While most acts on a soccer field are fouls only by degree, a few acts, however, are deemed fouls whenever they take place?regardless of how or why they occur. One such act occurs through the clumsy use of the feet during an attempt to win it away from the other side. A ?tackle? occurs when one player takes the ball away from the other by using the feet. A ?foul tackle? occurs when that player tackles the opponent, rather than the ball.
Tackling the opponent instead of the ball
Soccer involves a struggle for the ball, and an attempt by both teams to put it into the other team?s goal. As a result, players are constantly challenging each other for custody, and using their heads, feet, and bodies to win it. One of the quickest, and most direct ways for a player to take it away from an opposing player will be to tackle for possession with his feet.
Since cleats are hard, and the ball is soft and filled with air, the ball acts as a natural cushion during these contests. This, in turn, helps keep everyone safe and uninjured. As a result, ?fair tackles? are those in which a player contacts the ball first, before making any contact with the opponent. By contrast, a tackle which first makes contact with the opponent before touching the ball can wreak havoc various parts of the opposing player?s body?including the feet, the shins, the ankles, the calves, and anyplace that is within range of a misplaced foot. Doing so rsults in a a foul tackle, which is punished by a direct free kick.
Though a common excuse among players is that they ?got the ball,? the mere fact that they did, in fact, contact the ball first does not end the matter. While perhaps not a ?tackling? foul, tackles committed carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force may still constitute the separate fouls of kicking, tripping, charging, or striking.
Jeffrey Caminsky, a veteran public prosecutor in Michigan, specializes in the appellate practice of criminal law and writes on a wide range of topics. Both his science fiction adventure novel The Star Dancers, the first volume in the Guardians of Peace (tm) science fiction adventure series, and The Referee?s Survival Guide, a book on soccer officiating, are published by New Alexandria Press, http://www.newalexandriapress.com.