This Video from the... Ken Aston Referee Society -
Aim of this page is to explain exactly what a Team comprises of.
How to manage Substitutes & Injuries
Two teams, each consisting, play a match of not more than eleven
players, one of whom is the goalkeeper.
A match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players.
Up to a maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match played in
an official competition organized under the auspices of FIFA, the
confederations or the national associations.
The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be
nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.
In other matches, up to five substitutes may be used, provided that: the
teams concerned reach agreement on a maximum number the referee is
informed before the match If the referee is not informed, or if no
agreement is reached before the start of the match, no more than three
substitutes are allowed.
In all matches the names of the substitutes must be given to the referee
prior to the start of the match. Substitutes not so named may not take
part in the match.
To replace a player by a
substitute, the following conditions must be observed:
- The referee is
informed before any proposed substitution is made
- A substitute only enters the field of play after the player
being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the
- A substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line
and during a stoppage in the match
- A substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field
- From that moment, the substitute becomes a player and the player
he has replaced ceases to be a player
- A player who has been replaced takes no further part in the
All substitutes are subject to the authority and
jurisdiction of the referee, whether called upon to play or not!
Changing the Goalkeeper
Any of the other players may
change places with the goalkeeper, provided that:
- The referee is informed before the change is made.
- The change is made during a stoppage in the match.
- If a substitute enters the field of play without the referee's
Play is stopped
- The substitute is cautioned, shown the yellow card and required to
leave the field of play
- Play is restarted with a dropped ball at the place it was located
when play was stopped
If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the Referee's
permission before the change is made:
- The players concerned are cautioned and shown the yellow card when
the ball is next out of play
For any other infringements of this Law:
- The players concerned are cautioned and shown the yellow card
Restart of Play
- If play is stopped by the referee to administer a caution:
The match is restarted by an indirect free kick, to be taken by a player
of the opposing team from...
the place where the ball was located when play
Players and Substitutes Sent Off
- A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only
by one of the named substitutes.
- A named substitute who has been sent off, either before the kick-off or
after play has started, may not be replaced.
Two teams play a match, each consisting of not more that eleven players,
one of whom is the goalkeeper. A match may not start if either team
consists of fewer than seven players. Players arriving late may join the
team at any time including extra time. For example, if a team starts
with ten men, and their eleventh player arrives ten minutes after the
kick-off, the late arrival may join his teammates on the field of play
during an appropriate stoppage in play - and on the Referee's signal.
Note: Some competitions allow teams with fewer that eleven players. In
that case, the specific competition rules will dictate the minimum and
maximum number of players allowed. (See 'Modifications' below).
Although a team may play with fewer than 11 players if they want to (or
if they are forced to through injuries or cautions), teams are not
allowed to field more than 11 players, or play with more than one
goalkeeper at the same time.
Subject to the agreement of the National Football Associations concerned
and provided the principles of these Laws are maintained, the Laws may
be modified in their application for matches for players of under 16
years of age, for women footballers, for veteran footballers (over 35
years) and for players with disabilities. This recognizes the large
number of players with disabilities who play football and permits
appropriate modifications to the Laws to enable them to take part in
officially organized competitions.
Any or all of the following modifications are permissible.
- Size of the field of play
- Size, weight and material of the ball
- Width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the ground
- The duration of the periods of play
Before a match begins,
the Referee should count all of the players on the field of play, to
ensure that the correct numbers are present. This should also be done at
the start of each half. Before commencing the second half, the Referee
should ask the players whether any substitutions have been made during
the half-time interval - players very often forget to mention this to
The Referee should also check to see that each goalkeeper is in place,
and that their uniforms are correct in accordance with Law 4 (The
Players' Equipment). e.g. "Goalkeepers must wear a color that
distinguishes them from the Referee, Assistant referees. & Other
Up to a maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match played in
an official competition under the auspices of FIFA, the Confederations
or the National Associations.
The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be
nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.
In other matches, substitutes may
be used, provided that:
The Referee is informed
before the match.
- The teams concerned reach an agreement on the maximum number. This
gives teams flexibility in the number of substitutes permitted in
friendly matches. But the previous controls regarding teams reaching
agreement on the numbers to be permitted, and on the need for the
referee to be informed before the match, still remain.
- If the Referee is not informed, or if no agreement is reached
before the start of the match, no more than three substitutes are
all matches the names of the substitutes must be given to the
Referee prior to the start of the match. Substitutes not so
named may not take part in the match. If a substitution is made
during the game, and the Referee notices that the name given to
him by the oncoming substitute is not listed in his notebook (or
on the official substitute listing), then that player is not
allowed to take part in the game.
other words - the names of all of the substitutes must be given
to the Referee before the game starts - else they cannot take
part. To ascertain the number of substitutes allowed in a game,
Referees should check the competition rules before each game.
The Referee has a duty to ensure that any player bleeding from a
wound leaves the field of play as soon as possible for treatment.
Bleeding players must only return after receiving a signal from the
Referee - and after the Referee (or Fourth Official if this
responsibility has been given to him by the Referee) has checked
that the bleeding (or blood soaked uniform) has been dealt with
Tip: Should a serious injury occur at the lower levels of football,
there would invariably not be a first-aide or medical assistant
available? Always carry a pair of disposable throwaway plastic
gloves in your pocket during local park level games, just in case
you need them to stem any serious blood injuries to players. But be
beware - that you (the Referee) are not responsible for treating
injured players - and must only do so if the situation calls for it.
