Professional foul

In sports, a professional foul is a deliberate act of foul play, usually to prevent an opponent's scoring.


Association football

The concept gained notoriety in association football after an infamous incident in the 1980 FA Cup Final when Willie Young of Arsenal committed a deliberate foul on Paul Allen of West Ham, when Allen had a clear run at goal. As the laws of the game stood, the referee (George Courtney) could only award West Ham a free kick, which he did. This provoked a national debate on deliberate fouls that denied opponents the chance to score a goal. At the time, the English game was suffering a downturn in attendances and the chairmen of the Football League clubs decided to consider ways in which the game could be made exciting. A subcommittee was appointed to produce some suggestions, chaired by Jimmy Hill and including Matt Busby and Bobby Charlton.

The sub-committee produced several suggestions, including making the professional foul a mandatory red card offence, which they submitted to the IFAB for consideration. All the suggestions were defeated. However, the Football League was determined to have their way, and instructed its referees that professional fouls (including deliberate handball to stop a goal being scored) should be deemed serious foul play, which was and is a mandatory red card offence. The new interpretation was first issued to referees prior to the 1982-83 season, and one of the first players to be sent off for a professional foul was Lawrie Sanchez in the Football League Trophy.[citation needed]

FIFA first instructed its referees to send off for a professional foul prior to the 1990 World Cup, and in 1991 IFAB added decisions to the law which provided that a player who committed a foul or handling offence that denied an obvious goal-scoring opportunity should be sent off for serious foul play. These decisions were incorporated in the laws in 1997.

Currently, if a player denies a player an obvious goalscoring opportunity by foul means, whether deliberate or not, he is almost certain to be sent off.[1] Also if the foul occurs in the penalty area, the referee will award a penalty.

A notable example of such a foul was the 1998 tackle by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, playing for Manchester United at Old Trafford, who ran from within the Newcastle penalty area almost the length of the pitch to run down and trip Newcastle United's Rob Lee - with a clear goalscoring opportunity one on one with United goalkeeper Raimond van der Gouw. Solskjaer was immediately sent off by referee Uriah Rennie (with the match finishing 1-1 and prolonging the Premier League title race with Arsenal).[2][3]

Another controversial situation occurred during the 2010 FIFA World Cup quarter-final between Uruguay and Ghana. In extra time with the match tied 1-1, Uruguay's Luis Suárez committed a deliberate goal line handball save from Ghana's Dominic Adiyiah in the last minute of the second extra time period. As per the laws of the game, the referee issued Suárez a straight red card and awarded a penalty kick to Ghana, but Asamoah Gyan missed on the penalty kick, leaving the game level at the final whistle.[4] Uruguay went on to win 4-2 in the shootout, and Suárez' teammates carried him around the pitch as a hero. Suárez afterward said that "The 'Hand of God' now belongs to me. Mine is the real 'Hand Of God'. I made the best save of the tournament". He was banned for the next match, although some have argued for and against lengthening the suspension.[5][6] Ghana's John Pantsil argued that the referee should have allowed the goal to stand instead of pointing to the spot.[7][8] While not technically an example of a professional foul, this deliberate denial of a goal scoring opportunity by handball typifies the willingness of players to take measures some consider unsporting to win games in elite competitions.

Rugby league

The professional foul in rugby league embodies a similar concept, a deliberate breach of the rules in order to prevent a scoring opportunity. The penalty for this offence is 10 minutes in the sin bin.

The majority of professional fouls are either holding down the tackled player after a break has been made in order to allow his teammates to reform in defence, interfering in the play when making little or no attempt to return to an onside position, or tackling or impeding the progress of a player not in possession when a try may possibly be scored. The latter situation may result in a penalty try.

See also: Playing rugby league

Rugby union

Referees are instructed to sanction professional fouls with a yellow card, resulting in the player spending ten minutes in the sin bin.

See also


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • professional foul — UK US noun [countable] [singular professional foul plural professional fouls] in football, an action in which a player deliberately does something that is not allowed by the rules in order to stop the other team from getting an advantage… …   Useful english dictionary

  • professional foul — professional fouls N COUNT In soccer, if a player commits a professional foul, they deliberately do something which is against the rules in order to prevent another player from scoring a goal …   English dictionary

  • Professional Foul — infobox Book | name = Professional Foul title orig = translator = author = Tom Stoppard cover artist = country = United Kingdom language = English series = genre = Play publisher = Faber and Faber release date = 1977 media type = Print… …   Wikipedia

  • professional foul — UK / US noun [countable] Word forms professional foul : singular professional foul plural professional fouls in football, an action in which a player deliberately does something that is not allowed by the rules in order to stop the other team… …   English dictionary

  • professional foul — pro.fessional foul n in football, if someone commits a professional foul, they deliberately do something that is against the rules in order to prevent another player from scoring …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • professional foul — noun An intentional foul, usually committed to prevent an opponent scoring, and punishable by a yellow or red card (football) or 10 minutes in the sin bin (rugby) …   Wiktionary

  • professional foul — pro,fessional foul noun count in soccer, an action in which a player deliberately does something that is not allowed by the rules in order to stop the other team from getting an advantage …   Usage of the words and phrases in modern English

  • professional foul — noun Brit. (especially in soccer) a deliberate foul committed to prevent an opponent from scoring …   English new terms dictionary

  • professional foul — /prəfɛʃnəl ˈfaʊl/ (say pruhfeshnuhl fowl) noun Sport a deliberate infringement committed in order to prevent a goal being scored by the opposing team …   Australian English dictionary

  • Foul — may refer to:*Foul (sports), an unfair or illegal sports act, including: **Foul (football), in football (soccer), an unfair act by a player as deemed by the referee **Professional foul, in football (soccer) or rugby, a deliberate act of foul play …   Wikipedia

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