Soccer Impeding the Progress of an Opponent Foul

Soccer Impeding the Progress of an Opponent Foul

Impeding the progress of an opponent is a foul in soccer that is committed when one player uses their body to block the free movement of an opponent while away from the ball. This foul results in a free kick, the type of which depends on whether or not physical contact is made.


Definition

Impeding the progress of an opponent is a foul in soccer that occurs when one player uses their body as an obstacle to prevent the movement of an opponent when the ball is not within playing distance of either player. In soccer, players are not allowed to directly block their opponents unless in close proximity to the ball; once a player has started moving along a path, they must be allowed to continue in that direction. If an opponent makes a move that places their body in the path of an already moving player, preventing them from continuing in their desired direction, an impeding the progress of an opponent foul has occurred.

A player may be called for impeding an opponent regardless of whether they physically touch that opponent. However, the foul will be announced and punished differently depending on whether physical contact is made while committing the foul. If contact is made, the foul will be announced as impeding an opponent with contact, and it will be punished by a direct free kick. If no contact is made, the foul will be announced as impeding the progress of an opponent without any contact being made, and it will be punished by an indirect free kick.

Impeding an opponent does not apply to players who are within playing distance of the ball, even if they are not attempting to play it. This exemption allows a player to use their body to block or shield an opponent from making a play, as long as that player is near enough to the ball that they could play it if they chose.

Result

The result of an impeding an opponent foul being called is a free kick being awarded to the non-offending team. If physical contact occurs between the players during the commission of the foul, it will be a direct free kick. An indirect free kick will be awarded if no contact is made. This result is the same in every league, ranging from amateur to professionals, as the IFAB dictates the rules followed at all levels of soccer.

Referee Signal

Soccer Impeding the Progress of an Opponent Foul Referee Signal

When an impeding the progress of an opponent foul is called, a referee will immediately blow their whistle to stop play unless the referee signals advantage. If the foul is committed without physical contact, the referee will point straight up with one arm raised above their head to signal an indirect free kick. If the foul is committed with physical contact, the referee will point with one arm extended horizontally to the side to signal a direct free kick.

Examples

  • A player is running to receive a pass. An opponent intercepts the player, throwing their body directly between the player and the path of the ball. The player stops to avoid a collision.
  • As a player is running, an opponent runs up and blocks them with an outstretched arm, touching their shoulder.
  • The ball is about to roll out of bounds. Within playing distance of the ball, a player uses their body to shield an opponent from playing it but does not attempt to play the ball themself. No foul has occurred.

Similar Fouls to Impeding

  • Holding
  • Charging
  • Jumping at an Opponent
  • Striking an Opponent
  • Dissent

FAQ

What is impeding in soccer?

Impeding in soccer is any action that delays, blocks, or prevents the progress or movement of an opponent. The foul typically takes the form of a player running or placing their body directly in front of a moving opponent, so they must change course or risk a collision. In some cases impeding breaks the rules, particularly when a player is not within playing distance of the ball. Impeding can occur regardless of whether a player physically contacts an opponent, as long as movement is restricted.

What are the consequences of impeding the progress of an opponent in soccer?

The consequences of impeding the progress of an opponent in soccer are a loss of possession and having a free kick awarded to your opponent. If physical contact was made while committing the foul, a direct free kick will be awarded. You could also be cautioned or ejected if the referee determines you committed the foul recklessly or with excessive force. If the foul is committed without contact, an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opponent.

What is the difference between impeding and shielding?

The difference between impeding and shielding is that impeding is a foul which occurs outside of playing distance of the ball, whereas shielding is permitted and occurs within playing distance of the ball. Both impeding and shielding involve a player using their body to prevent an opponent from moving along their desired path, potentially denying them an opportunity to play the ball. However, this action is only permitted within playing distance of the ball (called shielding) and is a punishable offense outside of playing distance (an impeding foul).