Remember, this is only a game. Human life is far more important than
adhering to correct football Law procedure. If you need to save a
life, or prevent serious injury, then help where you can.
If the Referee is advised by a doctor or other medically qualified
person that a player's injury is so bad, that it would be harmful
for that player to continue playing, the Referee should ask the
player to leave the field of play. The Referee may also require a
player to leave the field to be examined medically.
blows/injuries to the head)
Also to be considered as "serious injury" under the laws should be
any suspected injury to the head.
A player should be
considered INCAPACITATED DUE TO A BLOW TO THE HEAD if, due to such a
1. Cannot count the number of fingers held up by the
2. Cannot follow the finger of the official/trainer using only the
eyes, or does so with severe jerking of the eyes (nystagmus).
3. Cannot walk about five paces to the official/trainer (normal
steps, not heel to toe like the test for drunk driving) on command
or is unsteady in doing so
4. Unconsciousness for any duration greater than three seconds
5. Obvious disorientation, irrationality, or other signs that the
player is "not himself/herself"
In addition to being
a soccer referee, I am also certified as a referee by my state
boxing commission. The guidelines I have given here are approved by
the commission as well as by several sports bodies worldwide. Most
persons would consider these to be reasonable indicators of
incapacity, regardless of medical training.
ANY PLAYER WHO IS DEEMED INCAPACITATED FROM A BLOW TO THE HEAD
SHOULD BE REMOVED FROM THE MATCH AND PROHIBITED FROM FURTHER PLAY
UNTIL MEDICALLY CLEARED TO CONTINUE BY A DOCTOR OF MEDICINE.
IN NO CASE WHATSOEVER SHOULD CLEARANCE BE GIVEN BEFORE 24 HOURS
HAVE ELAPSED FROM THE TIME OF THE INJURY!
CONCUSSIONS AND OTHER BRAIN INJURIES CAN HAVE DELAYED EFFECTS THAT
CAN BE FATAL!
Further, an on field checks by the team doctor...
SHOULD NOT BE CONSIDERED
SUFFICIENT TO CLEAR A PLAYER UNDER THESE CIRCUMSTANCES.
neurologist should examine the player at a medical facility,
The Laws of the Game stipulate that an injured player must have the
referee's permission to re-enter the field of play after being
treated. If a player is deemed incapacitated by a blow to the head,
permission to re-enter the match It is much better to have a player
disgruntled but alive to play another day than it is to risk the
player's life over a game of football. I have actually had to use
these guidelines in matches on several occasions. I can tell you
that they work on the football pitch quite well and that, although I
am also a boxing referee, you don't need to be one to use my
“ONLY ONE OF THE CRITERIA I LISTED
NEEDS TO BE PRESENT
FOR A PLAYER TO BE DEEMED INCAPACITATED.”
Austin Baitman, for this Information.
U.S.S.F. Grade 6 Referee
United States Amateur Boxing (USA Boxing) Level 1 Official
2. Substitution Procedure:
To replace a player by a
substitute, the following conditions must be observed:
The Referee must be informed before any proposed substitution is
made: The Referee should signal agreement for the substitution to
A substitute only enters the field of play after the player being
replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the Referee. If a
substitute comes on without the Referee's permission - stop play,
caution the substitute, ask him to leave field of play, restart with a
drop ball at place where play was stopped. The substitute to then come
on as normal during next stoppage in the game.
A substitute only enters the field of play during a stoppage in the
match and at the halfway line (but use common sense in local park
matches when there is no defined technical area or benches).
A substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field play.
From that moment, the substitute becomes a player and the player he has
replaced ceases to become a player.
A player who has been replaced takes no further part in the match.
A player leaving the
Field of Play is entitled to take part in another match unless
competition rules state otherwise.
All substitutes are subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the
Referee, whether called upon to play or not. In other words, they can
still be disciplined throughout the game, even though they are not on
the Field of Play.
A player who has been
replaced by a substitute, is still under the jurisdiction of the Referee
and can still be cautioned or sent-off even though he is no longer on
the field of play. In other words, he still has to behave himself whilst
watching the remainder of the game.
A player, who has already played in the match but has been replaced by a
substitute, is not allowed to take any further part in the same match.
It is not possible for that player to become a substitute himself, and
return back onto the field of play. (The only exception to this is
during friendly matches, when both teams have agreed with the Referee to
allow players, who have been substituted, to return back into the game.)
Referees should try to adhere to the substitution procedures shown
above. Referees who deviate from these procedures - whether in the
interest of saving time or because the procedural steps are thought to
be too complex and cumbersome - do so at their own peril. The Laws of
the Game specify the procedure for very good reasons. Deviations can
lead to ambiguous situations occurring which may be difficult for the
Referee to act on within the Law.
When teams require making a substitution, they should notify the Referee
(usually via the Senior Assistant Referee). The Senior Assistant Referee
is normally responsible for indicating to the Referee when a team wishes
to make a substitution. The Senior Assistant Referee is then responsible
for noting the substitute's name/number, and organizing when and where
the substitute can enter the Field of Play (from the half-way line).
Where a Fourth Official is available, the responsibility of dealing with
substitution could be shared between the Fourth Official, and the
If there is a Fourth Official present, he may deal with substitutions on
his own (depending on the responsibility given to him by the Referee).
