ONE thing we should not forget is football is a sport where contact can be made quite legitimately.

When I say we, I mean players, referees and spectators.

I remember mentoring a promising young referee, where two opposing players were standing in the middle of the pitch, one just a few feet behind the other.

The ball was kicked over their heads and the attacker turned to chase it, running straight into his opponent.

The referee played on, despite a plea from the thwarted attacker and the loud shout from his team’s spectators for a free-kick.

When we had our half-time chat, the young referee asked me if his decision was correct.

I was happy to confirm it was.

I was reminded of this recently, seeing a similar occurrence on a televised match with the same reaction from the player and his supporters.

The Law says that 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.

There are instances of course, when a player can make deliberate but legal contact with an opponent.

This is by means of a shoulder charge, but there are certain conditions.

First of all, the ball must be within playing distance, a player can’t just block any opponent running past him.

It also can’t be a reckless charge or made using excessive force, and it has to be shoulder-to-shoulder, not in the opponent’s back or chest.

One of the most common faults I find, is when going shoulder-to-shoulder a player raises his touching arm levering it outwards from the elbow. This then becomes a push.

When I started refereeing, we had a book called The Referees Chart and Players Guide to the Laws of the Game.

Players were warned if they were fairly shoulder charged and were off balance, they could take a heavy fall.

They were advised to accept it, as just part of the game.