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: 32003

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/6/2017

RE: Adult

stan of BASILDON, Essex United Kingdom asks...

(in the penalty area)
the scenario:
a defending player slips over on wet grass, on his way to the floor he collides with an opposition player knocking him over, there is no intention to a) fall over, b) collide with the opposition player.

His slip is exactly that, a slip.

what is the decision?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

If the referee felt that the player should have been more careful because of the slippery conditions, a foul could be called because the action was careless. I have warned youth players in the past that because of the conditions, they need to be more careful today.

Read other questions answered by Referee Gary Voshol

View Referee Gary Voshol profile

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Stan,
This is a difficult one, and you'll find that different referees will probably take different approaches. Also, no 2 incidents are identical, so 'it depends' is really the shortest answer.
According to the laws, 'careless' is the minimum standard for most typical fouls - eg 'careless trips an opponent'. That is, the player played without due consideration.
That clearly makes sense when they're going in for a tackle - but if they are just running, fall and trip the opponent, is that acting without due consideration? You could argue it's just an accident, or you could argue that the player lacked consideration in managing their footing in the ground, so they were careless in that regard and tripping the opponent was the outcome.

I tend to think the latter works, but there's some leeway for the referee to consider the situation.

If a defender is running towards an attacker at full speed, tries to slow down hard to make the tackle 2 yards away, loses their footing in the mud and slides straight into the opponent, then I'd want to see that as a foul. It's completely the defender's fault - and the ref could still consider a card if it's reckless.
If it's a crowded penalty area, a defender standing still tries to turn around and just slips and falls into an attacker as a result, is that a foul? Probably not. You couldn't really argue any careless action there.
While the referee may be able to take the field conditions into some consideration, it is really the responsibility of the players to consider the field conditions. If they fail to do that, then it's on them to suffer the consequences.

Read other questions answered by Referee Jason Wright

View Referee Jason Wright profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stan
There was a penalty award this very weekend in such a scenario. I looked at it and I saw a clear slip by the defender followed by the attacker being tripped by the prostrate defender.
Now intent is not a requirement for a foul. The player who slips has been careless in his action and as he has tripped an opponent then that is a foul. It might seem harsh yet it is also harsh on the attacker who has managed to stay on his feet and he has been prevented from continuing to play by a trip, contact by an opponent.
Now there may be times where it has no effect on play. In my game yesterday on a soft pitch a player slipped into a defender as the ball was played away. There was no issue as it was just seen as a player falling into an opponent due to a slip with no one disadvantaged or heavy contact. The defender reached down to help up the attacker so I just allowed play to continue. Had the action though prevented the defender from playing or getting to the ball I would have called it as a foul.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Stan,
There was a reason they took away the intent aspect and went with careless reckless or excessive on fouls given we can not mind read so we judge what occurs. I had a red player trip over his own feet and catch the defending blue players leg who then knocked over the red attacker by stumbling into the back of his heel. There was no PK awarded although the red player screamed because he was unaware the ONLY reason the blue player made contact was the previous red team mate stumbling into blue causing the chain reaction. Now there was a foul, it was on the 1st red player who tripped over their own feet but I simply let the blue keeper play the ball as they benefited from the foul by having an easy possession. Yes it was accidental clearly I saw the toe heel click that started it all BUT it created a great kerfuffle as would it if the blue player had the ball in the red PA. Now the need to caution or send off might be mitigated by such a careless foul but he fact it affected dynamic play is hard to overlook.

Now if a player has fallen say backing up trying to turn and goes down the following opponent tries to leap over and trips. I make no call because careless aspect is not created with dynamic play as in a challenge affecting the player with the ball but with accidental situation arising from the fall. The opponent in trying to evade the player who fell on the ground accidentally could have gone around, stopped or jumped higher.

I have seen a attempted clearance get flubbed as the kicker in trying to kick loses balance and goes horizontal on the slippery field the opponent coming in now has a horizontal 6 foot across figure flailing about and tried to step over the downed player but caught her arm as she went across and also falls. One team wants a foul for the trip the other for their player getting stepped on. In this case neither was at fault simply a coming together as the free space is now filled suddenly by the prone player rather than one on her feet. To try and stop suddenly on slippery fields is difficult which is likely why players choose to leap then stop.

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stan,
I suspect this is to do with the incident in this week's English Premier League that ref McHugh refers to.

As mentioned by my colleagues, the referee must only decide based on whether the player's actions were careless (or reckless or using excessive force). Whether there was any intention or not is irrelevant, according to the law. The element of intent was removed from physical challenge offences in 1995 and since then, is not to be considered by the referee.

If a player in wet conditions, goes into a challenge in such a way that he loses control of his movements, I think a referee could well decide that the player has been careless. So if in the opinion of the referee, the player has carelessly tripped an opponent, that is a foul leading to to a free kick (or in the penalty area, a penalty kick).

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32003
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.