If display cards or electronic boards are available, the Fourth Official
will display a card (or board) with the number of the player who is
leaving the game, followed by a card (or board) with the number of the
substitute entering the game. When a substitution takes place, the
Senior Assistant Referee should make his way towards the halfway line
and assist the Fourth official in the procedure. When the substitution
has been fully completed, the Assistant Referee should take up his
position and then give a signal for the restart to the Referee.
If the substitute's equipment does not comply with the Laws of the Game,
the Assistant Referee or the Fourth Official can ask the player to
adjust his equipment - or they can inform the Referee, who will take the
During situations where more than one substitution is taking place
simultaneously, special care should be taken to ensure that each
substitution is completed correctly. It is very easy to get muddled-up
when players are leaving and entering the field of play at the same
time; or when a player has received a red card just prior to a
substitution request being made. A player who has been sent-off by the
Referee, cannot be replaced by a substitute - that team will have to
play with one less player.
Teams have a right to make substitutions in their own time, but must not
waste time by bringing a substitute onto the touchline just as play is
about to restart. The team officials and the match officials must work
together to complete the substitution process as quickly and efficiently
- Be prepared to deal with substitution requests at any time
during the game. Organize and control all substitutions at all
- Check that the substitutes have been named on the official
listings before being allowed onto the field of play. If both
teams are making substitutions at the same time, keep the
substitutes on their respective technical area sides.
- Monitor substitutes when they are warming up - particularly if
they are near (or interfering with) one of the Assistant
- Prevent and deal with anyone (particularly substitutes) who
interferes with the match officials.
3. Changing the Goalkeeper:
Any player (including an unused
substitute) is allowed to change places with the goalkeeper, provided
- The Referee is informed before any change to goalkeeper is
made. If a change to the goalkeeper is made without informing the
Referee, the Referee should caution both players during the next
stoppage in play.
Change of goalkeeper must be made during a stoppage time and can be made
by another player or an unused substitute. Players are not allowed to
change places with the goalkeeper whilst the ball is in play.
- The Referee’s permission to actually change goalkeepers is not
required. In other words, a team Captain does not have to seek the
Referee's permission if he (the Captain) wants to change his goalkeeper.
Kicks from the Penalty Mark:
- A goalkeeper who is injured while kicks are being taken from the penalty
mark and is unable to continue as goalkeeper may be replaced by a named
substitute provided his team has not used the maximum number of
substitutes permitted under the competition rules
- With the exception of the foregoing case, only players who are on the field of play at the end
of the match, which includes extra time where appropriate, are allowed
to take kicks from the penalty mark
- When a team finishes the match with a greater number of players than
their opponents, they shall reduce their numbers to equate with that of
their opponents and inform the referee of the name and number of each
player excluded. The team captain has this responsibility.
- Before the start of kicks from the penalty mark the Referee shall ensure
that only an equal number of players from each team remain within the
center circle and they shall take the kicks.
4. Infringements & Sanctions:
If a substitute enters the field
of play without the Referee being informed:
- Play is stopped
- The substitute is cautioned, shown the yellow card and required
to leave the field of play
- Play is restarted with a dropped ball at the place it was
located when play was stopped
If a team willfully uses more than 11 players, the Referee should stop
play, caution the last man on, remove this additional player and restart
with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped.
If the Assistant Referee notices any infringements (e.g. illegal
substitute entering the field of play - incorrect number of payers on
the field of play etc. then he should signal, and inform the Referee
If a player changes places with
the goalkeeper without the Referee
being informed before the change is
- Play continues
- The players concerned are cautioned and shown the yellow card
when the ball is next out of play
For any other infringements of
- The players concerned are cautioned and shown the yellow card
Restart of play
If play is stopped by the Referee
to administer a caution:
- The match is restarted by an indirect free kick, to be taken by
a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was when
play was stopped
For any other infringements of players coming on the field of play with
Referee’s permission BUT wrong in Law (example, a player who had already
been substituted coming back on). If play is stopped to allow Referee to
administer a caution, restart with Indirect Free Kick to opposing side
from place where ball was when play was stopped.
Players and Substitutes Sent Off
- A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be
replaced only by one of the named substitutes. Play must not be unduly
delayed waiting for the named substitute to enter. If the substitute is
not ready to enter immediately, the Referee should start play, and allow
the substitute to come on during the next stoppage when the substitute
has prepared himself for entry.
- A named substitute who has been sent off, either before the
kick-off or after play has started, may not be replaced. In other words,
if the Referee sends-off a substitute before the match starts - no
replacement substitute is allowed to make up the maximum allowed
5. Decisions of the International FA Board:
Subject to the overriding conditions of Law 3, the minimum
number of players in a team is left to the discretion of National
Associations. The Board is of the opinion however, that a match should
not continue if there are fewer than seven players in either team.
A team official may convey tactical instructions to the
players during the match and he must return to his position immediately
after giving these instructions. All officials must remain within the
confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided, and they
must behave in a responsible manner.
6. Technical Area:
A team official may convey tactical instructions to the players during
the match and must return to his position after doing so. All team
officials must remain within the confines of the
where such an area is provided and they must behave in a responsible
Different team officials during the match provided the person returns to
his or her position after giving these instructions and behaves in a
responsible manner may give tactical instructions.
Only one person at a time should be allowed to convey instructions.
For more details see the
Technical Area page.
