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Question Number: 33430

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/10/2019

RE: rec Adult

Gary of nashua, nh usa asks...

It seems that a growing number of players/coaches believe any type of shoulder contact is legal. I have always been taught that reckless and even red card offenses can occur with any body part. To me, a legal shoulder challenge involves an attempt to win the ball outright with no reckless/border line reckless contact. Thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
I use the term *easing* an opponent off the ball when describing a legal shoulder charge which should be executed shoulder to shoulder with the ball within playing distance.
Any charge that I believe is in my opinion careless or eckless gets called as as an offence. For instance a player runs from distance and crashes his shoulder into an opponents shoulder knocking him over gets called as an illegal charge. It might attracts howls of disapproval with l,Ayer pointing to their shoulder yet that makes no difference to my call

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Gary,
I agree nothing in the LOTG states you can indiscriminately endanger the safety of another in a fair challenge of ANY sort. Foul interpretation is as much art & feel as it is science & physics. As a referee your opinion is paramount, but you need to understand the dynamics of actual play. Players are large, fast and in motion so speed and mass create physic dilemmas that you must be aware of. If two players are moving at similar speeds at a v type intersecting angle while chasing the ball that is WITHIN playing distance they can smack together with considerable force initially just as much a one can lean in and try to ease the other off the ball once they get close. It is in fact a collision of sorts, look at the faces of the two men does that look like a gentle nudging?

The player on the right was actually injured in the exchange yet both players, referee and those playing had no issues with a no call as it was solid bone jarring legal tackle . Imagine if one player was stationary, do you think the picture would look remotely the same? Guarantee the one sided contact would be a foul based on the careless reckless or excessive force and it is most likely the stationary player would get his clock cleaned .

In understanding that tolerance & acceptance of a certain degree of physicality is something players will endure & referees can accept as reasonable these conditions do vary at skill levels and even between national teams. All I can advise is try to recognize what is tolerated versus what you are willing to accept and call it the same for both teams, after all your decision your match your reputation is founded upon how you manage a game!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
For as long as I can remember, players - and their coaches, and even spectators supporting that team, will claim that a particular action wasn't a foul when (at least in the referee's eyes) it clearly was. This is true of shoulder charges, tackles and challenges of all kinds.

The law defines a charge as a: ''Physical challenge against an opponent, usually using the shoulder and upper arm (which is kept close to the body)''

If this is carried out in a manner the referee judges as careless, reckless or using excessive force, it is a foul. So no matter whether a player points at their shoulder after committing a foul charge with the shoulder or at the ball after having fouled an opponent to win it, the referee should judge the action on its merits, not on anything claimed by the perpetrator or their adherents.

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