Is An Obstruction ALWAYS A Foul In Football?

Football is a contact sport. In order to keep possession of the ball, a player can use many different methods to do so.

One of those methods is using his or her body to “shield” the ball and prevent the opponent from getting to it. This shielding is also called obstruction.

While this sounds fairly simple, there are many ways to do it and some may result in a foul while others may not

In this article, you will learn what the laws of the game say about obstruction fouls. And also learn whether an obstruction is always sanctioned

Is an obstruction always a foul?

This type of behaviour is not only present in football, but in basketball too. It can be seen when two players are trying to get a rebound. 

In this situation, the player closer to the ball may try to put his body between the ball and the opponent. This is done to impede or slow down the other player’s movement and secure possession of the ball.

Now, the most important question is when is this method legal and how it can and cannot be done. And what’s a better place to learn about that than the official laws of the game? 

Law 12 of the Laws of the Game states that: 

All players have a right to their position on the field of play; 

being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.

A player may shield the ball by taking a position between an opponent and the ball if the ball is within playing distance and the opponent is not held off with the arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.

Simply put, obstruction is when you stop with the intention of slowing down the opponent. This usually happens when both players are not within playing distance with the ball. So, this behaviour almost always results in a foul

On the other hand, you may bewithin playing distance of the ball, which doesn’t necessarily mean touching it. This way, you can freely use an obstruction while trying to plan your next move.

And, of course, using your arms to pull the opponent’s shirt, for example, is forbidden

To help you understand this, let’s check some examples where an obstruction resulted in a foul

#1 Finland vs Armenia 

Here is an example from a Euro 2020 Qualifiers match between Finland and Armenia. The Armenian captain was fouled by Finland’s right-back. This was a clear obstruction foul because the Finnish player intentionally placed himself in front of his opponent. He stopped his movement by doing so.

#2 Besiktas vs Manchester United 

In this match between Manchester United and Besiktas, Evra was fouled by two of Besiktas’ defenders. The defenders moved in front of Evra, who was running with the ball forward, and halted his further progress. 

#3 Mexico vs New Zealand 

Another example of clear obstruction foul. New Zealand’s player had no intentions of playing the ball whatsoever. He ran with the single purpose of stopping Mexico’s counterattack. He succeeded but was also sanctioned with a yellow card. 

You can find out whether shirt pulling is considered as a foul here.

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