Definition of Professional Foul

What is the meaning of Professional Foul in the game of soccer / football?

A professional foul is a deliberate, strategic and often cynical foul committed with the goal of preventing an opponent from scoring or generally getting in a dangerous position.

Some of these tactical fouls occur in non-goal threatening situations and can be useful for breaking up the opponents rhythm, stopping a counter-attack or buying time for the defense to reorganize.

Depending on the severity of the foul and its location on the the pitch, the referee often punishes such an offence with a yellow or red card.

The ref is punishing a professional foul with a yellow card - Illustration - Dictionary entry - What is the meaning of the term?

Professional fouls are looked down upon, but they are part of soccer. Some games, or moments in a game, are just too important and the players do not hesitate before making a premeditated foul that can get them kicked out of the match, but protect important points or an advantage for their team.

If a team is winning in the last minutes of a tournament final, a red card is a small price to pay for preventing a goal that would tie the game. A lot of professional fouls, unfortunately, are of cynical nature, and occur immediately after a player has been nutmegged, outdribbled or something of the sorts. Those fouls have more to do with ego and pride than a sacrifice for the team. Such offenses should be perhaps called unprofessional fouls.