Soccer Striking an Opponent Foul

Soccer Striking an Opponent Foul

In soccer, striking an opponent is a foul that is committed when a player makes physical contact or attempts physical contact with an opponent by throwing a projectile or using a body part other than their foot. Striking an opponent is a physical foul that is typically punished by a direct free kick.


Definition

Striking an opponent is a foul in soccer that occurs when a player makes physical contact or attempts to make physical contact with an opponent, using a part of their body besides their foot. While contact naturally occurs throughout the game, it must be controlled and with the intent of playing the ball. Striking an opponent is a foul that applies to most types of illegal contact between players that are not considered kicking or holding (these actions have their own fouls).

Actions considered striking an opponent include hitting, slapping, elbowing, head-butting, kneeing, and bumping. Hitting an opponent with a thrown ball, rock, or other object is also grounds for assessing a striking an opponent foul. Although striking an opponent usually involves physical contact, it is not required for this foul to be called; attempting but failing to strike an opponent will also result in a foul being called. Striking an opponent can be called at any point on the field, regardless of possession or location of the ball. Incidental contact that has no effect on play is not considered a striking an opponent foul.

A striking an opponent foul is punished by a direct free kick being awarded to the non-offending team if the foul is committed in a careless manner. A referee will caution a player and show a yellow card if they determine the foul has been committed in a reckless manner. If a referee determines the foul has been committed using excessive force, the offender will be shown a red card and ejected from the match.

Result

The result of a striking an opponent foul being called is a direct free kick being awarded to the non-offending team. The team against whom the foul was committed is permitted to kick the ball from the spot of the foul, with the potential to score a goal. The result of a striking an opponent foul is consistent throughout amateur and professional leagues, as the International Football Association Board (IFAB) sets the rules followed at all levels of soccer.

Referee Signal

soccer striking an opponent foul referee signal

A referee will whistle to stop play when a striking an opponent foul is called. Then the referee will extend one arm horizontally away from their body to signal a direct free kick. Play will not be immediately stopped if the defending team commits the foul while the attacking team possesses the ball past midfield. In this case, the referee will signal advantage and allow play to continue until a change of possession or out-of-bounds occurs.

Examples

  • One player is running down the field in control of the ball. An opponent, running alongside, makes a play for the ball but swings their arm wildly, elbowing the player in the face.
  • As a player is jumping to head a ball, an opponent on the ground head-butts them.
  • Away from the ball, a player drives their knee into an opponent’s leg, attempting to knock them off their path.
  • After a disagreement, a player attempts to punch an opponent but misses.

Similar Fouls to Striking an Opponent

  • Jumping at an Opponent
  • Tripping
  • Charging
  • Pushing
  • Kicking

FAQ

What is striking an opponent in soccer?

Striking an opponent in soccer is a foul that is committed when one player physically contacts or attempts to contact an opponent with a part of their body other than their foot. Soccer players are not allowed to initiate physical contact, except for incidental contact due to momentum while playing the ball. Hitting, elbowing, head-butting, kneeing, and bumping are types of motions that are considered striking an opponent. Throwing a ball or other object at an opponent also counts as striking an opponent.

What are the consequences of striking an opponent in soccer?

The consequences of striking an opponent in soccer are having a direct free kick awarded to the opposing team, as well as potentially being cautioned or ejected from the match. The direct free kick allows your opponent to kick unopposed from the location of the foul, giving them a goal-scoring opportunity. Committing this foul in a reckless manner or with excessive force brings the harsher consequences of a yellow or red card, which equates to being cautioned or ejected.

Can you receive a red card for striking an opponent in soccer?

Yes, you can receive a red card for striking an opponent in soccer. The typical punishment for committing a striking foul is a direct free kick being awarded to your opponent, as it is a physical foul involving contact. However, if the referee determines that the foul was committed using excessive force, you will receive a red card and be sent off.