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: 33871

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/6/2020

RE: Competive Adult

Jianis Dinas of Jonkoping, Sweden asks...

My question, that it has been alot of discussions about, and I have the perfect clip to show, is if there is a foul if there is contact to the ball first, but also the legs after. And when the ball seems not to be cleared after the first contact.

In the video, the team was awarded a penalty, was this the right decision? Even if there was a contact with the ball before.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jianis
It has never been the case that getting the ball first, meant that a foul could not be committed. Now, there was a time that the law said it was a foul if a player:

''tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball''

The problem was, some people (though not referees as far as I'm aware) misinterpreted that to argue that getting the ball first, meant it was not a foul. It was not the case then and it's not the case now. However, in an effort to avoid that mistaken impression, the wording was removed from the laws in 2008. Unfortunately, the myth persists.

As ref McHugh says, a referee should judge a potential foul on whether the player's actions were careless, reckless or using excessive force. Whether the player gets the ball first has almost nothing to do with that, in almost all cases.

I'm not sure about the clip you show. I don't think it's a particularly clear example one way or the other, if I'm being honest. It does look a little careless but it's not the most egregious foul I've ever seen either. In a match with VAR, for instance, I'm not sure it would (or should) have been overturned as a clear and obvious error, whichever way it had been given.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jianis
At the outset let me state that it is an offence if a player tackles or challenges an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force.
So playing the ball does not exonerate an opponent from committing a foul even if they play the ball first. My colleague Referee Grove has outlined the Law as it was and how many incorrectly interpreted that yet even with the law change the myth persists
In this case I assume there was no VAR so the referee gave what he saw in real time.
In real time this would have looked like a foul. If there was contact on the ball it was not significant and the foul contact also looked slight although it would have looked like a trip in real time.
What may have swayed the decision is that the defender comes from behind plus the ball does not change its path significantly as having being clearly played by the defender plus the fall by the attacker looks like a obvious trip which did happen. As the ball goes slightly to the attackers right that can be a tell tale sign of no real contact on the ball by the left foot of the defender coming from the right.
As a player coaching point I dont like tackles that players make with the *wrong* leg. Had the defender used his right leg here which his positioning required and got contact on the ball it probably might not have been called. Also using the left leg in such situations increases the potential for foul contact on an opponent before playing the ball.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33871
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: 33874

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.