7. Misconduct by Club Officials:
If Team Officials are coaching in an irresponsible manner, which
interferes with the conduct of the match, the Assistant Referee can warn
the Team Officials. If the situation gets out-of-hand, the Assistant
Referee must signal to the Referee - who is then responsible for taking
necessary action or sending in any reports along with the Assistant
Referee. The Referee can order Team Officials to remove themselves away
from the vicinity of the field of play. Action against Team Officials
should normally be taken during a natural stoppage in play. Of course,
the Referee can take direct action against misbehaving Team Officials
themselves (without recourse to the Assistant Referees help). If a
Fourth Official is present, the Referee may delegate the responsibility
for managing the Technical Area to the Fourth Official. See the Fourth
Official page for more detail on how this is achieved.
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Questions and Answers:
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opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official
interpretations of the Laws of the Game. Although the content of the
latest Laws are included on this site, the majority of the content is
the opinion of the Webmaster and other Referees worldwide. If you need
an official ruling you should contact your local
representative/association or visit the FIFA, or the English FA web
sites for the Laws themselves.
Questions and Answers:
Part 1: Substitution type questions and answers:
Substitution Question 1: As a
player is leaving the field of play to be replaced by a substitute - he
swears loudly at the Referee before he has left the field of play, and
before the replacement substitution has entered the field - what action
should the Referee take?
Substitution Answer 1: Send-off
the swearing player. The oncoming substitute is not allowed to replace
the swearing player who was sent-off. In other words, the team is
reduced to 10 players before the substitution has taken place.
Law 3 states that the Referee is to be informed before any proposed
substitution is made. Oncoming substitutes should only enter the field
of play when the player being substituted has left. And after the
oncoming player has received a signal from the Referee to enter the
field of play.
The Referee must be very careful to only have 11 players from each side
on the field of play at the same time. Having 11 players to contend with
is bad enough, but if a situation arose when the Referee allowed the
oncoming substitute to enter the field of play before the outgoing
substitute had left, then any disciplinary problems become very
complicated. For example, if the oncoming substitute in the above
example had actually stepped onto the field of play before the outgoing
player had left, who would be the bona-fide 11th team player - the
player being substituted, or the player coming on? Law 3 does state that
a substitute becomes a player as soon as he enters the field of play -
BUT - it also states that a team must consist of no more than 11
players! *If both players are on the field of play and both players then
swear at the Referee, which one does the Referee send off, and which one
should he report - or should he send-off both players? If he has to send
off both players: is the team allowed to put on a replacement substitute
or not? The possibilities are endless. It can sometimes be very
difficult for Referees at local 'Park' level (where there is no defined
technical area) to prevent substitutes coming on prematurely from all
areas of the touchline. My advice is to, at least try and educate
players, and order offending oncoming substitutes to get back off the
field of play to await the departure of the outgoing player and your
proper signal before they can come onto the field of play.
If the situation *above ever did arise (where both the players above
swear at the Referee) then the Referee should send-off the outgoing
player, AND send-off the oncoming player (Law 3 - all substitutes are
subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the Referee, whether called
upon to play or not) - in other words, the Referee can yellow or red
card substitutes regardless of whether or not they are on the field of
play - both the players and the substitutes can be disciplined by the
Referee. Once again, this means that the team is permanently reduced to
10 players (and minus the one substitute).
Substitution Question 2:
During a 'friendly game' where unlimited substitutions are allowed, the
Referee informed the teams that he wished to be notified if a change of
goalkeeper is made during half time. It was noticed during the game,
that the Referee did not take much notice of oncoming and outgoing
outfield player substitutions - so why should the Referee be over
particular about any goalkeeper changes at half time?
Substitution Answer 2: Law 3
states that during friendly matches, the teams concerned can reach an
agreement about the maximum number of substitutes. This allows the teams
some flexibility in the number of substitutes permitted.
Even though this is a friendly game, the Referee should still adhere to
Law 3, and must be informed before ANY substitution is made (including
outfield players and goalkeeper changes). The reason why this particular
Referee was only interested in the goalkeeper change may be because he
did not wish to be seen as overly officious. It is unsporting for teams
not to inform the Referee of substitution changes throughout the game -
If a player does change places with the goalkeeper - without the Referee
being informed - the Referee could caution the two changing players when
the ball is next out of play. But I don't suppose the players would have
done it on purpose, with the sole aim of cheating the opposition. This
is where Law 18 - Common sense comes into play. This is a friendly
match, and being over officious could turn it into a 'not quite so
friendly' match. The Referee should just have a quiet word with the
perpetrators. This is important at the lower (and youth) levels of
football, it allows players to learn good habits which will stand them
in 'good stead' should they someday play in the higher leagues. I'm a
great believer in Referees quietly educating players - after all, have
you ever come across a player who actually knows all of the Laws?
Substitution Question 3: Why
is it that some players are allowed to receive treatment on the field of
play, and are then allowed to remain on the field of play when play
restarts, and other injured players are told by the Referee to leave the
field of play for treatment. This can be very frustrating for fans, and
can appear unfair if your player is told to leave the field of play
after treatment, and the opposition player is allowed to stay on.
Substitution Answer 3: (also
see Serious Injury web page). Apart from players having to leave the
field of play for bleeding injuries, and stopping play to allow (or
insist) that an injured player be removed (see Law 5), there is no
further mention in the Laws of any procedure to be used after players
have been treated on the field of play during a stoppage.
