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Question Number: 33572

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 8/14/2019

RE: Comp Under 17

Bob of New york, Ny Usa asks...

Shoulder to shoulder vs charging. I have always seen it that if a player runs in at an angle to the player and knocks them off the ball, even if its with their shoulder vs the ball carriers shoulder, that is a charge. Shoulder to shoulder should be if both are running alongside each other bumping each other. If neither players has the ball and both run at each other to get possession with shoulders I call nothing.

Some players like me calling it that way, others do the "ITS SHOULDER REF" even though they fly in at an angle to take A player off a ball. What is the best way to look at a fair shoulder challenge vs a charge

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Bob
A legal charge is allowed for in the Laws and it involves what I describe as easing an opponent off the ball.
When it moves into careless or reckless it is an offence punished by a direct free kick.
Many in the game think that shoulder to shoulder is acceptable no matter the level of force is used. That is not the case. A player who uses force beyond a fair challenge for space has committed an offence and perhaps it also requires a card for being reckless.
An example would be a player who run from distance and uses his shoulder into the shoulder of an opponent in an overly aggressive manner knocking the player to the ground. While it technically might meet the legal charge conditions it fails on being reckless.
I believe the best way is for a referee to set out his own standard as to what is acceptable taking into account the level of the game. At Underage I am less tolerant of aggressive shoulder use while in open age as long as it is a challenge for space I tend to allow strength to prevail.
Have a look at these two videos
No call on the first one while the second on was called. I would have no difficulty with either call. On the second one playing distance to the ball can be questioned plus did it look like an arm push? It believe it could also have been seen as the defender getting caught off balance and had there been a no call it would not have been a poor call in my opinion . I have allowed ones like this in the past where the stronger player just happened to be better positioned and balanced to win the ball.
I recall one like this last season that ended up as a goal. The conceding team were none too happy about the no call yet the defender knew he was too easily moved off the ball and shook hands after the game with no complaint!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Bob,
The first thing to point out is that charging is not an offence in and of itself. There are legal charges and there are illegal charges.

Under the IFAB's Laws of the Game, a charge is defined as:

''Physical challenge against an opponent, usually using the shoulder and upper arm (which is kept close to the body)''

The laws say that it is only an offence to charge an opponent if it is done, ''in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force.''

So the angle of approach is not necessarily the decisive factor - though it could factor into your judgement of the nature of the charge. In general, I would say that a charge which is side on and shoulder to shoulder is less likely to be seen as illegal than a charge which is not (although again, it depends on the exact nature of it - and especially the amount of force used).

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Bob, I will provide the high school ruling on your question.

An allowable fair charge is when the players make shoulder to shoulder contact in an upright position when within playing distance of the ball, have at least one foot on the ground and their arms held close to the side.

As long as the shoulders are in contact, even though the defender may come at an angle is a legal charge.

Thus, there may be times when your side to side shoulder definition of charging is not valid and you are calling a foul when none has occurred.

You really need to remember the definition of an allowable charge when making a charging call.

I hope that you have a very successful fall season.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Bob the legal charge like, a legal slide tackle has risks that COULD take it from fair to foul depending on how it is done and the degree of force. Players intersecting as a V wedge versus the 90% versus hard right angles have an easier chance of being fair because the pushing aspect of a right angle charge at speed is quite destructive.

If you stand still have a person push you straight away to the side with his free hand on your shoulder . . Try this with your INSIDE Foot lifted high up by your knee just like it might be if you were running chances are you will be bowled over . However, if you were to stand like a stork with the outside leg lifted that lifted leg foot would drop down to cover that jarring push and you likely remain upright .

Tom Cunniffe and Peter Harte go shoulder to shoulder but Harte left injured. This was a HARD LEGAL tackle look at their faces.

Players running at near the same speed who lean into one another is VERY different than intersecting at high speed that creams out an unwary dribbler. Players can come together quite hard and quite fair but it has equatable forces at play.

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