Professional and Tactical Fouls in Soccer

What is a Professional Foul? 

Most sports have what is known as a professional or tactical foul – these are deliberately committed fouls to gain a tactical advantage.

In soccer, a professional foul (or technical foul) is an act of unsporting behavior, where a player will commit a foul to prevent an opponent in the game from scoring, or used to deny an obvious opportunity to score a goal. 

Sometimes, a tactical foul will result in the dismissal of a player from the game, or may result in other disciplinary action against the offending team.

Professional And Tactical Fouls In Soccer

The term “professional foul” was first used by FIFA in 1970, when it introduced its new rules for the 1970 World Cup tournament. It was also adopted by UEFA in 1974.

The following are examples of professional fouls:

  • A goalkeeper deliberately kicking at a ball with his foot while he is offside
  • An attacking player deliberately tripping a defending player
  • A player deliberately handling the ball outside the penalty area
  • An attacking player intentionally throwing the ball into touch
  • A player deliberately preventing another player from taking a throw-in
  • A player deliberately holding up the ball during a free kick
  • A player deliberately blocking the path of a shot on goal
  • A player deliberately delaying restart of play after being cautioned 

Is a Professional Foul a Red Card?

Often, a professional foul is only a yellow card offense.

This means that they can continue playing, but they do not get sent off.

However, there are circumstances where the foul may warrant a red card. According to the FA’s Laws of the Game, the following can be red carded:

  • When a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by committing handball
  • Denying a goal scoring opportunity an offense that would warrant a free kick
  • Denying a goal scoring opportunity in the penalty box with no attempt to play the ball
  • When a player uses violence, excessive force, offensive or abusive language

What if I am Playing Football? Can I Commit a Professional Foul?

If you are playing football, then you shouldn’t commit a professional foul. You could end up getting expelled from the game and they are bad for the game and the sport in general.

Can I Play Football without Committing a Professional Foul?

Professional And Tactical Fouls In Soccer

Yes, you can and should play football without committing any professional fouls. However, if you commit a professional foul, you may be ejected from the game and will miss your next scheduled match.

How Do I Know Whether My Team Has Been Disciplined for a Professional Foul?

You can check whether your team has been disciplined for a professional foul using the official website of the governing body of soccer in your country.

What is a Tactical Foul? 

Tactical fouls are those committed by players who are trying to gain an advantage over their opponents.

Therefore, it is a form of professional fouling – but in particular, it refers to when a team loses a ball in the opponent’s half of the pitch, and then commits a foul to halt the play, rather than launching an above board counter attack. 

Is a Tactical Foul Cheating? 

Tactical fouls are sometimes called cheating because they are often committed by players who are trying to gain an unfair advantage over their opponents.

For example, a player might try to deceive referees by feigning injury so that they can stop play and take a quick free kick. Tactics like this are frowned upon by most people, and are usually punished by referees.

In addition, tactics such as these are illegal under the Laws of the Game. These laws state that no player shall use his hands to deliberately hinder or obstruct an opponent in the course of play.

However, it is important to note that a referee does not always need to punish a player who commits a tactical foul. It is up to their discretion – as oftentimes whether a tactical/professional foul has been committed is up to opinion.

Instead of carding a player, the referee can simply warn them about their actions. This warning would normally consist of a verbal reminder to the player that their actions were unacceptable.

Are Tactical Fouls Allowed?

Professional And Tactical Fouls In Soccer

The rules of soccer allow for tactical fouls to be committed, as there is no set rule to prevent tactical fouls from being committed.

The only rule which prohibits these types of fouls is Rule 69: No player may use his hands to deliberately impede another player in the execution of any act during the progress of the game.

Though they are not illegal, they are generally frowned upon by managers and teams, especially if they have been on the receiving end of a tactical foul. 

That being said, referees do give out cards or penalties for tactical fouls. Tactical fouls are actually the reason behind most penalties awarded in soccer matches.

If a player commits a tactical foul that the referee believes is out of line, then they may receive a yellow card. A yellow card means that the player can stay on the field, but warns them about their misconduct. 

What does DOGSO mean in soccer?

In soccer, a DOGSO is essentially a professional or tactical foul. It is an acronym that stands for ‘Denial of an Obvious Goal Scoring Opportunity’. 

In the past this was an automatic red card offense. But that rule was relaxed slightly in 2016. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) stated that accidental fouls that prevented a goal scoring opportunity would only be cautioned. This is for cases where the player is actually trying to play the ball. But deliberate fouls to deny the opportunity are still red card offenses.

Some Famous Tactical Fouls in Football

The one that started it all was in the 1980 FA Cup Final between Arsenal and West Ham. Arsenal’s Willie Young deliberately fouled Paul Allen to prevent his clear opportunity at a goal. Under the rules at that time, he could not be sent off, but only cautioned, and West Ham won a free kick. But this was the foul that led to such fouls becoming a possible red card.

Maradona Vs England (1986)

Maradona’s infamous “Hand of God” goal was also a result of a tactical foul. In the 1986 World Cup quarter finals against England, he scored Argentina’s first goal by hitting the ball with his hand instead of his head. Argentina went on to win 2-1.

What Has Been Said About Tactical Fouling?

Throughout history, there have been many opinions on whether tactical fouling should be allowed in football. Some people believe that tactical fouling should not be allowed because it takes away from the game’s integrity.

Others feel that tactical fouling is necessary in order to keep the game fair.

There has never been any official rule on whether tactical fouling is allowed or not. However, FIFA’s stance as an organization still remains a little nebulous – though we can assume they are generally against the practice of tactically or professionally fouling.

Final Thoughts 

In summary, tactical fouls are considered a type of professional foul, but they are also used to describe a specific kind of foul.

They are referred to as “tactical” because they are performed with the intent to gain an advantage over one’s opponent, especially after your team has lost the ball in the other team’s half.

A professional foul is a similar thing – but the term is used more broadly, and refers to any foul that hinders the opposing team’s ability to win the match.