also unsporting behaviour which should result in a caution.
Here is an example
The defender is clearly seen to hold / pull the attacker and prevent his movement towards the ball. It is a penalty kick and a caution for USB.
In addition referees need to play attention to possible violent conduct which can happen off the ball when it is in play. A player can strike an opponent when perhaps the ball is not near them. That is clearly a foul and a red card for violent conduct.
Here is an example of an off the ball incident spotted by the referee crew with the ball well away from the incident.
The restart was a DFK from where the White kneed the attacker in the back after White was sent off for violent conduct.
A final word of caution. Only look for and deal with deliberate fouls. Sometimes players will engage in nonsense such as squaring up, pushing away, verbals etc. Both players can be equally guilty and it can be unfair not to deal with both equally. Sometimes it is a matter of watching the behaviour closely while the ball is elsewhere to see it does not escalates into something more. An example might be a defender who has a forward in his face giving him verbals pushing the attacker away. I would not award a free kick for that push away. If necessary I would stop play and deal with both equally. The restart could be a dropped ball if both players offended at the same time. Alternatively it could be a watch and see what happens and if nothing more serious develops then a word with both at the next stoppage may suffice.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Paul,
spot on mate looks like you remembered the LOTG to correctly award a PK for a direct free kick event occurring within the penalty area of the guilty party!

It should be noted though that fouls AWAY from play often have misconduct attached for the USB or reckless or violent actions given these are essentially attacks not a challenge for the ball.
In many cases a caution yellow card or a red card send off could be needed !

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 31446
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

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.