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Question Number: 33778

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 11/16/2019

RE: Youth to adult, comp and rec.

Barry Stewart of Chilliwack, BC Canada asks...

A recent situation I saw:

A defender is stood in-place, facing attacking play.

Away from the ball, so unseen by the officials, a bigger, stronger attacker comes and stands in front of the defender, with his back to the defender.

The attacker then starts walking backwards, toward the goal, obliging the defender to: also back up; resist, or push back; or step aside and let him through, with the attacker perhaps becoming a PIOP.

I suspect most would resist or push back, perhaps getting sucked into a foul themselves.

I realize, some forms of 'gamesmanship' often go unpunished, especially if it's away from the ball. What are the legal options for the aggrieved player, in such a situation?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Barry
The game always had shenanigans at set plays usually by both sides. It happens quite a bit around the goalkeeper.
What has annoyed me over the years has been this constant stopping the restart to *speak with* the players. Unless it is bordering on misconduct I believe that referees should get on with play and punish what he sees with a free kick out or a penalty kick. Most if the time I don't see any real change in behaviour.
For me I look for the obvious foul so players generally know what they cannot do which is to charge, hold, push, jump at which are all the upper body offences.
If I see a player being particularly irksome towards an opponent I will pay particular attention to that and call it if I see any foul. If the opponent just stands there or moves to make a genuine attempt to play the ball he will not get called for anything.
Case in point is the player trying to impede the goalkeeper. If he stands there I never call it. Experience has taught me that if the offence is spotted through moving to impede, body hold etc and gets called as a free kick out it usually stops as teams then see it as a waste of a corner.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Barry,
Backing in pushing is a foul just the same as using your hands to push forward. If you crouch down and he trips over you I wonder how a referee scores that? Or if he is running backwards & you jump straight up to head a ball and he undercuts you? Both are fouls on the guy moving backward ! I have awarded a foul when a player shielding a ball decided to stop and backup with arms spread wide . They were surprised , his coach claiming it was the right to shield the ball. Do you think I listened? lol

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Barry,
A good question and the sort of situation that I do often see incorrectly refereed.
All players are entitled to their position on the field. So, the first option for the defender is to stand his ground. If the attacker continues to push, then this may result in a foul by th attacker. What's more likely to occur is both players jostling for position. Particularly in higher skill games or adult games, some of this is likely to be allowed - key things to look out for are the defender pushing the attacker with arms in the back (having said that, sometimes the defender will just place the hands on the back without pushing - perhaps for balance or to keep a closer eye on the movement of the opponent. This isn't a foul, though players will immediately call for one! There needs to be an actual push). What comes with experience is identifying just how much physicality by the 2 players here is permissible - and that may vary between games.
The defender can physically resist being pushed, but if he starts charging the attacker forwards then he may have committed the foul. Similarly, continued charging by the attacker to move the defender off their position can easily be a foul by the attacker.

Of course the defender has the option of letting the attacker go past. One other thing to watch out for is the use of arms wide out by either player preventing the opponent from moving past. Proactive refereeing can telling the players to 'keep your arms out of it!' or whatever works for you.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Barry,
One legal option for the player is as you suggest, to step aside and allow the attacker to move through. If as you also say, this would put the player in an offside position it could potentially have the added advantage of being a good tactical move. Another legal option is to hold his position, which he is entitled to hold and hopefully, the opponent's actions will be spotted and dealt with.

I understand the natural tendency you describe, for a player to push back in this situation but the player should try to resist the temptation.

I would also hope that the officials would be more observant, and be able to spot what was going on.

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