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: 32178

Other 1/18/2018

RE: Under 15

Jeff Banks of Captain Cook , Hawaii USA asks...

The laws of the game have changed infringement to offence. What is the hierarchy of the terms offence, foul, and misconduct?
Is offence the umbrella term and foul and misconduct fall under it?
Has the term persistent infringement changed?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeff,
It is true that the terms 'infringe' and 'infringement' have been replaced by 'offend' and 'offence' - as I read it this is simply a move to standardising on the one term instead of using both, as was the case prior to the 2017-18 Laws update.

The reason for using just the one term was explained by the IFAB as follows:

''Many languages do not have different words for 'offence' and 'infringement', the difference is not clearly understood (even by English experts) and their use inconsistent e.g. a player can be an 'offender' but not an 'infringer'. To make the Laws clearer and to assist translation, 'offence' and 'offend' replace 'infringement' and 'infringe'.''

It is difficult to say too much about the exact meaning of the words 'foul' and 'misconduct' as these terms are not defined in the Laws but yes, they both fall under the category of offences, defined in law as, ''An action which breaks/violates the Laws of the Game.''

The phrase 'persistent infringements' has indeed been changed to 'persistent offences.'

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
The words foul, infringement, infraction all meant the same thing and IFAB has attempted to regularise that with the adoption of the word offence. Referee Grove has given IFAB reasoning on this which is to do with language and translations.
Misconduct is used to describe any conduct by a player that is deemed by the referee to warrant a disciplinary sanction of a yellow or red card. Misconduct may include acts which are, additionally, fouls. Misconduct may occur at any time, including when the ball is out of play, during half-time and before and after the game, and both players and substitutes may be sanctioned for misconduct. This is unlike a foul, which is committed by a player and only against an opponent when the ball is in play.
So there is no hierarchy yet there can be subtle differences. For instance a player changes places with a goalkeeper which is an offence to do so. The players are guilty of misconduct for which they are cautioned at the next stoppage yet there is no change to the restart.
On persistent infringement the only change is the use f the word offence to be consistent.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeff,
the word police have tried to standardize terms for international usage as explained not all languages dealt with the older terms in a clear manner yet it is more of a clean up than a true change.
I think your understanding of the terms is in line with the LOTG and persistent offences is now the correct term for repeated incursions against the LOTG. Given that many restarts now are based on severity & actual impact rather than location to adequately address punishment for the illegal act be it a foul or misconduct on or off the FOP while the ball is IN play. The only real difference is in the abstract of understanding that ONLY misconduct occurs once a restart has been determined after a foul has been awarded & or play has been stopped!. The fact that a foul can have additional misconduct attached as the offence offends more than just the law but the spirit of the game & or the safety of the player or that on a missed foul the misconduct of the event could STILL be punished even if the restart can not change! .

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32178
Read other Q & A regarding Other

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.