Obstruction In Soccer (Find Out The True Meaning Of This Soccer Term!)

Last Updated on October 25, 2023 by Alex PT

In soccer, obstruction, also known as “obstruction fouls,” occurs when a player uses their body to block an opponent’s movement without playing the ball. This is a common foul, leading to free kicks or penalties. It’s essential for fair play, with numerous obstructions happening during a typical match.

What is an Obstruction in Soccer? (Full Explanation)

1. Definition of Obstruction in Soccer:

The term “obstruction” in soccer refers to an action deliberately executed by a player, often to prevent an opponent from playing the ball. It is also known as “impeding the progress of an opponent.”

2. Importance of Understanding Obstruction:

Understanding what constitutes obstruction in soccer is essential. It helps players prevent penalties and allows referees to ensure fairness and control in games.

3. When Does Obstruction Occur?

Obstruction typically occurs when a player intentionally puts their body in the path of an opponent to block them from getting to the ball, while not attempting to play the ball themselves.

4. Importance of Body Positioning:

Proper positioning is crucial. A player can shield the ball if it is within a playable distance. However, using their body to block an opponent without being in a playable distance constitutes obstruction.

Playable DistanceNot Playable Distance
Shielding the ballConstitutes obstruction

5. Implementing the Obstruction Rule:

Referees enforce the obstruction rule and often make judgments based on whether the interference was intentional or not. The punishment for obstruction is usually a direct free kick for the opponent at the spot of the violation.

6. Importance of Player’s Conduct:

The player’s conduct, notably their intent and how they use their body, defines whether a move will count as obstruction.

7. Misinterpretation of Obstruction:

A common misinterpretation is considering physical contact as a prerequisite for obstruction. However, even without physical contact, a player can obstruct another if they impede their path to the ball intentionally.

8. Goalkeeper’s Exception:

There’s a particular rule for goalkeepers: Goalies within their penalty area may remain stationary with the ball at their feet for up to six seconds. This is not considered obstruction.

9. The Evolution of Obstruction Rule:

The obstruction rule, like all soccer rules, evolves over time. For instance, FIFA changed several rules concerning obstruction in the past decades to maintain match fluidity.

10. Obstruction and Fair Play:

Understanding and avoiding obstruction is not only about adhering to the rules but also respecting the spirit of sportsmanship and fair play.

The Table Below Contains The Fouls In Soccer.

Major Soccer OffensesJumping at an opponent attempting to injure an opponent Charging an opponent in a very violent or dangerous wayTripping an opponent holding down an opponent  
Other Minor OffensesOffside play charging a goalkeeper Deliberate delaying of the game by the goalkeeper or any player instruction or InterferenceCharging an opponent with no intention of playing the ball  
MisconductUnsportsmanlike or “Ungentlemanly” conductContinuously breaking the other rules enter or exit the field of play, permission must be given by the refereeing dissent shown to the referee, either by action or verbally  

For some time now, the rule of obstruction has been active in soccer but it doesn’t exist in the game anymore. Obstruction in soccer is now known as the act of impeding an opponent’s movement or progress, meaning that a player deliberately moves into his opponent’s path to force a change of direction, obstruct, slow down or even block when he doesn’t have the ball in playing distance. For this offense, an indirect free-kick is given by the referee. You can, however, hardly see anything like obstruction in today’s fast-paced game, because once contact is made, it becomes a foul for some reason.

Fouls in soccer are mainly about common sense in reality. Plays that are prohibited are covered by Law 12 and in Law 13, fouls committed usually result in either a free-kick or penalty kick if the foul is committed in the penalty area. Fouls in soccer can be subdivided into major offenses, minor offenses, and misconduct.

Top 9 Major Soccer Offenses

We have outlined nine major offenses included in the rules manual, which if any is committed, its considered soccer fouls and will definitely result in a direct free-kick. So, in no particular order, here are the nine offenses in soccer;

1. Jumping at an opponent

2. Attempting to injure an opponent

3. Charging an opponent in a very violent or dangerous way

4. Tripping an opponent

5. Holding down an opponent

6. Trying or kicking an opponent

7. Charging an opponent from behind in a dangerous way

8. Handling the ball

9. Pushing an opponent

Other Minor Offenses

Any offender of these offenses will have an indirect free-kick awarded against his team;

1. Offside play

2. Charging a goalkeeper

3. Deliberate delaying of the game by the goalkeeper or any player

4. Instruction or Interference

5. Charging an opponent with no intention of playing the ball

6. Holding a ball in your hands as a goalkeeper after receiving a pass from your teammate

7. Goalkeeper handling the ball outside the box 18

8. Dangerous play


An indirect free-kick or a yellow card will be given if any of these offenses are committed;

1. Unsportsmanlike or “Ungentlemanly” conduct

2. Continuously breaking the other rules

3. To enter or exit the field of play, permission must be given by the referee

4. Any dissent shown to the referee, either by action or verbally

However, a red card will be shown by the referee if any of these offenses is committed;

1. Commits a serious foul or a violent foul

2. Receives a second yellow card

3. Uses foul language, resisting or abusive language on the field will lead to a red card

Is There An Obstruction Rule In Football?

Yes, of course! A player cannot challenge an opposition’s goalkeeper when in control of the ball with his hands. Moving into the path of an opponent to slow down, block, obstruct, or force a change of direction is what is called impeding the progress of an opponent when the isn’t playing distance between the two players.  

Is Shielding Legal In Soccer?

Players are allowed to shield the ball when they are in complete possession of it. However, if a player does not have the ball within a playing distance or possibly couldn’t play the ball legally, he cannot shield the ball. If he does that, it means he has impeded the progress of an opponent, which is a foul and he might be penalized further by the referee.

What Is An Obstruction In Soccer?

When the progress of a player is impeded by his opponent, it results to an “indirect kick foul” in soccer. Impeding used to be called “obstruction”. As a player, you cannot use your body to impede another player’s movements, deliberate or not!

Final Words

The bottom line is that moving into the path of an opponent to slow down, block, obstruct, or force a change of direction is what is called impeding or obstructing the progress of an opponent when the isn’t a playing distance between the two players. We’ve come to the end of this informative article. We hope you were able to find resources in your quest to know what obstruction means in soccer. Please do not hesitate to contact us for questions or comments. Thanks!



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