Can Soccer Be Described As A Contact Sport?

Is Soccer a contact sport?

Soccer is one sport where body contact is necessary and is, therefore, a contact sport. It has been a contact sport since its inception and this cannot be argued or disputed. 

After all, tackling to win the ball in a game of soccer would surely result in a player making contact with an opponent although the move can be penalized based on the level of aggression deployed. 

This has resulted in the moderation of the game at various levels to reduce violence which has also been seen occasionally in soccer games. Meanwhile, soccer would be weird if all forms of bodily contact is barred.

Some examples of contact sports

There are many forms of contact sports in the world in recent times and soccer is only one of them. 

Some popular sports that can be referred to as contact sports include American football, rugby, ice hockey, mixed martial arts, basketball, and boxing, amongst others that can be mentioned in this category.

The aforementioned sports have rules that regulate how contact should be made, as well as the level of aggression that should be deployed in making contact. 

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Making contact is a major part of these sports and they would lose their uniqueness, significance, and the possibility of entertainment if there is no form of contact. I daresay that some of these sports won’t be in existence without contact.

Can contact be made in Soccer?

The answer is yes, although the contact is regulated as officials can penalize a soccer player if the level of aggression is way above what is allowed in a player’s quest to make contact in a soccer game. 

As we noted earlier, players would make contact if they go into a tackle during a soccer match although the contact must be with the ball first and not the opponent. 

Making contact with a player or an opponent before the ball would result in a foul and the player can be given a verbal warning, a yellow card, or a red card depending on the severity of the contact that was made.

In a soccer game, players are permitted to tussle with each other even shoulder-to-shoulder charges are occasionally allowed. 

For instance, in the 2021/22 UEFA Champions League Round-of-16 game between Real Madrid and PSG at the Bernabeu, Karim Benzema did a shoulder charge against PSG goalie Gianluigi Donnarumma and it resulted in a goal. The referee on the night ignored the goalkeeper’s calls for a foul for the incident.

If the players engage in an act of pushing an opponent or pulling the opponent’s shirt, they could be penalized and this is the case most of the time for this kind of contact in soccer.

We’ve seen soccer players receive plaudits for how physical and bullish they are, on and off the ball. 

These players leverage their strength and physicality to their advantage against their opponents, albeit within the rules of the game. The likes of Didier Drogba, Diego Costa, Virgil van Dijk, amongst others have received plaudits for their physicality.

We’ve also seen teams that received plaudits for their physicality. For instance, some years back in the Premier League, Stoke City were a very physical side and carried out their dominance of teams within the rules of the game before they were relegated. 

The same also applies to Sean Dyche’s Burnley in the Premier League who are one of the most physical sides but have maintained their place in the league.

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Is Soccer a contact sport?

Soccer is a contact sport but the contact is regulated by the rules of the game. Some contacts are allowed while some are penalized. However, the game of soccer will penalize any contact that impedes an opponent and that does not follow the rules of the game. 

Regardless, it remains a contact sport as players are allowed to make tackles in their quest to get the ball from an opponent.

Meanwhile, some schools of thought believe that physicality is a major part of the game while the fans of the game back in the day 80s, and 90s believe that the rules on tacking have changed so much in recent times that it has affected the physicality of the game.

Regardless, some historic games in soccer outline the physicality of the game as well as the role of making contact in the sport. 

Some of these games are The Battle of Nuremberg in 2006, local derby games in Serie A and the English Premier League, The Battle of Bramhall Lane in 2002, and The Battle of Santiago in 1962 amongst others.

Can Soccer be described as a high contact sport?

Soccer allows some occasions of physical acts but cannot be described as a high contact sport because there are regulations that govern how contact is made in the sport. 

The contact is soccer is nowhere near sports like rugby and football where some acts of wrestling are condoned. 

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This is never the case in a soccer game. Soccer is played with the feet and this is the major difference with the other sports like rugby and football.

The use of arms is not majorly encouraged in soccer. If players are very physical with their arms in soccer, it would likely result in fouls against them and it is one major reason why soccer cannot be described as a high contact sport. 

Some players who were criticized for always embracing their physical side are Duncan Ferguson, Gennaro Gattuso, Roy Keane, amongst others.

Can Soccer be described as a low-contact sport?

Soccer may not be described as a low contact sport either but can be closer to being a low contact sport than it is to be a high contact sport. 

Not all contact in soccer would be blown as a foul. Benzema’s tackle on Donnarumma in the 2021/22 UCL Round of 16 stages is a perfect example. 

This case also points out that it is down to the referee’s discretion. Regardless, the game of soccer could be overly physical, and classifying it as a low contact sport won’t cut it.

Conclusion: Is Soccer a contact sport?

Soccer can be described as a contact sport due to its competitiveness and how it is played. 

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Interceptions and tackles are a major part of the game as long as they are within the rules of the game. The game would lose its significance considerably if they are not permitted.

Players make contact when they try to defend a set-piece in soccer although pushing in this scenario would be penalized if the referee gets wind of it. We’ve seen how it works when freekicks and corner kicks are taken.

The introduction of the Fair Play concept in soccer was to promote fairness in the game, make players aware of how to conduct themselves on the pitch, and also help players to do away with any quest for violence on the pitch.