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Question Number: 31632

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/5/2017

RE: rec, select Under 19

gary of nashua, nh usa asks...

I would assume extending both arms around a player (but not joining them or touching the player) would be impeding.Yes?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
Yes that could be deemed to be impeding. However context is everything. Why has the player done this and what impact has it had on the opponent. Some players extend their arms for balance when challenging opponents or indeed some players use their body angle and slightly extend the arms to direct an opponent in a particular direction. Those would not be considered fouls. Also many fouls can be doubtful and trifling which are not called and impeding without contact with no effect on the opponent will be seen many times as trifling which is why it is rarely called.
There will be times as well when players are positioned in such a way that there is physical contact between the players perhaps with raised arm. The tackling player may have his arms extended yet the action may not be seen to be holding or impeding particularly when the opponent is not making an effort to move or advance. The shielding player can also have his arm raised and also while technically maybe a pushing foul that will also rarely be called until it gets beyond the doubtful and trifling category into a obvious push or say a jersey hold which impacts negatively on the players ability to play.
Have a look at this video
Black 4 clearly raises his arms across Red 3 and it should have been a holding foul and a penalty. Nothing was given and with contact it could not be impeding so the IDFK was not a possibility.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

I think it would be very difficult to do that (encircle without touching). So this is pretty much an academic exercise. So on that one in a million (billion? trillion?) chance that it happens, you will be ready to make the correct impeding call. Assuming of course that the encircled opponent actually wants to move, and the circle is impeding his progress.

Most likely, there will be something else that happens that makes it a holding foul, if anything must be called.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
I agree with my fellow referee Voshol that while it might be hypothetically possible, a player putting their arms all the way around another player without making physical contact is virtually impossible. In any real life situation there would be contact and this would be a holding foul.

If you are looking for a somewhat more plausible scenario of impeding without contact (although again, one almost never seen in real life) it would be pretty much exactly as described in the Laws. It would involve a player ''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'' but with no physical contact occurring between the players - which is the unrealistic part: in reality it ends up with contact being made in about 99.9% of cases.

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