Is soccer a contact sport? Unraveling the nature of soccer's physicality

Is soccer a contact sport? Unraveling the nature of soccer's physicality

Helix Odhiambo
June 1, 2023 at 8:41 AM

Soccer is the most popular sport on earth. Billions of people follow the game, and almost every fan has a favourite team and players they support. The sport also has laws that ensure fairness in the game and protect players. So, is soccer a contact sport, and what do the rules say about touching the opponent?

Is soccer a physical contact sport?
Lionel Messi of Paris Saint-Germain is challenged by Matthijs de Ligt of FC Bayern Munich as Yann Sommer of FC Bayern Munich looks on during their UEFA Champions League game on 8 March 2023 in Munich, Germany. Photo: Sebastian Widmann
Source: Getty Images

The game has existed for thousands of years and has evolved with time. It is an exciting game to watch because of the level of competition and the energy of fans in stadiums. It has also produced exceptional stars known for their controversial playing styles.

Is soccer a contact sport?

It is a contact sport because players often clash with each other and put their bodies on the line to win the ball. But is soccer a full-contact sport? It does involve more physicality, like rugby and wrestling. Referees often award fouls or issue yellow and red cards to soccer stars who use excessive force to take the ball from rivals.

What does contact mean in soccer?

How is soccer a contact sport?
Manchester City's Manuel Akanji and Fulham's Harry Wilson during their Premier League match at Craven Cottage on 30 April 2023 in London, United Kingdom. Photo: Rob Newell
Source: Getty Images

It means being 'shoulder to shoulder' with the opponent. Top stars like Sergio Ramos, Casemiro, and Harry Maguire have earned weird nicknames because of their reckless tackles on opponents that sometimes injure leaves them with injuries. So, is soccer considered a non-contact sport?

The familiar physical sports examples are basketball, rugby, wrestling, American football, ice hockey, and boxing. Most athletes playing these types of games are prone to injuries because of the hard tackles by opponents.

Which is more of a contact sport, soccer or basketball?

Which is more of a contact sport, soccer or basketball?
Jamal Murray (27) of the Denver Nuggets holds the ball during their Western Conference Finals game against the LA Lakers on 22 May 2023 at Crypto.Com Arena in Los Angeles, California. Photo: Andrew D. Bernstein
Source: Getty Images

Soccer is more physical than basketball because players often run and jump, while basketball requires more coordination. However, pushing or dangerous tackles on rivals are not allowed in both games.

Is soccer a physical contact sport than rugby?

Rugby is more physical since it requires speed, agility, power, and the ability to endure knocks and whacks from opponents. Rugby is one of the most physical sports on earth. The game involves two teams whose players push, tackle, throw, kick, and run to get the ball behind the goalposts.

What is a non-contact sport?

What does contact mean in soccer?
Tennis, golf, and cricket are examples of sports where players cannot have physical contact with one another during matches. Photo: Jeff Moreland, Ben Hoskins, and Koji Watanabe (modified by author)
Source: Getty Images

It is a game where athletes do not have physical touch with the opponent. In most cases, they cannot share the same physical space. These games include golf, cricket, volleyball, tennis, badminton, bowling, and surfing. They have more advantages as compared to contact games. The advantages include:

  • Provide room for critical and constructive thinking
  • They relax the body's muscles
  • Low risk of sustaining injuries
  • Helping in the development of speed and free movement of the body
  • They are often for fun and entertaining to watch

What type of sport is soccer?

The game involves two teams, each with 11 players. They can move the ball using their legs, head, and other body parts besides the hand. Only the goalkeeper, who guards the post, can use their hand to control the ball within the box. Players can sprint, walk, run fast or slow, and sometimes stand to read the game or wait for a pass.

Soccer has rules that the athletes should observe on and off the pitch. Some are part of the written rules, while others require common sense. The unwritten rules of soccer help athletes to behave in a sportsmanlike manner, like, fair play, respecting the opponent, and the referee's decision.

How is soccer a contact sport?

The unwritten rules of soccer
Referee Lambrechts Erik shows Union St-Gilloise's defender, Nieuwkoop Bart, a yellow card during their Jupiler Pro League Champions' Play-Off match against Royal Antwerp FC on 28 May 2023 in Antwerpen, Belgium. Photo: David Hagemann
Source: Getty Images

Players can challenge one another through tackles if they win the ball. However, some dangerous moves like high boots are punishable. It is common to see players touching one another, especially when shielding the ball from an opponent or defending a corner with indirect free kicks.

Is women's soccer a contact sport?

In women's games, they can also have contact with one another. However, it is not as physical as that of men. The laws protect female athletes because they are not physically strong like men to go 'shoulder to shoulder' with opponents.

Is soccer a contact sport? According to our analysis, soccer involves contact between players on the pitch. But there is a limit beyond which a player gets penalised for using excessive force to win the ball. Still, it is a brilliant sport, followed by billions globally.

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Helix Odhiambo photo
Helix Odhiambo
SEO Editor