Fouls in the box
April 10, 2012 7:17 AM   Subscribe

Soccer/Football refereeing question: When watching soccer games on television I often see an immense amount of clear fouls happening in the box when there are corner kicks being taken. Why don't referees blow these fouls more often?
posted by josher71 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
You can call a foul on almost every moment of play in every contact sport. It becomes a question of when that foul causes a clear advantage for one side over the other. For example - jockey for position before the kick - not going to be called a foul unless its something malicious - grabbing a guy to prevent him a clean strike of the ball - will usually be called/should be called.

Also even though the rules don't specify it usually the officials will take into account the severity of the penalty for a foul. Usually easier to get a foul called outside of the box because a free kick is seen as a much less certain goal than a penalty kick. Time matters as well - especially in something like basketball - if time is running out and a player makes a desperation drive towards the hoop or an off-balance three the foul has to be really egregious to be called.

I think general consensus is that neither players nor fans want to the officials to decide a game and as long as the decisions are made in a similar, consistent fashion on either end of the pitch then its fine.

Of course this can become an issue when you play in a league where one style of play is permitted and all of a sudden you find yourself in a situation where the officiating is different.
posted by JPD at 7:27 AM on April 10, 2012 [2 favorites]

Are you talking about before or after the ball is kicked? Prior to the ball being kicked, there is a lot of jostling for position, and since the ball is not in play yet, the tradition has been that no foul has been committed yet. If players are getting too physical, the ref will usually hold up the kick and talk to the players to separate before allowing the play to resume.

If the ball is in play, usually only fouls that affect players that are in a position to make a play are those that will be called, unless there is something significant. So, if a player is in a position to receive the ball and is fouled, then it will be called. If it is soaring high overhead and someone gets knocked down that didn't have a chance to get the ball, then it'll typically go uncalled. Although, if the offense fouls the defense, even if the ball is unplayable, a foul could be called because it could affect the defender's ability to react to a shot from outside.
posted by rich at 8:15 AM on April 10, 2012 [1 favorite]

There's been a lot of talk about this among Premier League commentators/play-by-play guys recently. It seems the refs have let this kind of thing just build and build over the past few years, and now everyone is grabbing shirts/arms/whatever. You'll see a ref occasionally stop play and lecture players who are being particularly "bad," but fouls are rarely called.
posted by kuanes at 8:26 AM on April 10, 2012

I could be wrong here but I belief that when the ball is dead (before the corner/free kick is taken) the referee cannot give a foul - a free kick or a penalty. He can give out cards at any time. So, even if one player punched another in the face while standing on the penalty spot waiting for a corner to be taken, all that would happen is for the offending player to be red carded and the corner taken as normal.
posted by neilb449 at 11:01 AM on April 10, 2012

If it doesn't affect play, then they'll generally ignore it. If it gets out of hand or escalates, then they'll take action. It's a much more intense, pressurized time of the game where you might have 18-20 people all pushing hard to get the ball so a little leeway is given.

A referee can give a foul or a card at anytime. If the foul occurs off the ball, the game is restarted with a dropped ball at the point the ball was when play was stopped. If the foul is committed while the ball is dead, play is usually allowed to restart as it normal would be unless it was a serious foul in which case the free kick or penalty may be awarded. The latter doesn't happen often. I can only think of specific times when a penalty was awarded during corners.

Josher17, it sounds like you already have a good grasp of the rules, but for others that are interested, The Laws of the Game are surprisingly easy to read.
posted by dantodd at 2:41 PM on April 10, 2012

Actually I think Neilb is correct - you can't commit a foul when the ball is dead. You can get a card which implies some sort of free kick, but even a card in the box does not result in a penalty kick if the ball is dead.

A penalty kick is awarded against a team that commits one of the ten offences for which a direct free kick is awarded, inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play.

Cite Here - pg 42
posted by JPD at 3:10 PM on April 10, 2012

I have only refed 13 year old soccer games . If it is happening a lot on both sides it gets to the point where you only do something if it effects the play . the game will never end if you have to stop the game every 2 min for a foul.

Unless its like a punch in the gut or soemthing then you definitely have to do something.
posted by majortom1981 at 3:44 PM on April 10, 2012

These are great answers. Thanks to all!
posted by josher71 at 7:44 AM on April 11, 2012

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