Football Fair Catch Interference Penalty

Football Fair Catch Interference Penalty

A fair catch interference penalty is when a member of the kicking team disrupts the receiver of the kick after they signal for a fair catch. This distraction may result in the receiver dropping the ball, or not being able to catch the ball at all. The result of this penalty is 15 yards against the kicking team. It is enforced from where the receiver signaled for the fair catch.


Definition

Fair catch interference can only be called during a kick, whether that be a kick off or punt. This foul can only be committed by the kicking team, and it occurs when the receiver is not allowed to catch the kick properly due to contact with a player from the kicking team.

This foul can happen a couple of ways. The most common way is for a member of the kicking team to either tackle or contact the receiver before the ball reaches them. The penalty will not be called if a teammate of the receiver accidentally creates contact with them. It will be called in the event that a member of the kicking team pushes a teammate of the receiver into them, creating deliberate contact.

A variation of this penalty can also be called even if the receiver has not made a fair catch signal. Members of the kicking team in this instance may not interfere with the receiver in any way while the ball is in the air, even blocking the path to the ball is prohibited.

This penalty focuses on reducing unnecessary injuries among players attempting to receive kicks. Since the receiver is in a stopped position, major injury can occur when a member of the kicking team collides with them at full speed. The receiver of the kick is often labeled as defenseless as they are paying attention to the ball, not the kicking team.

Result

The result of a fair catch interference penalty is 15 yards. The penalty is enforced at the spot where the receiver made the fair catch signal. Even if the ball is dropped or not caught at all, the call will be enforced where the receiver made the signal.

PenaltyNFLNCAAHigh SchoolCFLAFL
Fair Catch InterferenceLoss of Ball, 15 Yards15 Yards15 YardsN/AN/A

Penalty Signal

football Penalty Signal

The signal for a fair catch interference is the same as a pass interference call. The arms are to be extended out with the hands facing upwards. The official will also point to the side of the offending team with an outstretched arm.

Examples

  • If a player from the kicking team contacts the receiver after a signal was made.
  • If a player on the kicking team pushes a teammate of the receiver into them.
  • If a member of the kicking team blocks the path of the receiver trying to catch the ball.