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Question Number: 32368

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 4/13/2018

RE: highschool

Allan Farrar of Monroe, Wisconsin USA asks...

> Last night, a defender was clearing the ball from an attacking opponent.
> The defender cleared the ball just prior to the attacker making a stab at the ball with her leg.
> The defender's cleat hit the attacker's extended leg.
> There was an injury (no break) to the attacker's leg, but the leg was bleeding due to the contact.
> Should this have been called a foul?
> If so, should this have been a card (yellow or red).
> Center referee said the injury was unfortunate, but did not consider the defender's play excessive force because of the leg extension to the defender's cleat by the attacker.
> Could this explanation be correct?
> Thanks!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Allan
Thanks for the question.
Soccer is a contact sport and there are times when there is unfortunate contact between players that is accidental with no intent.
This situation is something that happens from time to time where a player's natural follow through makes contact with an opponent whose movement a second or so before places her in that position which result in contact. Many times it can be against the challenger as she can cause contact and injury to the kicker with cleats showing into the kickers follow through space. Both can be hurt there. Other times it can be a foul against the kicker depending on circumstances.
Now having said that playing the ball is not a free pass at being careless or reckless in challenging for or playing the ball.
In recent times there has been an increase of the challenge that plays the ball yet the player aggressively continues onwards into the opponent. That is a foul, a caution for being reckless and if excessive force is used the player is sent off.
Have a look at this scenario
In this instance in the opinion of the referee , the player used excessive force in the challenge. The kicker made no effort to curtail the kick and it was certainly an excessive force foul.
I had one of these some weeks back where a goalkeeper came out, played the ball and his follow through momentum caught the attacking challenger on the follow through. It did not look like a foul as the attacker moved into the path of the kick from the side into the path of the keeper and IMO simply players coming together in a challenge. The attacking team were none too happy yet were somewhat unsure.
Now having not had the benefit of seeing your incident the referee should consider the following
1. How high up the contact was on the opponent
2. The manner of the follow through such as straight leg, cleats showing, overly aggressive with no concern for the opponent
3. Does the kicker try to limit the follow through and a genuine normal regular kick
4. Could the player have avoided the manner of his kick with a pull back after the ball was played.
5. Mood of the game and the kickers previous conduct in challenges
I have encountered challenges where there has been accidental contact after the ball is played and also seen cautions and dismissals in such circumstances .
In summary the referees explanation could be correct yet it could be that he did not see the incident correctly from his unique angle of view. No one likes to see any injury and safety is paramount.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Allan,
The explanation could be accurate. However, it's almost impossible to judge many (if not most) fouls without seeing them.

Ref McHugh has given a comprehensive explanation of the possibilities here and as he says, it could be a foul, with or without a card of either colour for either player or it could be a valid judgment to say that no foul occurred.

I would just mention though, that just because one player was injured (and as unfortunate as that might be) it doesn't mean that player has been fouled. It is in fact relatively common for players to commit a foul but get injured in doing so.

Although as mentioned, it can't be said for sure without seeing the actual events, I would say that in the kinds of situation you describe, where the defender is making a clearance and the forward sticks a leg in late (and assuming there was not an excessive follow-through by the defender) it is more commonly a foul by the attacker than the defender.

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