A decision taken by the International F.A. Board (FIFA) in 1998/1999
"Method of injured players leaving the field of play" stipulated that:
... If an injured player was able to walk off the field of play, he
should be encouraged to do so, especially if close to the boundary lines
(it is therefore unnecessary to carry him off the field of play on a
stretcher in these circumstances. When returning to the field of play,
an injured player can enter the field from any point on the boundary
lines if the ball is pout of play. If the ball is in play, the player
may only re-enter the field of play from the touchline. In each case, he
must await the Referee's signal".
This above does not really answer the question - it has been noticed
recently, that within the very high levels of football, players who have
been treated on the field of play by 'bench personnel' are always asked
to leave the field of play by the Referee, and are only allowed to
re-enter on the Referee's signal. (The Referee will normally immediately
wave players back on, once play has restarted). Injured players who have
not received treatment from the 'bench personnel' are not asked to leave
the field of play. At the lower levels there seems to be more common
sense used when dealing with treated players - they are normally allowed
to remain on the field of play when play is restarted. I do not know
what the definitive answer is, there seems to be 'a Law for the rich,
and another for the poor'. The only consistent factor is that
goalkeepers are always allowed to stay on the field after being treated
- this is generally accepted throughout football. Because of the
substitution problems created when a goalkeeper is forced to leave the
field, Referees usually allow the goalkeeper to be treated on the field
of play. With injured or bleeding outfield players, a team can easily
adjust for a few minutes or so, whilst the outfield player receives
treatment off the field of play - and this does not normally have an
effect on the outcome of a game. Teams are not permitted to play without
a goalkeeper, so the game cannot commence until the goalkeeper is fit.
To summarize: injured goalkeepers are generally allowed (by Referees) to
be treated on the field of play whilst outfield players are normally
treated off the field of play when possible.
Referees should use their Powers (Law 5) to prevent players and coaches
from tactical time wasting by players feigning injury. There may be
occasions where a truly injured player may feel disgruntled by being
asked to leave the field of play after treatment, but Referees should
apply a consistent procedure to all cases to ensure fair play.
My advice is to at least be consistent.
A FIFA Law 5 amendment in the 1997/1998 season, stipulated that all
bleeding players (including goalkeepers) must leave the field of play
for treatment and are not allowed to return until the Referee is
satisfied that the bleeding is stopped (players can return during play
or during a natural stoppage on the Referees signal). The reasoning
behind this, is due to the concerns of blood-carried viruses, namely the
AIDS virus, it was deemed advisable that the Laws were adjusted to take
into account these genuine concerns. Referees are not doctors (but there
may be one or two!) and must make judgments to determine whether the
player is still bleeding or if the bleeding stopped? Err on the side of
caution, and insist on bleeding players leaving the field of play
immediately (during play or during a stoppage). Referees should keep a
close eye on returning players and re-evaluate the injury to ensure that
proper treatment or bandaging has been applied to enable that player to
continue the game without a reoccurrence of the bleeding.
Substitution Question 4:
Whilst the opposition player was taking a corner-kick, the defending
team captain asks the Referee for a substitution to be made. The Referee
refused (or ignored his request) is he allowed doing this?
Substitution Answer 4: The regulations covering substitution can be
found in Law 3. In normal circumstances, the Referee would have allowed
the substation to take place during a stoppage such as the taking of the
corner kick. BUT the Referee will need to be aware of players asking for
a substation to be made with the sole purpose of disrupting the flow of
play (this is usually done if the team are winning 1-0 and there are
only seconds to go in the game). During the taking of a corner kick, the
Referee needs to be very alert during the preparation and taking of the
corner kick. In this instance, it can only be assumed that the corner
kick taker was in the process of actually taking the kick, and to stop
play then would have resulted in all sorts of problems for the Referee.
I have had players asking for a substitution to be made, whilst the ball
is in flight from a corner kick - and this does effect concentration. On
one occasion, a goal was scored, and the defending team for not allowing
the substitution to take place berated me. Tough! - The Referee is the
authority on when a substitution can be made, and it can only be made at
the proper time. Conversely, if an attacker is still arranging placement
of the ball for a corner kick, then of course, the Referee has plenty of
time to blow his whistle to indicate that a substitution is to be made
before the corner takes place.
Substitution Question 5: During a game, it was notice that as a player
passed the technical area he switches places with a substitute who was
sitting on the bench. The Referee was then seen to have words with the
manager before showing a yellow card to both of the players involved. Is
the Referee correct in his action? Why should the player coming on
receive a yellow card also, when he was enticed to come on by the
Substitute Answer 5: The Referee was totally justified in cautioning
both of the players involved. Law 3 states that a substitute is
cautioned and shown the yellow card if he enters the field of play
without the Referee's permission. Law 12 states that a player is
cautioned if he deliberately leaves the field of play without the
Referee's permission. In this instance, both Laws 3 and 12 were
infringed, and the yellow cards administered to each of the players
involved was justified. If the Laws are to be strictly adhered to 'by
the book' - then two yellow cards should always be given.
Note: If the outgoing player was injured, the Referee may decide to
evoked Law 18 Common sense, and show some leniency towards players. In
this case, taking the 'spirit of the game' into consideration, * the
Referee may decide to have strong words with both players, rather than
apply the 'letter of the Law'. Players do not normally try and cheat by
entering or leaving the field of play without the Referees permission.
It is usually because they do not know the Laws, or that an injury means
that rational thought is temporarily impaired.
I must own up here, I am a great believer in Law 18 -Common sense, and
have taken the * latter option on several occasions.
Substitution Question 6: Is a substitution allowed to be made when the
other team is taking a goal kick or a corner kick or a throw in?
