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Question Number: 32608

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 7/30/2018

RE: Competitive Under 17

David Israel of San Jose, CA USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29295

Regarding http://asktheref.com/Soccer%20Rules/Question/29295/ I have a son playing up an age group and so maybe biased but I am increasingly perplexed why soccer allows any contact from behind a player. First there was FIFA's failed attempt to have rules about tackles from behind. But even if a player is just shielding the ball I don't understand why bumping is routinely allowed. Demanding a referee determine 'trifling' or not at the upper levels seems unnecessary - almost all the contact from behind is a foul.

The benefit of the doubt currently seems with the defender unless the attacker makes a particularly good show of falling down on contact. For younger players or smaller players like Neymar we end up with the effectiveness of that player varying from game to game depending on referee interpretation. Particularly at the youth level this ambiguity is destroying technical player development. Players must either be super strong or super fast and shielding is a lost art.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
One of the challenges that referees constantly face at all levels of the game is mismatch between players. Nothing I like more is two evenly matched players giving and accepting physical contact.
Whether we like it or not soccer is a contact sport and there is always going to be contact between players. the test is to interpret what contact is fair and legal and what is not.
So when shielding not all contact from behind is a foul. The shielding player has to accept that there will be contact and it is up to the referee to determine if that contact is illegal or not. It should also be noted that shielding players also engage in some illegal contact such as holding off with an arm.
I would say that most referees have zero tolerance on careless or reckless contact from the rear.



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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi David,
Association Football (soccer) has always been a game that involves a certain amount of incidental physical contact between players. It is not an object of the game but is an inevitable part of the way the game is played. The referee is not simply deciding whether contact is trifling, rather whether the contact is careless, reckless or uses excessive force. Whether the contact is from the side, from the front, from an angle or from behind, the same three considerations apply. It is true that a tackle from behind can be more dangerous as the opponent does not always see it coming and so can't always adequately protect themselves or take evasive action but for me, shielding still is a part of the game.

When I was a coach we used to have whole drills teaching players how to shield the ball and I would say they were some of the more popular drills with our players. Learning to use your body weight and position to hold onto the ball, hold off the opponent and retain possession for your team is one of the essential skills in soccer and I hope it will remain so.



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