# In football, when, if ever, does shielding the ball with the foot become tripping?

If player A is within a foot or two of the ball, and an approaching player B makes a play for the ball with his foot.

Player A places his foot between player B and the ball, and player B falls to the ground.

Under what conditions is that viewed as tripping versus shielding?

A player may shield the ball by taking a position between an opponent and the ball if the ball is within playing distance and the opponent is not held off with the arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.

Distance to the ball which allows a player to touch the ball by extending the foot/leg or jumping or, for goalkeepers, jumping with arms extended. Distance depends on the physical size of the player.

Also note that:

Being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.

So, the question scales down to which of the players are within playing distance of the ball:

• If player A is within playing distance of the ball and player A places his foot between player B and the ball, then it's shielding.

• If player B is within playing distance of the ball and player A places his foot between player B and the ball, then it's tripping.

• If both player A and player B are within playing distance of the ball, then whoever before this disputable move from player A was over control of the ball gets a decision in his favor.

• What if the ball is on the way to player A and player B is running to intercept? Does shielding vs tripping come down to the location of the ball? Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 10:24
• If you think that this case doesn't fall under aforementioned 3 cases, then look at the 1st link I've provided. It says that: Being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent. So, you shouldn't move into the way of an opponent.
– gdrt
Commented Apr 23, 2017 at 10:42
• thanks!! - I like that distinction! (being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent) Commented Apr 24, 2017 at 10:39
• I disagree with the final point. It's entirely possible to step across in front of a player who has control of the ball, when the ball is in playing distance of both players without committing a foul. Defenders do this quite often when shielding the ball out for a goal kick. In fact, if the attacker makes contact, the free kick can often go the other way. Commented May 2, 2017 at 1:23
• I think the case you describe is case 1 with a minor modification: the player A quickly approaches the ball and becomes "more" in the playing distance of the ball rather than B. Otherwise, it's a foul and/or IMHO one of the sources of many disputable decisions made by referees.
– gdrt
Commented May 2, 2017 at 8:16