Substitution Answer 6: (see also my substitution question no. 4 above).
Law 3 states that substitutions can be made during any stoppage in the
match (including during additional time added on by the Referee at the
end of a game). Therefore, substitutes can be made during any dead ball
situations such as, when the other team is taking a goal kick or a
corner kick or a throw in - so long as the Referee has granted his
Modifications were made in the 1999/2000 Laws covering substitutions in
respect of players of under 16 years of age, for women footballers and
for veteran footballers (over 35 years) and for players with
disabilities - giving the right to allow flying substitutions (but only
with the agreement of the national associations. 'Flying substitutions'
are when substitutes are allowed to take place whilst play is still in
motion - so long as the Referee has signaled, and that the incoming
substitute does not enter the field of play until the outgoing
substitute has left.
A goalkeeper may change places with an outfield player at anytime during
the match - provided it is done during a stoppage in play and the
Referee has given his permission.
Substitution Question No.7: During a game, a substitute enters the field
of play without the Referee's permission and immediately and
deliberately handles the ball on the field of play near the touchline.
The Referee blows his whistle to stop the game. (a) How should the
Referee restart the game, indirect free kick, or a direct free kick for
hand ball, or should the restart be with a dropped ball? (b) What action
should the Referee take against the perpetrator?
Substitution Answer No.7:
The correct decision by the 'letter of the Law' (assuming that
any outgoing player had already left the field of play with the
Referee's permission, and play had recommenced - but the Referee had not
yet granted permission for the substitute to enter the field of play) is
for the Referee to firstly stop play, caution the player for entering
without the Referee's permission (Law 12), and then administer a
sending-off for receiving a second caution in the same match for
unsporting behavior Law 12 (for deliberately handling the ball) - albeit
that Referees will normally only issue one caution in such
When two offences are committed at the same time (as in this case),
Referees should always restart play for the more serious foul/misconduct
committed - and in this case the handball is more serious than a player
entering the field of play without the Referees permission. The restart
in this case (assuming that the ball was in play when the offence
occurred) should be a direct free kick to the opposing team, to be taken
the place where the player handled the ball. If the deliberate handball
occurred in the player's own penalty area, then a penalty should be
awarded to the opposing team.
If the substitute came onto the field of play before the
outgoing (substituted) player had left, this would be deemed as an
illegal substitution. In this case, the oncoming substitute would not
have yet been a bona-fide player, and can only be disciplined once
(shown the yellow card) for entering the field of play without the
Referee's permission - he could not then be issued a second caution for
the handball (because he was not yet a legal player). In this instance,
if the ball was still in play - the game would be restarted with a
dropped ball (Law 5 Referees Powers "suspends a match because of outside
interference" & Law 8 "A dropped ball is a way of restarting a match
after a temporary stoppage which becomes necessary, whilst the ball is
in play for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game")
in this case, encroachment onto the field of play by the substitute,
before the outgoing player had left the field of play. Apart from when
the rules allow for flying substitutions - when a substitution is being
made, it should always be made during a natural stoppage in play. And in
such cases, the restart would be the natural restart - goal kick,
throw-in etc. It is therefore a bit of a daft question, because as
aforementioned - play would normally have naturally stopped to make a
substitution - and in such cases, handling the ball whilst play is
stopped is not an offence!!!
It could be argued that if the ball was in play when the offence
occurred - handling the ball on the field of play in 'Case 2' above
could easily be construed as a second caution able offence for this
player for unsporting behavior (not for the hand-ball itself, because
only a legal player - and not a substitute - can be guilty of handling
the ball) but for disrupting play, which could be seen as a second
yellow card. In this case, this person is still a substitute, and the
second yellow card (sending-off) means that his team can still play with
eleven players, but that they would be minus one substitute (Law 3 - a
substitute sent-off after play has been started, cannot be replaced). In
short - it was the substitute and not a player who received the red
card. (One yellow for entering without the Referees permission, and a
second yellow for interfering with play… SEND OFF!!!).
The easiest solution, and the most obvious, is to remember that
substitutions MUST be made during a natural stoppage in play - therefore
the situation mentioned in this question could (or should) never happen.
It was a daft question after all!!!!!
Substitution Question No. 8: During a substitution authorized by the
Referee, the outgoing player walks off the field of play. The oncoming
substitute, leaves the technical area, and before entering the field of
play, picks the ball up which has gone out near the technical area for a
throw-in, and proceeds to throw the ball in correctly to his colleague
on the field of play. This colleague, then turns and lobs the ball over
the defending goalkeeper and into the net for a goal. Is this a legal
goal, and what action should the Referee take to restart play?
Substitution Answer No. 8: Law 3 states that a substitution is completed
when a substitute enters the field of play; from that moment, the
substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced ceases to be
a player. As the oncoming substitute did not enter the field of play, he
is not yet a legal player, and as such is not permitted to take the
throw-in. The goal should not be allowed. Although this is a technical
violation of the Law 3, it is not really intentional cheating on the
part of the oncoming substitute. The Referee should not therefore make
more of the incident than is necessary, and a caution is not necessary
in this situation.
The retaking of the throw-in by a legal player -which in this case could
be the oncoming substitute - so long as he steps onto the field of play
before he steps off again to take the throw should restart the game! The
Referee may need to add time on at the end of the half to compensate for
the time lost in retaking the throw-in correctly.
Substitution Question No. 9: What is the correct procedure for
substituting one of my players?
