Soccer Serious Foul Play

Soccer Serious Foul Play

Smooth build-ups, fancy skill moves, and continuous possession are all expressions of the beauty of the game in soccer. Any interruption, especially after a violent foul, impacts the spectacularity of the sport. Furthermore, an interruption of the game because of a serious foul play not only alters the pace and quality of the contest but, most importantly, represents a serious threat to the players’ safety.


A serious foul play in soccer is defined as any challenge or tackle that threatens the opponent’s safety. These plays represent the hardest types of fouls in a game, and they are one of the main causes of serious injuries. A player tackling an opponent with both legs or a goalkeeper tripping a player that is about to score are common examples of serious foul plays.

Players who frequently commit serious foul plays undermine the sportsmanship of soccer. A sport that is meant to foster values such as teamwork, fairness, and discipline does not allow any space for serious foul plays. Furthermore, if a player commits serious foul plays, the team will rapidly lose respect towards that player. Serious foul plays are, indeed, regularly sanctioned with a red card, which leaves the team a player down for the remainder of the game.

Serious foul plays are dangerous for the sport. Therefore, coaches should start educating their players about this topic at a young age. Learning how to play without using violence or constantly tackling can help young players learn how to play the right way and, most importantly, how to become better players. The ability to recover balls and play defense without having to rely on serious foul plays can easily aid players in competing at higher levels.


Most serious foul plays usually are sanctioned with a red card. While referees in lower series might be more tolerant due to the lack of quality of the games, serious foul plays are severely punished in the top professional leagues. The severity of the red card, which leaves the team a player down for the rest of the game, matches the potential threat to the safety created by endangering the opponent with a serious foul play.

Referee Signal

Soccer Serious Foul Play Referee Signal

Following the introduction of the Video Assistant Referee(VAR), referees have been forced to adapt their signals to the presence of this technological aid. This has also influenced calls on serious foul play. In most cases, the referee will blow the whistle and point to the spot of the foul. Subsequently, the referee will review the play thanks to the VAR, and when necessary, a red card will be shown to the player that committed the foul.


  • A player tackles an opponent with both legs, causing serious trauma to the player’s lower leg.
  • When a player takes down the opponent as the last man standing. This can occur by grabbing or tackling the opponent, who is running at full speed and is at a higher risk of a bad fall.
  • Any foul play that involves the use of elbows or punches. Jumping for a high ball with an extended elbow can lead to serious head injuries for the opponent.
  • A violent foul play committed by a goalkeeper can be considered serious foul play.

Similar Misconducts to Serious Foul Play

  • Violent Conduct
  • Denying an Obvious Goal-Scoring Opportunity
  • Unsporting Behaviour


What is a serious foul play in soccer?

Serious foul plays are tackles or violent fouls committed by any outfield player, or even by the goalkeeper. This type of play represents a constant worry for the opponents and a bad image for a game that does not tolerate unsportsmanlike or violent behavior. Serious foul plays can also affect the quality of a game if they constantly interrupt the build-up of the opponent’s momentum.

What are the consequences of a serious foul play in soccer?

Serious foul plays can be either unintentional or intentional. The presence of malice or intentionality can influence the referee’s punishment of the play. If the play is deemed intentional, the referee will automatically assign a red card. The lack of intentionality is the main factor that leads a referee to not assign a red card in the case of serious foul play. In this circumstance, referees may assess a yellow card or direct free kick. Intentionality can also lead to a greater amount of games of suspension.

What are some examples of serious foul play in soccer?

Serious foul plays are usually the result of factors such as frustration or lack of experience, which are worsened by the score or the game’s situation. Losing or being nervous can make players more prone to a violent one or two-legged slide tackle from behind, which are some of the worst types of serious foul play. Serious foul plays can also occur when a player elbows an opponent when jumping to head the ball or by a goalkeeper challenging an attacker while trying to avoid a goal.