Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 4930

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Jason Wright of Central Coast, NSW Australia asks...

I know that pushing is illegal according to law 12. However, something that has come to attention is certain players 'stiff-arming' another player. This happens more in junior soccer than senior soccer. What I mean is, a player with the ball is running down the field and sees a defender running up beside him, so he holds his arm out to prevent the defender reaching him. He doesn't exactly push him, and there is no force in further separating the players, moreso just to prevent him getting close. I generally allow the attacker to do this for a touch or two on the defender (after that from the jostling the defender will usually evade the stiff arm and if the attacker tries again he's pushing), but it depends on each instance. The defending players usually complain of pushing though. As a general rule, what is your take on 'stiff-arming'?

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

This clearly falls under "In the opinion of the referee". Stiff arming certainly could be seen as pushing or even holding so, in general, I try to discourage it. Players aren't supposed to be using their hands and arms in this manner. But...if you're comfortable with a little contact in this manner it's your call. I'd be much stricter with the younger kids than the older, but that's my opinion.

Read other questions answered by Referee Keith Contarino

View Referee Keith Contarino profile

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Jason you are entitled to your opinion, but why train players that the Law means nothing? Aren't you really saying that cheating is fine as long as you don't do it very long?..Regards,

Read other questions answered by Referee Chuck Fleischer

View Referee Chuck Fleischer profile

Answer provided by Referee Dawson

A stiff arm as in pointy ball football is a foul. Larger kids use it to blast through opponents as a form of intimidation. THe hand is fingers up, palm faces away. ..It is true we allow a bit of tug and tussle with the arms but in the protecting the ball posession players tend to extend out the arms to hold off the challenges as well as for slingshot manuvers i.e.pushing off the other player or wrap arounds i.e. where an opponent is turned or spun as a fulcrum point...Acceptability of all this can be considered as trival or player orientated in that they accept a certain amount as fair between them. However, you need to be aware the unfair use of the arms particularily at youth level is in fact holding or pushing and could be called as either... Foul recognition is an art in as it is science and experiance, be it your own or gleaned by others is the only remedy. Cheers

Read other questions answered by Referee Dawson

View Referee Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 4930
Read other Q & A regarding Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

The following questions were asked as a follow up to the above question...

See Question: 30267

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.