Is Soccer A Contact Sport?

Popular the world over, soccer (or football, as it is known in the United Kingdom) is one of the best-loved sports – played and supported by countless millions of people from all walks of life. 

Is Soccer A Contact Sport?

Despite this though, there are many people here in the United States who are still unsure about the sport, as well as the rules and regulations that are involved – namely to do with the amount of contact that is acceptable, and the responsibilities of each position. 

So is soccer a contact sport, and if not, why not? 

Is It A Contact Sport? 

When it comes to soccer, the answer to this question is yes and no. Due to the nature of the sport, players do come into contact with one another and are allowed to legally tackle and intercept the ball from the holding player. 

The thing to remember though is that, unlike full-contact sports like Football and rugby, soccer is not a physically violent sport, and there are specific rules and regulations in place to police the conduct of players during a game. 

Is Any Contact Allowed? 

Within soccer, there are certain rules that govern whether or not contact between players was justified, unavoidable, or an illegal move. 


The game can be dangerous for players. Clashes between players can be a natural and often accidental part of the game – including things like bumping shoulders, accidental tripping, and other minor contacts.

However, there are many aspects of the sport where non-accidental injuries happen, and these have certain penalties for the players involved. 


Within soccer, tackles are allowed, but they have to be directed at seizing control of the ball, not as a means of causing harm to another player.

This means that the tackle has to be fair, and contact needs to be minimal. 

In fact, most of the contact usually occurs when both players collide and fall to the ground, once the attacking player has intercepted the ball. 


Most collisions between players occur when one player is intercepting the ball from another player. This is an example of purposely being in the way of another player, but an accidental collision following the fact. 

Fair Charges

The most common form of contact between players, as mentioned previously, is shoulder-to-shoulder contact when players are chasing after the ball.

This is considered a fair charge and does not result in any penalties or disqualifications, due to it being a natural part of the game. 

If players were not allowed to make any contact at all, then it would be very different from what it looks like presently. It would also be extremely difficult to play the game, especially if players were not allowed to make any physical contact with one another. 

This would effectively mean that only interceptions would be allowed, meaning that the player with the ball would simply have to hold onto it to stop an attacking player from seizing control.

All in all, this would make for very boring viewing. 

Non-Accidental Contact

Of course, there are instances where players will deliberately try to tackle a player to cause them harm or injury, and in these cases, it is considered a foul – something that can result in a yellow or red card being presented, depending on the severity and the appearance of the intent behind it (to find out how many red cards Messi has, read here). 

What Are The Consequences Of Contact? 

What Are The Consequences Of Contact? 

If it becomes apparent that a player deliberately tried to injure another player, then there are various penalties that can befall them. 

Yellow Cards

The first penalty a player can receive against their name is a yellow card.

If a player took a risk and caused injury to another player that could have been avoided, then they will sometimes be presented with a yellow card by the referee. 

A player can only get two yellow cards per game, otherwise, this will become a red card, which results in instant removal from the pitch. 

A yellow card will only last for the remainder of the game, after which it is scrubbed from the record. 

Red Cards

If a player goes out of their way to cause injury or tackles another player purely to knock them over, then this could result in a red card. 

These can also be presented in instances where players strike other players on the field, or if they spit, give abusive language, or purposely set out to foul a player. 

Once presented with a red card by the referee, the player will instantly have to leave the pitch and will be given a disqualification that will remain in effect for three matches.

These can be harmful to a player’s career, and can hinder the performance of a team, depending on the skill level and value of the player who was ‘sent off’. 


In extremely serious instances – both on and off the field – fines can be issued to individual players or even their teams if it is sufficiently bad enough. 

There have been many instances where repeat offenses by players within a specific team have resulted in the soccer club itself receiving hefty fines from the governing bodies of soccer. 

Things To Remember

When it comes to contact in soccer, the important thing to remember is that an attempt for the ball is a legal move, and any accidental contact that occurs will generally be forgiven by the referee – assuming it’s not serious, and injury could’ve been avoided. 

Final Thoughts

And there we have it, everything you need to know about soccer, and whether or not it is a contact sport!

Soccer is a widely popular sport, and holds the spot as the most beloved sport in the world.

And it’s not hard to see why, with such a vibrant competitive scene, passionate fans, and some of the best athletes in the world, it’s clear that it doesn’t need to be violent to be entertaining.

Adrian Turner
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