The thin line between Spirited Play and Personal Liability

By D. St-Denis, Executive Director of the VUL
One of our Manager's shared an article with me a few weeks ago regarding a recent B.C. Supreme Court ruling where a recreational soccer league player was ordered to pay an opposing player more than $100,000 for an injury he dealt in a slide tackle.

The ruling raises the question of when can highly spirited, or highly competitive, play turn into a personal liability, especially in a recreational setting. It is a common belief that we owe a certain level of care to the people around us. From spatial awareness to recognizing the abilities of our opponents so we know when to "dial it back", we are all responsible for creating an environment where all participants feel respected and safe - and no, it doesn't compromise competition. The two don't cancel each other out.

But what if my play is in line with the rules? The above ruling explains that the league followed FIFA rules, and slide tackles were allowed. However, the judge ruled that the player's conduct met the definition of reckless and found the player's actions and conduct to be dangerous and outside what a player would reasonably expect in this recreational league, made up of players of all different skill levels. I've underlined that last part as this is the section of the ruling all VUL members need to understand and one that I have conveyed to a few players during code of conduct dispute resolutions. We all need to understand our duty of care to others and ensure that our play on the field reflects that understanding.

I share this information with you as it is part of our duty of care to you, our members, as we strive to create a safe and inclusive environment for all. 

The VUL Board of Directors has created a new Spirit of the Game Committee. If you are interested in helping create education campaigns and engagement opportunities, please email