POTW11 Serious Foul Play v Violent Conduct


In this week’s Play of the Week we are comparing the difference between Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct.

The law states:

Serious Foul Play

A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Violent Conduct

Violent conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball.

We are looking at two incidents from the last round of MLS games that both went to video review with different outcomes.

In the first incident from the game between DC United and Toronto FC, Toronto’s Richie Laryea has possession of the ball and is under close attention from United’s Yamil Asad who then goes to ground holding his face. We can see on the replay that there is contact by Laryea’s elbow into Asad’s face. Referee Armando Villarreal does not see the contact and he allows play to continue. Eventually the ball is kicked out of play and the referee, following advice from the VAR, decides to have an on-field review (OFR). Villarreal has to decide whether the contact by Laryea is Serious Foul Play (Red Card) or Reckless (Yellow Card). Following the review, he decides it is reckless and cautions the offender.

In the second incident in the game Montreal Impact v Philadelphia Union, in a similar incident to the previous clip, Impact’s Romell Quioto has possession of the ball under close attention from Union’s Mark McKenzie and there is contact by Quioto’s elbow into McKenzie’s face. Referee Marcos Deolivera gives a yellow card to Quioto and is then advised by the VAR to have an OFR. Following the OFR Deolivera decides to send off Quioto for Violent Conduct.

You may ask why the first incident under consideration by the referee for Serious Foul Play or Reckless Challenge and the second incident resulted in a Red card for Violent Conduct when they were both similar in nature. In the first clip, even if you interpret it as violent, in terms of the Laws of the Game, it cannot be Violent Conduct as the player had possession of the ball and the offence occurred during a challenge for the ball. The referee made a decision that it was not Serious Foul Play and that it was a reckless challenge. However, in the second clip the ball is nowhere near the players when the contact occurs, so it cannot be regarded as a challenge for the ball and it must be Violent Conduct or nothing, it couldn’t be interpreted as a reckless challenge.


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