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The Charging Rule In Soccer Made Easy

The Charging Rule Made Simple

FIFA’s Law 12 states simply:

The act of charging is a challenge for space using physical contact within playing distance of the ball without using arms or elbows. It is an offence to charge an opponent:
• in a careless manner
• in a reckless manner
• using excessive force

Notice that the rule makes no direct mention of making a play on the ball, however should a player charge an opponent with no obvious intention to gain the ball, it is likely that the referee will consider this careless or reckless.

Unofficially, however, it is widely recognized that a charge will be called if it is made to the back of the opponent rather than shoulder-to-shoulder.

It is important to understand this. I have seen more than one game decided when a foul was called because a player was called for a charge for engaging a player from behind.

Understanding the angles for charging

One way to help your players understand this is using a clock. As you can see above, if the opponent is facing the 12 from the center of the clock, contact coming from between 9 to 3 o’clock will likely be legal unless your player is blatantly running the opponent over; players coming from between 8 to 9 and 3 to 4 o’clock usually will not be called for a foul unless blatantly running the opponent over; and players coming from between 4 to 8 o’clock normally will be called for fouls no matter what the circumstance.

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