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According to the Wikipedia article on tackling, tackling with both legs is illegal.

However, this tackle by Sol Campbell is clearly made with both legs, and it didn't appear to be called nor appealed for by any of the players, nor discussed by any of the commentators.

Is tackling with both legs in itself illegal, or does the tackle need to be careless, reckless, or excessively forceful before it is deemed to be a foul?

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The FIFA Rules of the game don't actively say anything about two-legged tackles. Tackles, in fact, are only mentioned twice in the rulebook.

First mention (Page 36, Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct):

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

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges at an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent
  • tackles an opponent

Second mention (Page 126, Interpretation of the Laws of the Game, Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct):

A tackle that endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Serious foul play is a sending-off (i.e. red card) offence.

As the wikipedia article says (at least now, Fillet's seems to say it was recently updated), a two-footed tackle is only penalized if it is careless, reckless or made with excessive force - the same language in the first rulebook citation above.

So a two-footed tackle itself is not illegal. It's only illegal if it is careless, reckless or made with excessive force. The reason why two-footed tackles are often punished is because they are more likely to be careless/reckless. The big danger is that you catch the other player's feet/ankles between your legs, which can easily lead to a sprain, twisted ankle, or (less easily, but most dangerous) broken ankle. For this reason, many players will tuck back one of their legs when attempting a slide tackle - both for a cleaner tackle and for the safety of the other player.

FIFA's Laws of the Game is linked below.

One note is that amateur leagues will play by mostly FIFA rules, but with some significant modifications. In some, slide tackles are not allowed at all. In others, two-legged tackles may be illegal. As pointed out in the comments, these are likely not true association football, as these are not standard rule modifications allowed by FIFA (without prior approval). However, many of these leagues are non-competitive anyway.

http://www.fifa.com/mm/document/footballdevelopment/refereeing/02/36/01/11/27_06_2014_new--lawsofthegameweben_neutral.pdf

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    I would stop playing immediately if they no longer allowed sliding tackles :D – Don_Biglia Apr 21 '15 at 13:38
  • Heh, well rec leagues are rec leagues :) – Duncan Apr 21 '15 at 15:20
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    I think this answer seems most correct. The last paragraph is probably a bit unnecessary. I would argue that these amateur/recreational matches aren't really association football as they're not played under FIFA's laws. Page 3 of the 2014/14 FIFA Laws of the Game list permissible modifications to the Laws, and modifications to fouls and misconduct are not in that list. – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Apr 22 '15 at 1:04
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    An excellent point re: amateur/rec leagues. I included the last paragraph because it may address why some people think that two-footed tackles are illegal. I will add more explanation, though. – Duncan Apr 22 '15 at 4:16
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The tackle you provide is not a two-legged tackle.

He tackles with his right foot/leg and his left leg just "is there". When you tackle you can't leave one leg behind can you?

This is just a clean tackle and good executed. Clearly goes for the ball, plays the ball and does not harm the attacker.

So yes, two-legged tackles are illegal, but their will be always to legs present. Reason for a two-legged being illegal (besides being potentially harmfull for the opponent) is because it's difficult to go clean for the ball that way. The way Campbell tackles he has full, or as much as can while tackling, control over the ball. When you tackle with two legs it's a frontal attack on the ball rather and there's little control over what you can do with the ball.

I'm at work now, but I'll add in some two-legged tackles to show the difference. Marcelo's scissor tackle, you see the second leg joining rather actively

I'm looking for some better examples, but hard to find apparantley

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  • I have some problems with this answer. Both legs are used to tackle in the example provided - they're both extended towards the ball. To challenge the second paragraph of the answer, It is perfectly possible to tackle with one leg, either by staying on your feet or only extending one leg when sliding: two examples of tackling with one leg on Gareth Bale one and two. – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Apr 20 '15 at 10:29
  • In response to the third paragraph, the question didn't ask about tackles made with both legs directed straight at an opponent. It was about tackles made with both legs in general. – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Apr 20 '15 at 10:30
  • That was not what I wanted to say, but tbh it's a bit unclear, I was talking about a tackle at/towards the ball. But in general,whatever way the defender is coming at the attacker, it will most likely be too dangerous. – Don_Biglia Apr 20 '15 at 11:47
  • We are discussing sliding tackles here rather than standing tackles. And Cambell is still not using two legs actively. The two-leg illegal tackle is not directed at that sort of tackles. – Don_Biglia Apr 20 '15 at 19:50
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The simplest way to put this would be, Two 'Legged' tackles are not illegal... However two 'Footed' tackles are a bookable offence... Studs up is a very harmful tackle the legs can touch if contact is made with the ball first. However if a player is brought down with a two footed tackle its bookable regardless of whether he got the ball or not as it is careless and dangerous.

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  • I have some problems with this answer. The first is that there is no reference. If two footed tackles are illegal, this should be verifiable in the Laws of the Game, or official guidance from FIFA. The second is the assertion that a "careless" tackle is bookable - on page 117 of the 2014/15 FIFA Laws of the Game, it says that "No further disciplinary sanction is needed if a foul is judged to be careless." – Reinstate Monica 2331977 Apr 22 '15 at 1:00
  • I am talking from purely experience of watching football. Two footed tackles are commented on as dangerous/careless and 90% of the time are booked in the instances. This is not referencing any rules. the rules can not be specific on dangerous tackles as it usually comes down to the circumstance. Such as if injury is sustained due to the careless tackle. – ThunderToes Apr 22 '15 at 11:08

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