Substitution Answer 9: The Referee's or Assistant Referees' (or the
Fourth Official in matches where there is one) attention must firstly be
obtained, and there are several methods of doing this - shouting,
waving, talking etc....
Make it clear to the officials that you want to make a substitution. The
match official will then attract the Referee’s attention during the next
stoppage in play. The Referee will then give his permission for your
substitution to be made. Someone (the manager/coach/captain/match
official will then identify and notify the player who is to come off.
The substitute must not enter the field of play until the outgoing
player has left. The oncoming player must enter at the halfway line
during a stoppage in play, and on the Referees signal.
Substitution Question No. 10: Can a substitute can be sent off without
ever getting onto the field of play?
Substitution Answer No. 10: Yes. Law 3 clearly states that all
substitutes are subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the
Referee, whether they are called on to play or not. Substitutes AND
players must behave themselves in a reasonable manner. They must also
refrain from offences such as dissent or offensive language. Substitutes
who are warming up near Assistant Referees very often can't resist in
throwing a pleasant comment or two, if they happen to disagree with any
decisions made by the match officials. If a substitute misbehaves for
any reason before becoming a player in the game, and is sent-off by the
Referee, then that substitute is not allowed to be replaced on the bench
by another person/substitute. Substitutes' names must be given to the
Referee at the start of play - teams are not permitted to add another
name to the substitute listing, just because one of their substitutes
gets sent-off. Nevertheless, teams can still field their normal
complement of players (for example, they will not have to play with a
Substitution Question No. 11: During a match, a substitute ran onto the
field of play and spat at an opponent. What action should the Referee
Substitution Answer 11: Show a red card to the substitute, and restart
play with a dropped ball at the place where the ball was when play was
Substitution Question No. 12: If before the start of a game, a player is
replaced by a named substitute, without the Referee being informed,
should this substitute be allowed to continue in game?
Substitution Answer No. 12: The player should be cautioned for entering
the field of play without the Referee's permission. He should be allowed
to continue in the game.
Substitution Question No. 13: If a player refuses to be substituted,
what action can the Referee take?
Substitution Answer No. 13: None. The Referee is not responsible for
deciding who should play and who should not. Play should continue. Apart
from seeking help from the Captain of the team involved, there is not
much the Referee can do.
Substitution Question No. 14: If an unnamed illegal substitute is
allowed to enter the field of play by the Referee, and that substitute
then scores a goal. What should the Referee do if ten minutes later he
realizes his mistake?
Substitution Answer No. 14: Oh dear, this really is a mess.
The Referee has the following options:
- (a) Abandon the Game.
- (b) Ask the illegal player to leave the field of play and allow the goal
to stand, and finish the game in normal time. And after the game, report
the facts to the appropriate authorities.
- (c) Ask the illegal player to leave the field of play and disallow the
goal, and start the game at the stage when the illegal player came on
(if you can remember the exact moment!). And after the game, report the
facts to the appropriate authorities.
- (d) Caution the illegal player, allow him to stay on and continue with
the game, and allow the goal to stand. And after the game, report the
facts to the appropriate authorities.
- (e) Caution the illegal player, allow him to stay on and continue with
the game, and disallow the goal. And after the game, report the facts to
the appropriate authorities.
(f) Do nothing and allow the game to continue as if nothing had
Mmmmmmmmmm there is no easy answer. Because the Referee had restarted
the game after the goal had been scored, then by Law, the goal should
remain. If it was me - as soon as I realized my mistake, I would abandon
the game - and report the facts to the appropriate authorities. Doing
anything else at this stage of the game will undoubtedly compound the
problem and make it much worse.
If the Referee only realizes
his mistake after the match has finished,
then he should report the
facts to the appropriate authorities.
And then take a long
Substitution Question No. 15:
As an outgoing player leaves the field of play during a substitution,
the oncoming substitute - who has not yet entered the field of play -
strikes an opponent who is standing on the touchline. What action should
the Referee take?
Substitution Answer No. 15: The
Referee should send-off the oncoming substitute for violent conduct. The
outgoing player (the one being substituted) may be allowed to return
back into play - because the substitution had not been completed. The
outgoing player can be substituted by another eligible substitute.
Substitution Question No. 16:
Law 3 states that if a substitute enters the field of play without the
Referee’s permission: play is stopped; the substitute is cautioned,
shown the yellow card and required to leave the field of play; play is
restarted with a dropped ball at the place it was located when play was
But Law 3 also says, if play is stopped by the Referee to administer a
caution: the match is restarted by an indirect free kick, to be taken by
a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was located
when play was stopped. The law seems to contradict here. When is a
dropped used to start the match and/or when is an indirect free kick
Substitution Answer No. 16: A
dropped ball (see Law 8) is always the restart whenever the Referee has
stopped play due to outside interference, or for any other offence not
specifically mentioned in the Laws. A substitute (or anybody else) who
enters the field of play without the Referee’s permission – is an
"outside interference"". I.e., the substitute is not yet a legal player
– hence the dropped ball restarts.
If the Referee has to stop play to administer a caution to a (legal)
player (this usually happens during play when a player shows ‘dissent by
word’ to the Referee) then it would be unfair to penalize the
non-offending team by awarding a dropped ball restart – hence the
correct restart in this case, is to only penalize the offending player’s
team, by awarding an indirect free kick against them.
