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Question Number: 33901

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/25/2020

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


we have three fouls of normal intensity. First from the front, second from the side and third from behind.

Which foul is more likely to be punished with a yellow card? Do you take the foul direction into account?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Petr,
If all three fouls are of the same intensity and also of the same nature, then there's no particular reason why they should be penalised differently. There is however always the likelihood in my opinion that a foul from the side will usually have a higher chance of catching more of the player and being inherently more dangerous than a front-on foul (unless it's an over the top foul) and the same goes for a foul from behind as compared to a foul from the side.

Having said that, it isn't always necessarily the case so as always, the referee should judge every foul on its merits and not because of on a pre-conceived notion of what the foul is going to be, based solely on direction.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
You blindside a player with a physical tackle it is likely going to LOOK dangerous & add greater weight to our safety concerns by bringing in the yellow and red cards for consideration. Especially if the player being fouled is hurt or upended in a way that screams for a card. We watch a studs into back of leg as opposed to a shoulder nudge, those studs get a far harder look by us for card value even if the player goes to ground in a similar manner. We can acknowledge that a player who is aware of the impeding tackle can move or brace for the impact where one unaware the opponent is coming has greater chance of harm. ANY tackle from ANY direction that endangers the safety of an opponent is supposed to be sanctioned. We look at force speed and awareness but then it is still possible to slide tackle from the rear and poke a ball free WITHOUT seriously endangering the player . Its a matter of degrees , control , timing & a bit of luck.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
IFAB has been clear that it makes no difference as to the direction of a foul in its sanction.
However the unseen foul from the rear / side is in my book the more offensive ones as the player does not see it and he cannot adjust to take account of it.
We have all seen the player that sees contact coming and he tries to avoid it or limits contact accordingly by jumping up or somewhat out of the way. In addition the foul from the rear / side is the most likely to attract a hostile reaction from opponents.
While it should not make a difference human nature might see the foul from the rear attracting a stronger sanction from referees.
I suspect all referees will have a particular egregious foul that they have a particular dislike for. I personally never liked the foul where a player lunged parallel to the ground in the tackle. That is in my opinion the most likely to cause serious injury.

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