A theoretical situation brought to mind by the recent Croatia-Denmark game.

It's the world cup final. I'm a defender for Aland. Its the final minute of extra time and we look certain to go to penalties... Aland always loses in penalties. Our opponents Bland on the other hand are pretty good at them...

So I make a decision. I go up to the Bland goalkeeper and knock him out with a right hook.

I'm sent off. But I don't care. I'm not one of my team's top penalty takers anyway. Actually its better that I don't have to take one as I'm sure to sky the ball, better it would loop back to our strikers asap.

Since Bland have lost their keeper in the dying minutes they lose the penalty shoot out easily.

It is certain that I'd be remembered as a 10x worse than Maradonna level unsporting scum bag in this situation. Perhaps banned from football for life? Certain I can never visit Bland...

But... Could there be legal consequences outside the game for such a blatant foul?

Why do these not apply in deliberate fouls of the like we saw in the recent Denmark-Croatia game?

  • I usually answer questions about football and this hypothetical scenario is the cruelest scenario in the most beloved sport that I've heard so far. Yet from theoretical point of view it's not completely unreasonable.
    – gdrt
    Jul 1, 2018 at 21:32
  • During the qualificationf for the 2006 world cup, the Uzbekistan-Bahrain match was declared invalid and had to be replayed. That was qualifications, though. Not sure what the rules for the actual tournament are.
    – Polygnome
    Jul 1, 2018 at 21:51
  • Please could you clarify which foul you felt was grievous in the Denmark-Croatia match? AFAIK there weren't any injuries resulting from fouls, nor were any fouls bad.
    – Ben Watson
    Jul 2, 2018 at 8:41
  • he deliberately set out to bring down the man rather than the ball for his team's benefit. From there its a logical jump towards imagining someone setting out to seriously hurt an opponent. Jul 2, 2018 at 8:45
  • 1
    He committed a last-gasp tackle that nearly won the ball. He didn't deliberately set out to bring down his opponent (as evidenced by him only receiving a yellow card). His opponent wasn't injured, nor was the foul dangerous or bad.
    – Ben Watson
    Jul 2, 2018 at 8:48

3 Answers 3


But...Could there be legal consequences outside the game for such a blatant foul?

Absolutely. Laws are not suspended when somebody steps onto a football field. Perhaps the most famous incident of this type was when Duncan Ferguson headbutted John McStay; Ferguson was jailed for three months for assault.

Why do these not apply in deliberate fouls of the like we saw in the recent Denmark-Croatia game?

At least under English law, it's tricky to see what offence has been committed in this sort of scenario. (I'm well aware the World Cup is not in venues where English law has jurisdiction, but I know nothing about Russian law, so...)


Punishment for serious fouls extend beyond the match and beyond the competition. It may even affect the player when playing with his team (besides the national selection) and therefore impairing his ability to make money as a professional player.

For example, in Luís Suárez was found guilty of biting another player in the 2014 World Cup. For several months, he was banned from any football related activity, even from training with his club.

The case in the question would be very similar to this one. Therefore, the answer is yes, we could expect such a blatant foul to have consequences outside the game.


Yes, as stated in the other answers, a foul can have legal consequences. To add another example: Dutch Sparta Rotterdam player Rachid Bouaouzan was taken to court for battery and subsequently sentenced a six-month conditional jail sentence. This happened after he had broken another player's leg with a horrific tackle. He had to pay compensation to Kokmeijer, the player whose leg he had broken, since Kokmeijer had to retire from professional football.
It does not happen very often, however a few years back there was another Dutch case where a player was found guilty by the court (source in Dutch) and had to pay a 9000 euro fine and perform community service after a tackle.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.