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Question Number: 32045

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/22/2017

RE: Rec Under 13

Eugene of San Jose, CA USA asks...

A red attacker was sprinting up the field with the ball, pushing it a couple of feet in front of her on the dribble. A blue defender came hard from the side and placed herself between the attacker and the ball, with her back to the attacker. The attacker's forward momentum made her run into the defender's back (the defender wasn't stopped but trying to adjust the direction of her run toward the ball). Due to the difference in size, the attacker trampled over the defender, who had to be helped off the field by her coach.

I felt that the defender's actions caused the collision, and the attacker did not have the time and space to prevent it. So, after dealing with the injured player situation, I gave a DFK to the red team. That was not received well by the red team fans :)

Did I make the right call? Would it have been different if the defender had kicked away the ball before or during the collision?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Eugene, all any referee with integrity can do is call what they see based on what they know. Foul recognition is as much an art form as it is a science and collisions at high speed with only a fraction of a second to decide who or what is causing the mayhem is not a job for the faint hearted I assure you.

When players are running but facing backwards and the player defending is in behind and there is a collision we often call the player backing up and under at least as often as a defender coming up and over as the careless action of not watching where you are going being to focused on receiving the ball.

In your case a player who allows the ball to drift too far ahead to when a defender can slip in between to play the ball one would look to see if the ball was in fact played and is it within playing distance or was it a careless step in front of a moving train? The difference might be in the angle of approach if it was a parallel run with a v vector where the defender was simply faster versus a right angle cutting across which would be far more dangerous as the speed necessary to pursue the ball is not yet achieved and creates the collision for the reasons you mention. No one stops on a dime and there is a difference in chasing a player then running into them versus one stepping into your path and impeding with contact is certainly plausible here. . Intercepting runs are indeed quite dangerous as the collision is not a leaning in or easing off the ball more of mass and speed versus mass and speed, bigger mass wins!

I can not say with certainty it was 100% foul or the call was spot on but I think your reasoning is solid although I wonder at your wording it says you gave the RED team a DFK and RED was upset? One would think the opposition was upset or was it a DFK against the red team . Red team being the defender's team?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eugene,
It's always difficult (sometimes virtually impossible) to say whether something was a foul without seeing the actual incident and even then, as a glance at any refereeing discussion forum will show, opinions can remain divided.

I think what a foul like this comes down to, is which player (if any) you think has initiated the foul contact. Was it caused by the defender cutting the forward off by running across her path in such a way that the attacker could not possibly have avoided contact - or did the attacker cause the contact by carelessly running into the defender when she should have been able to avoid doing so?

Judging who is at fault in a challenge between two players when one is not clearly guilty of kicking, tripping, pushing, holding etc is always tricky so you just have to call them as you see them.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eugene
I suspect you mean it was not well received by the Blue team supporters.
Anyway as the old saying goes *One can only please some of the people some of the time not all of the people all of the time*.
The key to the decision is the position of the Blue defender relative to the ball at the moment of the contact. If Blue got into a position within playing distance of the ball, without fouling the Red attacker in doing so, then Red has to adjust to the new position of Blue who is now in possession of the ball. If all that Blue did was run into the path of Red and the ball is not within playing distance then it is a holding foul by Blue when Red runs into her. If however Blue was able to get into a position on the ball and is in a shielding position then if Red clatters into the back of Blue that is foul against Red
We see this type of play in shielding by defenders where they move to position themselves between the ball and the attacker as it goes out of play or back to the goalkeeper. If the ball is within playing distance then there is no foul by the defender. Playing distance is a judgement call yet it is typically within a pace or so of the ball.
Have a look at this video
There are a series of situations where a player has been able to put himself in a position between the opponent and the ball legally. Any action by the dispossessed player to charge or push the shielding player is a foul.

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