Dangerous Challenges

One of the first things referees should be looking at when there are challenges on the ground are the feet of the player challenging. There are some indications that should raise awareness in these types of challenges.

  1. DISTANCE where the challenging player comes. Is that player coming from a longer distance or is the distance relatively short? How can one tell? Which brings me to number 2
  2. SPEED. The further away from the ball speed is more likely. Therefore referees need to have an “open” vision of the play and not have tunnel vision. Referees should also have their bodies open to the challenge s they can get a better view.
  3. CONTACT. Where is the contact made by the challenging player? Does that player come in high? Does the player come in with an open boot, cleats exposed? Something else referees need to be aware of is the non-challenging leg. The follow through of that non-challenging leg can prove to be very dangerous and cause injury.
  4. POOR TOUCH. If a player has a poor touch on the ball, meaning that they no longer have control, this also should raise the awareness of the referee. Since the ball now becomes a 50/50 ball, there is a stronger chance of a dangerous challenge.
  5. FORCE. What type of force does the challenging player have?


In the clip, you can see that the player in white has a poor touch which creates the situation into a 50/50 ball—anyone’s ball. Once she loses the clear possession, she continues to chase the ball which she has no longer control of. The ball now becomes more in possession of #7 in red who knows she is being challenged and passes the ball off. The player in white does not stop, goes into the challenge, not getting the ball and “sweeps” her leg into the planted leg of #7 red. This is extremely dangerous as this can cause serious injury.

So, if we look at the criteria above and analyze the clip, we can say:

  1. There is not much distance
  2. There is speed
  3. There definitely is contact
  4. There is a poor touch
  5. And she comes in with force

The correct decision by the referee should show the yellow card for unsporting behavior and if the player already has a caution, she must be shown the red card and sent off.