“Explaining new Football Rules: Deliberate vs Accidental” – Rodric Leerling

Image to illustrate my blog on reffing FC Utrecht-Willem II U16 teams, Jan 2016
Rodric Leerling, Leerling.biz, RefRod, Sportief Westfriesland

The new footie season has only just started and I’ve already issued two red cards. Both for similar fouls, by the way.  This weekend it was a U17 player taking his opponent down just before the box. With no more defenders before him, the attacker had only the goalkeeper in front of him and positioned himself in a strong goal scoring opportunity.

The defender claimed he was playing the ball and accidently also clipped his opponent. Well, young man, the ball wasn’t going the direction of the tackle and you took him down from behind, a rather clumsy way to try to play a ball in my opinion.

He walked off the pitch, swearing and hitting the boarding, probably to demonstrate everyone it was not him who made a mistake, but the referee. The consequent free kick (not a penalty) would go in as well. The sent-off player (or his coach) could have started a formal discussion with me referring to the new FIFA rules. And what if the foul would have been two meters further towards the goal and inside the box? Should I not have issued just a yellow card and a penalty kick (double-punishment) or maintain the triple-punishment rule? The answer must be ‘no’ as IFAB clearly says: “only players committing accidental fouls that deny a goalscoring chance will now be cautioned instead” and this was no accidental foul, but a clear “deliberate foul“.

Thinking about it again when filling in the foul report, I learned about this important distinction and will need it, no doubt, at a later stage. I can almost feel there are more red cards coming.

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