The ATR contains two references to verbal distractions of an opponent.
ATR 11.4 provides that verbal distraction of a keeper is "interfering with
an opponent" for purpose of Offside.
ATR 12.28.1 provides that verbal distraction of an opponent is unsporting
Note that with respect to Impeding, the verb used in 12.14 (impeding) is
"MOVING" on the field to obstruct, . . . . In our example, only the lips
From: Jim Mantle [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 10:55 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: oral impeding
I can't find the ATR on the USSF website, so I went to Jimmy Mac's Ask a
Referee, found this from the ATR:
"12.14 IMPEDING AN OPPONENT
"Impeding the progress of an opponent" means moving on the field so as to
obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an opponent. Impeding can
include crossing directly in front of the opponent or running between him
and the ball so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying his advance.
There will be many occasions during a game when a player will come between
an opponent and the ball, but in the majority of such instances, this is
quite natural and fair. It is often possible for a player not playing the
ball to be in the path of an opponent and still not be guilty of impeding.
The offense requires that the ball not be within playing distance or not
capable of being played, and physical contact between the player and the
opponent is normally absent. If physical contact occurs, the referee should,
depending on the circumstances, consider instead the possibility that a
charging infringement has been committed (direct free kick) or that the
opponent has been fairly charged off the ball (indirect free kick). However,
nonviolent physical contact may occur while impeding the progress of an
opponent if, in the opinion of the referee, this contact was an unavoidable
consequence of the impeding (due, for example, to momentum). "
Note the first line: "obstruct, interfere with, or block the path of an
Play: GK punts the ball, ball is coming down near midfield. A red player has
eyes heavenward, watching the path of the ball, judging where to stand so he
can receive and control it. A blue player, standing a few yards behind red,
surveys the entire scene and calls out to the red player "let it through".
Red is deceived and does exactly that - decides to not play the ball, and
follow the verbal advice of the unseen player behind him".
Sounds to me like Red has been "interfered with". Though not in the physical
sense. Should blue's action be disregarded by the referee? Is blue's action
worthy of a caution for USB? I would answer "no" - this type of verbal
deception isn't part of soccer, and should not be allowed to be part of the
game. and "no" - it doesn't rise to the level of a caution - it's hardly
An IDFK, sanctioning blue's deceptive verbal instruction, sends a balanced
message - that's an unproductive tactic, don't do it.
Player's around here all call out "Jim's ball", or "Sue's ball", or
whatever..... never "mine".
----- Original Message -----
From: "Wickham, Dennis" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 1:40 PM
Subject: Re: oral impeding
> Aren't most examples an attempt to confuse the opponent rather than impede
> Impeding under Law 12 is an act of doing some that "impedes the PROGRESS
> a player" (emphasis added.) While some statements could have this
> (e.g. defender stops running toward the ball), it seems to me the act is
> still improper even if it doesn't affect the opponent's progress (e.g. the
> statements cause the opponent to pass the ball).
> An advantage to considering impeding, is that one will focus how the
> statement's affected the opponent rather than one's own reaction to the
> unsporting behavior. While we all may have different attitudes toward the
> conduct, standing (or shouting) alone, we all can notice when it affects
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Jim Mantle [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 9:28 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: Re: oral impeding
> "Verbal obstruction" is a common call - the most frequent example being a
> player who calls "mine" or "let it through" - and an opponent (who has his
> back to the talker) lets the ball pass through to the talker.
> It's pretty draconian to card the talker for USB. And the effect would be
> different than if a team-mate of the talker deliberately ran to a spot
> the opponent would be obstructed from getting to the ball - setting a
> So we call it as impeding - except that it is of the verbal, not physical,
> variety. Not that the LOTG do not define impeding as being a physical act
> [don't know if the ATR restricts impeding to a physical act - but the rest
> of the world doesn't require that impeding be physical].
> The point is: Yelling at an opponent, or even quietly saying something
> compelling yet confusing, isn't soccer. It needs a sanction of some sort.
> Story: My daughter's U12 rec game last summer. I brought a lawn chair, I
> drafted to work a line. One girl shrieked every time she got the ball - it
> didn't matter who was nearby (or if nobody was nearby) - she shrieked.
> It was painful to listen to on the sideline. It was affecting the
> After the second or third time the referee stopped the game and had a talk
> with her, then restarted with a drop ball. I found out at the half that
> CR told her "stop it, or I will caution you for USB". Aside from breaking
> the rule that one should never threaten the players ("if you do this, then
> will do that"), I suggested that USB was improper - give a few IFK's for
> impeding, and if that doesn't change the situation after 2-3-4 times,
> caution for PI. It was an ah-ha moment for the CR.
> I heard about it on the car ride home - my daughter said "that ref was
> really nasty - she threatened to yellow card Jessica".
> ----- Original Message -----
> From: "Ferenc & Sandy Korompai" <[log in to unmask]>
> To: <[log in to unmask]>
> Sent: Tuesday, November 26, 2002 11:36 AM
> Subject: oral impeding
> Re: shouting (screeching) to distract. Escalating verbal admonishment of
> individuals during a game may not get past the "naughty, naughty" stage
> before full-time of a match thus brought into disrepute. At the same time
> definitive sanction (caution/IFK) seems too harsh at first, though
> definitely effective. (get their attention with a sledge hammer)
> I hear/?read that in England some referees classify distracting shouting
> foul ("verbal obstruction") rather than misconduct.
> I like the idea of decriminalisation(sic), while stamping out the
> Does anyone have information or experience in this matter?
> Ferenc Korompai
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