Is Soccer a Contact Sport? Everything You Need to Know

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Written by Daniel Pena, Bachelors in Kinesiology and footballer: Learn More

Is soccer a contact sport? The simple answer is yes it is and you know that contact is part of the game if you are a player yourself, but if you are a new fan or a neutral sports fan, you may not think of soccer as a contact sport.

The beautiful game is the most popular sport in the world because it is so simple to play and requires hardly any equipment and protective gear. Unlike other sports, such as hockey and American football, soccer players do not wear that much protective gear besides shin guards.

For this reason neutral fans may not think there is a lot of physical contact since the game is also dictated by the actions of a single soccer ball and since a lot of players are known for faking injuries and diving. However, real fans know that soccer players can put their bodies on the line in order to give their team an advantage and soccer is a contact sport.

In this blog, I will explain the basics that you need to know about the physical contact aspect of the game.

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What is a Contact Sport?

Before I explain how soccer is a contact sport let’s first discuss the different types of sports.

Noncontact sports

Non Contact sports are those in which there is minimal to no physical interaction between players and there is more focus on individual performance rather than direct confrontation with opponents. Examples of non contact sports include ping pong, tennis, swimming, and track and field.

Contact Sports

Contact sports, often called collision sports, involve frequent physical contact between players but within certain limitations. The level of physicality and consequences of each sport is different depending on the level of play and specific rules of each sport. Examples of contact sports include soccer, American Football, rugby, basketball, boxing, and mixed martial arts.

Limited Contact Sports

In limited contact sports, the frequency of contact between players is limited and physical contact is not the main part of the sport, but it can happen. Limited contact sports include baseball, bicycling, and adventure racing.

Is soccer a contact sport?

Yes, the beautiful game is a contact sport and it is an integral part of the game. There are also different types of sub categories for physical contact in the sport.

Different Types of Contact in Soccer

In soccer, physical contact can be categorized into three types: legal, illegal, and accidental.

Legal contact

The term “legal contact” refers to the acceptable forms of player engagement during a match.

Examples include:

  • Two players battling for position while waiting for a corner kick
  • Direct shoulder to shoulder contact when two players are both competing for control over the ball.
  • A clean slide tackle that gets the ball first not the player

Illegal contact

On the other hand, the term “illegal contact” refers to fouls and actions that violate FIFA’s official rules. This type of contact will usually lead to consequences such as yellow or red cards as well as penalty kicks or free kicks, usually a direct free kick, for the opposing team.

Examples include:

  • Dangerous tackles from behind or the use of excessive force in an attempt to win possession of the ball.
  • Kicking, punching, or pushing an opponent
  • A dirty slide tackle that hits the player first, not the ball

Accidental Contact

The last type of contact in soccer is accidental contact, which is exactly what it sounds like. In soccer, just like with any other sport, accidents can happen due to high speed gameplay and depending on the type of accident, and other factors, this type of contact may lead to certain consequences or not. It will all come down to the referee’s judgment.

Examples include:

  • Two players jumping for a header and bumping heads
  • Player running at full speed crashes with another player

How Dangerous is Soccer?

Association football, or soccer, can be considered a semi contact sport because it is not a full contact sport like American football or Rugby. Generally speaking, soccer is a safe sport, but dangerous foul play can happen from time to time.

It is rare for serious injuries to happen in football, such as broken legs and concussions, but they can happen which is why players have to make sure that they are doing everything in their power to decrease their risk of injury from physical contact as well as being constantly aware of their surroundings in-game.

In recent years, referees have been forced to be more strict on handing out disciplinary cards for fouls that are deemed as reckless or careless to promote a safer environment and fair play. With that said, soccer is not anywhere near as dangerous as other full contact sports such as American Football, rugby, boxing, or mixed martial arts.

However, that does not mean that players should not prioritize their safety and protective gear on the field.

Safety Measures for Players

If soccer is a contact sport, how do you avoid getting hit or injured? Physical contact is part of the game and cannot be 100% avoided, but there are things you can do on and off the field to limit the negative impacts of physical contact.

is soccer a contact sport

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Frequently Asked Questions

What is the best soccer training program?

The best online soccer training program and soccer app is Football Entangled. There is no other program like Football Entangled on the market and this community, much more than just an app, will help you get closer to making your dreams a reality.

How can I learn more about the game?

To learn more about soccer the most important thing is to join a team and play the game as much as possible. If possible, analyze high level games as much as you can and your own games as well by recording them with a soccer camera. Also read soccer books, listen to podcasts, watch soccer documentaries, as well as some movies, tv shows, and anime.


In conclusion, soccer is a semi-contact sport because although contact does happen, that is not the main objective of the sport. In this blog, I explained how soccer is a contact sport, the different types of contact, as well as some of the laws of the game that help minimize illegal physical contact.

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