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The term challenge ( english foul "bad", "dirty" → protogermanisch of fūlaz = lazy, rotten) designated sports - except in baseball - an irregular behavior: A player ignored during the current game's duties or opposing rights, acting on a Unsportsmanlike opponent and / or incorrectly prevents an imminent success of the opponent. A player can intentionally or unintentionally commit a foul as a result of unsuccessful legal action. Negligence is also possible. In most sports, a foul results in the referee stopping the game .

Depending on the rules of the game and the severity of a foul, it should be punished . Depending on the sport, these are different advantages of the team disadvantaged by the foul, e.g. B. by free kick , free throw , gain of space or penalty points as well as additional optional or mandatory personal penalties such as yellow card (warning), red card (exclusion from the game), time penalty (temporary exclusion from the game).

In snooker , a foul serves as a strategic tool and is even of central importance, since provoking a foul usually requires a snooker , after which the game is named. Points are always credited to the opponent of the offender.


Definition in the rules

The Football Rules define seven offenses that result in a direct free kick when taken against an opposing player:

  • Jostling, d. H. Use the body in a duel in a way that is no longer appropriate
  • Start an engine
  • Kick or attempted kick
  • Tripping or trying to trip a leg
  • Hitting the opponent or trying to hit him
  • Pushing the opponent
  • Tackle with your foot or attack with another part of the body

The mere circumstance of the offense is sufficient here, an intention is not important. If such an offense is committed recklessly, the player must also be given a warning, if it is excessively harsh or if it endangers the health of the opponent, a reprimand must be pronounced next to the free kick.

Three other offenses also result in a direct free kick:

  • Hold
  • Spitting on or biting
  • Suspend without fighting for the ball if there is physical contact
  • Intentional handball (except in the case of the goalkeeper in his own penalty area)

When spitting at or biting, a field reference must also be pronounced; in other cases, the pronunciation of a personal disciplinary penalty (warning or field reference) depends on further details.

For all mentioned fouls, if they are committed in the penalty area by the defending team by a defending player or the defending goalkeeper, a penalty kick is awarded instead of a free kick .

Types of fouls

Some fouls have special characteristics:

Offensive foul

An offensive foul , often referred to as a striker foul , occurs when a player from the attacking team fouls an opponent.

Tactical foul

A tactical foul is a foul that is committed solely for tactical reasons. The aim of a tactical foul is to interrupt the game, with subsequent possession of the ball by the opponent. The interruption gives your team time to form up and adjust to the new game situation. Tactical fouls are often committed when the opponent tries to prepare a counterattack .

Tactical fouls differ from ordinary fouls in several ways. "Normal" fouls are usually used as a last resort to stop the opponent or are accidentally made. Among other things, aggression and anger often play a role, for example with a blood stick , which is not the case with tactical fouls. Instead, there are grips on the arm or on the jersey , which does not endanger the opponent and still induces the referee to interrupt the game.

Tactical fouls often cause discussion because they use the rules, which are supposed to ensure fairness , to achieve an advantage. For this reason, among other things, in some sports (e.g. soccer ) the referee has the option of deciding on an advantage if the fouled player remains in possession of the ball or the ball reaches a teammate. In addition, a football foul that is obviously committed for tactical reasons will be punished with a warning . Michael Ballack received a yellow card in the 2002 World Cup semifinals after a tactical foul and was therefore banned from the final.

Revenge foul

A foul, usually carried out as assault , as a reaction to a foul by the opponent is also known as a revenge foul. Revenge fouls are always considered to be at least unsportsmanlike and result in an additional warning, provided that the type of foul does not lead to an expulsion from the field.

"Emergency brake"

If the referee recognizes that a clear scoring chance was prevented by foul, he sends the offender with the red card for the remainder of the game. Such a foul is usually referred to colloquially as an emergency brake .

Individual evidence

  1. Football rules 2019/2020, rule 12. Fouls and unsporting behavior. (PDF, 69 MB) DFB, March 6, 2020, pp. 71–86 , accessed on March 6, 2020 .