By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.
Because there are many questions concerning a foul by a player against an opponent who is moving toward his/her offensive goal with an obvious goal scoring opportunity, this topic has been addressed in the past. However, a rules change that occurred in the recent 2013 NFHS Soccer Rules Committee meeting requires that this be addressed again.
New Rule 12-8-2-d2 states that: A player shall be disqualified for committing serious foul play that includes a foul by a player against an opponent who is moving toward his/her offensive goal with an obvious opportunity to score and the foul prevents a goal from being scored.
This rule indicates that the following must occur: 1. A foul which, of course, is an infraction for which a free kick is awarded. The foul could result in either a direct or indirect kick being awarded; 2. The player that is fouled must be moving toward his/her offensive goal (or moving forward) at the time of the foul; 3. The player that is fouled must have an obvious opportunity to score;and 4. The foul prevents a goal from being scored.
An obvious opportunity to score normally means that the player has control of the ball and has gotten past all defenders except the goalkeeper or all defenders including the goalkeeper. Please note that the player with the ball could have defenders closer to the offensive goal but who are too far to the side to prevent the player from scoring.
A player who fouls an opponent that meets the three criteria mentioned above is to be disqualified if a goal is not scored. New Rule 12-8-1f(14) indicates that it is unsporting conduct and a caution if a player commits a foul attempting to deny an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, and the goal is scored. Please note that this is similar to last year’s new rule 12-8-1f(13) where an intentional handball to stop a goal results in a player being cautioned rather than disqualified if a goal results.
Also, if the defender uses disproportionate and unnecessary force in fouling a player with an obvious opportunity to score, the defender would be disqualified even though the goal was scored because the disproportionate and unnecessary force would be considered serious foul play. (Rule 12-8-2d)
Please read Rule 12-8-2 Situation E in the 2013-14 rules book for examples that include the enforcement of the above rules.
Following the above rule and recommended procedures in every high school game you work and making certain your partners do the same will provide the required consistency and make each game a better experience for all participants.
Dr. Joe Manjone is the former chair of the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee.