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Advantage on Shirt Pull

Tactical fouls often occur by means of upper body fouls. Uniform (shirt/short) pulls are used in particular when a defender has just lost a challenge for the ball and begins chasing an attacker.

In the clip from the July 21 game between the Chicago Red Stars and the Atlanta Beat, the Chicago player (in white) wins a challenge from the Atlanta player (in orange). The play is locked in near the touchline and in front of the benches, which are two visual cues that a defender is less likely to accept “getting beat” as the play is in front of their own or the opposing team’s bench, and is more likely to commit a foul to shut down the ensuing attack.

Once the attacking player gains position on the defender following a fair challenge, the Referee should anticipate an upper body foul and be ready to insert a verbal to the defending player to let go of the attacker’s uniform. Such verbal management is often effective at minimizing or stopping the effect of the foul and allowing the attacker to continue advancing the ball. With highly skilled players, patience is also in order as they are often able to break free of such holds. Once the attacking player breaks free, the Referee can apply the Advantage clause and allow play to continue. The option exists to come back and caution the defender at the next stoppage for Unsporting Behavior (Blatant Shirt Hold). By stopping play, the Referee has allowed the hold to effectively stop the attack and a caution for Unsporting Behavior (Tactical foul) is warranted.

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