I was reffing a boys high school soccer game. Home team player dribbled into the box and before the defender could challenge he got a shot off on net that was saved by the keeper. Half a second after releasing the shot the defender slid in with a tackle and both players ended up on the ground. No-call on the field and play continued.

I am confident in the decision as it is a play I have been a part of (as a player and a ref) hundreds of times. The player got the shot on frame off and the slide tackle in my mind was an attempt to play the ball. It was a harder tackle but not reckless in my view. No call, no PK.

The home team coach made such a stink about it though so I thought I would pose the question here.

  • If this question was framed a little more generally, there could be an answer provided that would highlight the necessary considerations. As it stands, given this was a local-level match, it probably isn't notable enough to generate good answers in its current form. Sep 27, 2018 at 3:24
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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because it relates a specific officiating decision in a match that was not rare, controversial or notable in some other way. Sep 27, 2018 at 3:25

1 Answer 1


Since we didn't see that situation it is hard to form a good answer for it.

In general it is simple: if you would call a foul for same scene in the midfield you should call a foul in the box as well. A tackle or challenge does not need to be reckless or excessively forceful for a penalty kick - as with any other tackle or challenge, carelessness is enough.

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct, Section 1 - Direct Free Kick:

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • kicks or attempts to kick


  • tackles or challenges
  • trips or attempts to trip

If an offence involves contact it is penalised by a direct free kick or penalty kick.

Law 14 - The Penalty Kick, Introduction:

A penalty kick is awarded if a player commits a direct free kick offence inside their penalty area or off the field as part of play as outlined in Laws 12 and 13.

If a defender carelessly tackles an opponent (e.g. unfairly making contact with an opponent before the ball), a penalty kick should still be awarded unless the attacking team still has the possibility to score (advantage rule).

  • I disagree with the lack of qualification on the final paragraph sentence. What you've stated may generally be true, but is not always true. A tackle must be at least careless to result in direct free kick or penalty kick. For example, if an attacker and defender, side-by-side, both swing their leg at the ball and both legs collide, with neither touching the ball, this possibly wouldn't be considered a careless tackle by either player. Oct 1, 2018 at 5:33
  • @studro ofc simple challenges for the ball don't always result in a foul. I was speaking about a (sliding) tackle by the defender. There are always exceptions, even to explicit rules. Mentioning them all would be a very long answer. And I disagree with being careless as a must-have for a foul. A good tackle with bad timing is still a foul.
    – dly
    Oct 1, 2018 at 7:05
  • Unless it involves holding, a tackle must be at least careless for a foul to occur. See Law 12, Section 1: A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force... Oct 2, 2018 at 5:24
  • I'll have a go at editing in this distinction. Feel free to roll back the edit if you don't think it makes it any clearer. Oct 2, 2018 at 5:25
  • @studro it's fine. It's probably just matter of the point of view and a bad timed challenge or tackle always considered careless. You know the situation: you go for the ball and miss it and then hit the opponent. Might not look careless but it probably is by the rules.
    – dly
    Oct 2, 2018 at 6:10

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