For those who study the LOTG, the collective answer is "... who cares ..." if the player is significantly out of control, or the underlying tackle itself is not legal, even if they got the ball first.
Well US Soccer apparently feels that this message is not getting through clear enough. So in a memo dated August 5th, 2011 it makes this point to its refereeing corps. This memo is titled, "I Got the Ball."
While it cites a particular incident which is not particularly relevant beyond acting as a catalyst for the memo, it does enumerate several points to consider regarding tackles in proximity of the ball.
Directly from the memo:
Tackles occur regularly in soccer. Most of them are legal but some are not, and the difference between a legal and an illegal tackle has been discussed often in USSF publications.
The following points must be kept in mind by all referees and, where appropriate, assistant referees:
- Getting the ball first does not make a tackle legal.
- Not getting the ball first does make the tackle illegal.
- Getting the ball first but following through with the rest of the body in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force does make the tackle illegal.
- “Getting the ball” cannot be used as an excuse for committing a tackle which is out of control.
Clear enough. Ball first? So What!