I Got Ball, Ref!
What Is…
• Careless?
• Reckless?
• Using excessive force?
• The player has shown a lack of attention or consideration
when making a challenge, or he has acted without
• A player who is careless in making or attempting contact
has committed a foul
• This is usually a simple miscalculation of strength or a
stretch in judgment of the player
• The player has acted with complete disregard for the
danger to or consequences for his/her opponent
• A player who plays in a reckless manner has committed a
foul and must be cautioned for unsporting behavior
• A player who is reckless has clearly played outside the
norms of fair play
Using Excessive Force
• The player has far exceeded the necessary use of force and
is in danger of injuring his opponent
• A player who uses excessive force has committed a foul
and must be sent off for serious foul play
• A player who uses excessive force has played totally
outside the bounds of normal play
Fair or Foul?
Two opponents are shoulder to shoulder, each challenging for
the ball. The defender pokes the ball away from the attacker
with his foot and leg in a normal position relative to the
ground and play. The defender makes contact with the ball
first, then the attacker stumbles over the defender’s leg, falling
to the ground.
Fair – Why?
Fair or Foul?
A defender is facing an attacker and makes a play on the ball,
striking the ball just as the attacker is pushing the ball to the
outside to go around the defender. The attacker trips over
the ball, falling to the ground.
Fair – Why?
Fair or Foul?
Two opponents are shoulder-to-shoulder challenging equally
for the ball. The Red player steps between the ball and the
Blue player’s foot, but touches the ball first. Blue falls over
Red’s leg and foot, falling to the ground.
Foul – Why?
Fair or Foul?
The attacker is on a fast break up field after beating a player
on the defending team to the ball. As the attacker is running
up the touchline, a defender challenges for the ball by slidetackling the attacker from behind. The leading foot clearly
makes contact with the ball first, but the trailing foot hits the
attacker’s calf causing the attacker to fall to the ground,
grabbing his calf in pain.
Foul – Why?
Scenario #1
You are the referee in a GU-16 match. About midway through
the first half, the Red team is building an attack in the middle
third of the field. As Red #2 is dribbling downfield, Blue #3
challenges her for the ball. Blue #3 makes contact with the
ball with her left foot but at the same time, pushes her left hip
into the right hip of Red #2 dispossessing her of the ball.
What action should be taken?
What is the rationale for this action?
Scenario #1 Answer
• Whistle for the foul and restart with a direct free kick for
the Red team
• Even though Blue #3 got the ball first, she “hip checked”
Red #2, pushing her off the ball. This is a careless charging
Scenario #2 (part 1)
You are the referee in a BU-19 match. This game has been
hotly contested with neither team dominating the game. There
are 6 minutes left in the match. Blue #21 has just successfully
tackled the ball away from Red #3 with a legal slide tackle.
Blue #21 dribbles the ball about 20 yards toward the touch
line toward your assistant referee. Blue #21 then turns up
field and is about to kick the ball to a teammate when Red #3
challenges by slide tackling for the ball.
Scenario #2 (Part 2)
Red #3 successfully touches the ball first with his lead foot
but at the same time wraps his trailing leg around the back of
Blue #21’s leg. Red #3 then raises his lead leg up and
twists his body causing his legs to close around the
opponent’s legs in a scissors movement. Blue #21 goes to the
ground face first. You and your assistant referee both indicate
the foul at the same time.
What action should be taken?
What is the rationale for this action?
Scenario #2 Answer
• Whistle the foul and issue a red card to Red #3 for using excessive
force on the tackle (serious foul play). Restart with a direct free
kick for the defending team.
• The referee should run toward the spot of the foul giving a loud,
long whistle. The referee should also be aware of potential
problems with both teams. Check for injury and summon a trainer
or coach if needed. The referee may consider checking with his AR
to make sure they are on the same page.
• With the game as heated as it was, the referee needs to take
decisive action and issue the red card to Red #3. Even though Red
#3 got the ball first, he used excessive force in doing so.
Scenario #3 (part 1)
You are the referee at a GU-19 match, a rivalry between two
Regions. The last time they played, Red defeated Blue 5-0.
This game is into the second half with Red winning 6-0. It has
been a tough match with Red clearly dominating. Red #6 has
just received the ball from a pass at the top of Blue’s penalty
arc when Blue #4 challenges for the ball by slide tackling from
the front.
Scenario #3 (part 2)
Blue #4, with cleats up, raises her leg so that her foot comes
over the top of the ball but catches enough of the ball to deflect
it away from Red #6. Red #6 sees the cleats up and moves aside
to safely avoid the cleats but into the path of Blue #4’s trailing
foot. Red #6 is tripped by the trailing foot. The ball goes to Red
#12, and you play the advantage. Red #12 shoots the ball which
goes out of play after hitting the crossbar.
What action should be taken?
What is the rationale for this action?
Scenario #3 Answer
• Playing the advantage was appropriate. The referee should
now caution Blue #4 for unsporting behavior (recklessly
fouling) and restart with a goal kick.
• It is legal to slide tackle, but when a player comes in “cleats
up” there is a high probability of harm. In this scenario the
cleats did not make contact with attacker but the defender
played in a dangerous manner by exposing her cleats.
• A caution is appropriate for the reckless “cleats up” tackle
and subsequent tripping foul. A send-off is not appropriate
because the cleats never made contact with the opponent.
• Anytime a challenge for the ball is made by two players, the
referee must evaluate the challenge
– Was the contact made with the ball before (or even at
the time) contact is made with the opponent?
– Is the challenge made in a careful manner with only the
amount of force necessary to dispossess the opponent
of the ball?
– Did initially fair contact turn foul?
– Was the contact careless, reckless, or made using
excessive force?

I Got Ball, Ref!