Look, I'm an old fart and know it. My years of truly competitive soccer are behind me. I still play on a HASL team and would like to continue for the foreseeable future. So, let me tell you about a disturbing thing I saw this past weekend.
I witnessed a HASL match where there were several two-footed tackles (2FTs, if you will) made by multiple players. I'm speaking of a player launching themselves (jumping into) a tackle with two legs extended toward the ball/attacker. Some make contact with the ball, but almost all also made contact with the attacker.
Two footed tackles like this one can cause serious injury
In the game I'm talking about, there was no reaction from the referee at all. Perhaps he didn't see them. Perhaps he considered them clean tackles. However, I was very concerned for the safety of all of the players on the field. I mentioned to the referee after the game, that I was concerned that it would result in broken bones if allowed to continue. BTW, I also think that he had otherwise done a great job managing the game.
I know it doesn't make me an expert, but I took a refereeing course a few years ago. I thought I remembered the instructor saying that 2FTs were considered an ejectionable offense. Although, I may have just remembered that in the EPL, it is an automatic ejection.
In fact, here is a quote from the EPL's Officials Board, "A player who jumps into a tackle two-footed is not in control of himself and therefore if he makes contact with the player, ball and player, or if the referee determines there to be excessive malice in the challenge, he will be dismissed."
Of course, we live and play in the US. So, what the EPL says doesn't have any bearing on what referees in the US are taught. So what does the United States Soccer Federation say about two-footed tackles?
While the USSF doesn't specifically call out 2FTs, it does have these guidelines for Fouls and Misconduct in the '08-'09 Laws of the Game Interpretation for Referees doc, which I believe are apt.
"“Using excessive force” means that the player has far exceeded the
necessary use of force and is in danger of injuring his opponent.
• A player who uses excessive force must be sent off."
The doc also describes careless and reckless fouls. Careless fouls are when a player shows a lack of attention and the result is a free kick for the opponent. The term reckless is used when a player acts in disregard of danger. In those situations, a foul is called and a caution is considered a just punishment.
As I've stated above, I guess the match referee didn't deem the multiple 2FTs careless, reckless or with excessive force, and that really concerns me. I've personally witnessed broken bones and torn ligaments due to this type of tactic before. Sadly, it is a completely preventable situation. Typically, conveying to the team captain prior to the match that such tactics are prohibited and will result in an ejection is enough to eliminate the problem.
Regardless, my concern that this tactic is in use in HASL and will eventually lead to serious injury is great enough that I asked a refereeing friend of mine to address it at the next NASOA (Northern Alabama Soccer Officials Association) meeting. If it's good enough for the EPL, it should be common sense for HASL, right? After all, most of us that play this game are not professionals and don't have full health coverage paid for by our clubs when bones are broken or ligaments torn during a game. :)
I ask that referees keep a close eye on these types of dangerous plays in future HASL games, and seriously consider ejecting anyone who uses this tactic whether they win the ball or not. We all have to go to work on Mondays, after all.