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Latvian football tactics and refereeing

I’m not familiar with Latvian football, but according to the video below they are very creative in their tactics.

It’s an u17 match between Liepajas Metalurgs (blue shirts) and JDFS Alberts (orange shirts). The blue team is already champion in the league, but they want to try something new. This is their comment posted under the video: “Take it easy, they already were champions, so in the last minutes they tried something they wanted to do all year, but there weren’t chance to do that.”

The players of Liepjas Metalurgs get a free kick and surround the ball with the almost the whole team. After the referee signal, they take the kick and walk slowly forward, not giving any space to the opponents. The Alberts players try to sneak in the circle, but the referee whistles for an offence by one of them. That goes well a few times, but then … have a look!

What’s in the Laws of the Game about such situations? Check Laws of the Game: Fouls and Misconduct (page 113)

Charging an opponent
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

Logo Liepajas Metalurgs
Logo Liepajas Metalurgs
It’s filmed from a distance, but I think the defenders were making an offence by breaking into the circle. The person who posted the video mentioned that this was something they wanted to do all season. But what should they have taken into account if they wanted the score that way? The attackers should have thought of the fact that they can’t bump into standing players. For the explanation of that you’ve to look at page 116 of your English rulebook (don’t know page numbers in other languages): “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.” I bet the referee’s whistling because one of the opponents is falling down after the circle bumps into him.

NB: I still got no information about USSF Referee Advices and why they’re not introduced in other countries. But you should at least have a look at the comments below.


  • Joe McHugh

    This looks to me that the referee was dealing with encroachment by the defending team that is the Orange players who were not 9.15 metres from the ball before the kick was taken. When he eventually gets that sorted after having to caution one of the Orange for a heavy contact on a Blue player he correctly awards a free kick to the Orange. He had a choice of a number of fouls by Blue.
    In my opinion it was poor refereeing. He should have blown immediately for a free kick to the Orange when the ball was kicked and put into play on the 1st attempt. No need to deal with the encroachment nor this type of ruse it in the game. It was obvious that it was never going to work so he should have stopped it immediately and given the free kick to Orange. It would have saved him a caution and the possibility of possible violent conduct.


    Folks, this is covered by LOTG already and such “play” is not legal. It falls under LOTG’s “Miscellaneous Matters” further outlined in USSF’s Advice to Referees (yes, as per IFAB) and it reads in section 19.7:

    Players are expected to play the game using a “natural position.” Traditionally and in fact, “natural position” means simply that the player plays the natural way, with no contrived or “tricky” ways of gaining an advantage.

    Their arms should be in “natural” positions, not raised or flung out to cover more space. This applies not only to deliberate handling of the ball, the most recent example of manipulating play (and the referee) by doing things unnaturally, but also to free kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins.

    Another way of cheating by “making oneself bigger” can occur in impeding the opponent. A player shielding the ball extends the arms straight from the shoulders or moves them around, an unnatural thing to do. No player shielding the ball from another is allowed to use the arms or any other part of the body for other than maintaining balance — which does not include pushing off or holding the opponent. If the player is simply maintaining balance — in the opinion of the referee — then an opponent who initiates contact with the player who has the ball is guilty of charging illegally. If the player with the ball is holding out his or her arms or a leg not to maintain balance but to obstruct the opponent, the player has committed an indirect free kick offense, provided no contact occurred.
    However, if the player with the ball initiates any contact, then he or she has charged, held, or pushed (all direct free kick fouls) and must be punished accordingly.

    I hope this explains it.


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