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Question Number: 31629

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/4/2017

RE: rec, select Under 19

gary of nashua, nh usa asks...

what is the physical difference between holding and impeding? I know that impeding is considered no contact but often it appears that the defender is making contact due to the offensive players momentum.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gary,
the difference is the type of CONTACT.

Holding I tend to grab jersey or pull on the shoulder or hug or use the arm to push or sling myself around you as we challenge for the ball or I seek to prevent you from attacking or moving away

Impeding is me placing myself in front of you and you running wide to avoid me I move with you to block your access forcing you to go around and the ball is not within playing distance so it can not be shielded . There is NO contact it is an INDFK only.

However if we bump together as in you run into me or I back into you usually with butt out and arms spread we have contact it is a form of holding and has been decreed as a DFK offence thus a PK if inside the PA upgraded from INDFK . The contact is at times minimal as much as it could develop into obvious blocking action of pushing holding, arm across the face or chest it is not a jersey grab or pulling action.

The LOTG actually included it under INDFKS
2. Indirect free kick
An indirect free kick is awarded if a player:

• impedes the progress of an opponent without any contact being made

Then note the DFK portion under LAW 12 they added a 4th offence which only has to occur, it is not judged the same as the 7 penal offences
against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless,
reckless or using excessive force

If an offence involves contact it is penalised by a direct free kick or penalty

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences:
• handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within their penalty
• holds an opponent
• impedes an opponent with contact
• spits at an opponent

The takeaway here is even slight contact creates an unfair advantage if the defender can effectively block the attacker from the ball when there is no effort to play the ball .


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Impeding is now such a rare offence that in my opinion it serves very little purpose in the Laws. The Laws state that impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the opponent’s path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction when the ball is not within playing distance of either player. It goes on to say that all players have a right to their position on the field of play and being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.
These types of impeding fouls now always end up in contact which escalates them into the more serious penal foul of holding or charging which has a direct free kick restart. We can call it momentum or for that matter the attacking player just continuing with his run yet once there is contact it gets called as a penal foul. The referee can allow notional advantage for a split second so that the no contact impeding foul is ignored and the immediate contact foul is the one that is always called
I cannot recall the last impeding foul that I called or indeed seen called at any level as if the players gets past the opponent without contact play always continues and if there is contact by the impeding player the penal foul is called once there is no advantage.
I am around the game long enough to recall the old *obstruction* offence which had an IDFK restart and there was always contact such as a player blocking off a run either accidentally or deliberately. The law makers did not like that contact being an IDFK offence so it was replaced with impeding which has no contact and contact will now always result in the penal foul bet it holding using the body or charging also with the body.
So my advice is that no contact impeding is very difficult to call as the opponent can try to move out of the way of a player or just stand there using his right to be in that position. Calling an IDFK foul in such circumstances is extremely difficult to do as in the first instance the player will have not been contacted by his opponent and secondly with no contact probably has gone around him getting on with play.
So while the impeding foul is on the statute books it is such a rare call that it is almost redundant with the focus instead on the follow on contact part which has the DFK restart. Players when there is no contact on them do not expect a foul to be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
Since the 2016-17 edition of the Laws there are actually two kinds of impeding offences - with contact (DFK) and without contact (IFK). So the old idea that impeding does not involve contact, is no longer true.

I agree with ref McHugh that impeding without contact is an extremely rare offence and I like him have almost never seen it and cannot recall having penalised a player for it.

Although the Laws no longer contain the 'full' definition of holding that they used to, up till 2016 they had the following:

''Holding an opponent includes the act of preventing him from moving past or around using the hands, the arms or the body.''

Assuming this definition is still applicable, it seems to me there is no appreciable difference between holding and impeding with contact.

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