Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

Soccer: A Contact Sport or Not?


Soccer, the world’s most popular sport, has the power to captivate nations and cities, making it more than just a game. The passion and devotion of soccer fans around the globe are unmatched. However, there is an ongoing debate about whether soccer should be classified as a contact sport. Let’s explore this topic further.

Defining Contact Sports

Before delving into why soccer is considered a contact sport, it’s crucial to understand what defines a contact sport. In contact sports, players will inevitably come into physical contact, whether intentionally or unintentionally, while playing the game. Examples of contact sports include basketball and soccer. Contact is not a part of the game’s rules but can occur during gameplay.

In contrast, non-contact sports like swimming involve no physical contact between players. If contact occurs in non-contact sports, it signifies something has gone wrong.

Why Soccer is a Contact Sport

Shielding the Ball: Soccer players often use their bodies to shield the ball from opponents, creating a physical barrier. This technique, called shielding, involves positioning oneself between the opponent and the ball. The opponent will naturally come into contact with the player attempting to shield the ball while trying to regain possession.

Slide Tackles: Slide tackling is another aspect of soccer that often leads to physical contact between players. While slide tackling is legal, the resulting contact can lead to injuries. Soccer players have witnessed or experienced leg injuries resulting from slide tackles, highlighting the contact nature of the sport.

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Shoulder-to-Shoulder Challenges: Shoulder barges, which involve using the shoulder to displace an opponent, are permitted in soccer. While pushing is not allowed, fair shoulder-to-shoulder challenges help players gain an advantage. These challenges often result in contact between players.

Despite these reasons, some argue that soccer does not necessarily require contact between players. Unlike full-contact sports such as American football or rugby, soccer could potentially be played without players making contact and still function effectively. Additionally, the amount of permissible contact in soccer is relatively limited compared to full-contact sports.

What Do the Rules Say About Contact in Soccer?


According to FIFA, the governing body of soccer, fair contact occurs when players challenge for the ball side-by-side. Fair contact involves a physical tussle for space without the use of elbows or arms. Shoulder-to-shoulder challenges are also considered fair play, as long as players do not push or hold their opponents.

Tackling is another aspect of soccer that often leads to contact. A tackle is deemed fair if the player making the tackle first contacts the ball rather than the opponent. Reckless, careless, or dangerous tackles are considered offenses and can result in penalties such as free-kicks, yellow cards, or red cards.

It’s important to note that there are also accidental contact situations in soccer, which are not considered fair or unfair challenges. These situations occur unintentionally and do not lead to sanctions.


Here are some frequently asked questions about soccer as a contact sport:

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Q: Does soccer require physical contact?
A: Soccer involves physical contact between players, although the amount of contact permitted is limited compared to full-contact sports.

Q: Can players use their bodies to shield the ball in soccer?
A: Yes, shielding the ball with the body is a common technique in soccer. It often results in contact between the player shielding the ball and the opponent.

Q: Are slide tackles legal in soccer?
A: Slide tackles are legal in soccer, but the resulting contact can lead to injuries. Players must be cautious when executing slide tackles.

Q: What constitutes fair contact in soccer?
A: Fair contact in soccer occurs when players challenge for the ball side-by-side without using elbows or arms. Shoulder-to-shoulder challenges are also considered fair play.


Soccer is undoubtedly a physically demanding sport with frequent tussles between players. Over the years, governing bodies like FIFA have implemented rules to enhance player safety and reduce excessive physical force. While contact is inherent in soccer, the focus remains on fair play and minimizing dangerous situations. Soccer continues to captivate fans worldwide with its blend of skill, strategy, and controlled physicality.

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