FIFA’s Law 12 states simply:
The act of charging is a challenge for space using physical contact within playing distance of the ball without using arms or elbows.
It is an offence to charge an opponent:
- in a careless manner
- in a reckless manner
- using excessive force
Notice that the law makes no direct mention of making a play on the ball however, should a player charge an opponent with no obvious intention to gain the ball, it is likely that the referee will consider this careless or reckless.
Unofficially, it is widely recognised that a charge will be called if it is made to the back of the opponent rather than shoulder-to-shoulder.
It is important to understand this. I have seen more than one game decided when a foul was called because a player was called for a charge when engaging a player from behind.
One way to help your players understand this is using a clock. As you can see above, if the opponent is facing the 12 from the centre of the clock, contact coming from between 9 to 3 o’clock will likely be legal unless your player is blatantly running the opponent over. Players coming from between 8 to 9 and 3 to 4 o’clock usually will not be called for a foul unless blatantly running the opponent over. Players coming from between 4 to 8 o’clock normally will be called for fouls no matter what the circumstance.
Football is not — as many people believe — a non-contact sport. A certain amount of contact, including pushing, is allowed in the beautiful game. The difference between legal and illegal pushing is largely based on the referee’s discretion. Players should understand what kind of pushing is and is not allowed so that they can play physically without breaking the rules.
Pushing in Football is any contact where a player pushes into his opponent, whether it is with his hands, arms or body. Not all pushing is prohibited. Incidental pushing, minor bumps, and fair charges are permitted. The Laws of the Game state that it is only a foul if a player pushes another player in a manner that the referee believes is “careless, reckless or using excessive force.”
A player can push another player when trying to get the ball by making contact with the opponent without using his arms. Typically, a player will charge his opponent, hitting him shoulder-to-shoulder. Even if a player pushes his opponent over in a fair charge, it is not a penalty. However, if the player charges with excessive force, in the eyes of the referee, it can be considered a foul.
The first task of the assistant referee is to signal the ball out of play by raising the flag. The process is to raise the flag in the hand of which the next signal will be, for example, the right hand for attacking throw, foul. On a contested corner call the AR should raise the flag first to indicate the ball is out of play and then point to the corner.