In short – a dropped ball is the restart when play has been stopped by
the Referee for outside interference (i.e. encroachment onto the field
of play by a non-legal substitute, manager, coach, spectator or dog
etc.) An indirect free kick is awarded against a (legal) player for an
infringement occurring whilst the ball is still in play.
Substitution Question No. 17:
Can a player who has been substituted be shown a card?
Answer 17: Yes: Law 12 states:
“Only a player or substitute or substituted player may be shown the red
or yellow card”.
Substitution Question 18: Can
a team consist of 11 outfield players and no goalkeeper?
Answer 18: The answer is NO.
Law 3 (The Number of players) clearly states:
"A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more that eleven
players one of whom is the goalkeeper."
But if you think about it - as soon as a goalkeeper comes out of his
penalty area, he becomes another outfield player. It is only when he is
inside his penalty area that he has special privileges (e.g. he is
allowed to handle the ball). There is nothing to stop a team say, in the
last minute of a game, substituting their goalkeeper with one of their
top strikers who just happens to be an unused substitute on the bench.
The top striker then officially becomes the goalkeeper for his team –
who can (if he so wishes) go up for the last corner in the hope of
getting a winning goal for his team.
Substitute Question 19: If
during play, a goalkeeper changes position with a substitute goalkeeper
from bench, without informing the Referee, what action should the
Substitute Answer 19: The
Referee should caution the two changing players when the ball is next
out of play. In theory, the Referee could caution the substitute
goalkeeper and the goalkeeper twice – 1st caution for entering or
leaving the field of play respectively, and 2nd caution (leading to a
sending-off) for changing without informing the Referee. But in this
case, one caution for should suffice.
Law 3 general questions and answers:
What do you think?
General Question No. 1: A game
had already started and the Referee decides to double check the number
of players during a lull in play - and notices that there are only 10
players in one of the teams. What should the Referee do?
General Answer No. 1: Assuming that
the Referee had counted the 11 players of both teams at the start of
play, then one of the players must have left the field of play without
the Referees permission. The Referee should wait until the ball goes out
of play, and then summon the captain to try and identify the
circumstances of the missing player. When the missing player has been
identified, the Referee can caution that player for leaving the field of
play without his permission. But of course, use your common sense. It is
not normal for players to purposefully leave the field of play without
informing the Referee. Whether you caution the player or not, depends
very much on the circumstances. For example, you would not caution a
player who has quickly left the field of play because he is about to be
violently sick - even though you would be in your rights to do so.
If the Referee suddenly realizes that there are 12 players on the field
of play, then he's in real trouble. If you can identify the time that
the extra player entered the field of play, then common sense tells you
that the extra player should be cautioned for entering the field of play
without your permission, and play restarted at the time the extra player
joined his colleagues. Any goals scored within that period will not
count BUT any cautions or sending-off carried out in that period will
count. If the period that the extra player has been on the field of play
cannot be determined, and goals have been scored, then the Referee
should cut his losses and abandon the game.
In a Season 1999/2000 game in the English Nation-wide 1st Division, an
extra player entered the field of play during a mix-up of substitutions
5 minutes from time. This extra player was only on the field of play for
about two minutes. It was in the last 5 minutes of an important game.
The score did not change - but the extra player headed away a promising
free kick delivered into his penalty area. Once the Referee had noticed
the extra player, the extra player was asked to leave. The Referee then
allowed play to conclude three minutes later. The Referee could have
restarted play showing 5 minutes remaining (the time remaining at that
point when the substation mix-up occurred), and not 3 (as it would have
been in normal play circumstances). And all this happened with some of
the most experience Referees in the country officiating. A Fourth
Official was also involved. An appeal was launched by one of the teams,
on the basis, that if the extra player had not been on the field of
play, the outcome of the free kick into the penalty area might well have
had a different conclusion. Common sense prevailed, and considering the
time remaining in the game, the investigation decided to let the result
stand. This just goes to show how easy it is for any Referee to make a
General Question No. 2: Just before a penalty kick is about to be taken, the
defending team decides to change their goalkeeper with one of the
outfield players. Once the penalty kick has finished, the defending team
then places the original goalkeeper back in goal, and the replacement
goalkeeper reverts to his outfield position. Is this allowed?
General Answer No. 2: As long as the Referee has been informed of both of
the changes to the goalkeeper, and the change is made during a stoppage
in the game (which it was in this case) - then it is allowed.
The Referee will need to add time on for any minutes lost during the
changes to the goalkeeper. The taking of a penalty kick is a normal part
of the game, and therefore, the defending teams are within their rights
to change the goalkeeper with an outfield player before the penalty kick
Note: It is also permissible (providing that the full quota of
substitutes has not been used up) for a team to bring on a substitute
goalkeeper from the bench, to replace the existing goalkeeper before the
penalty kick is taken. This is technically correct, because
substitutions may be completed at any stoppage during the game
(including a penalty kick) with the permission of the Referee.
General Question No. 3: Does the goalkeeper have to stay in his penalty area
during the game, or is he allowed to go where he likes?
General Answer No. 3: The goalkeeper has to wear a different colored jersey
to that worn by the other players and the Referees He also has special
laws (like being allowed to handle the ball in his penalty area)
pertaining to himself whilst he is in his penalty area. Most Referees
also afford him special protection. Apart from this, the goalkeeper is
essentially just another player, and can go just where he likes and when
he likes. Once the goalkeeper leaves his penalty area, he becomes a
normal outfield player, and as such, is subject to the same Laws as
every other player. A Peruvian national goalkeeper named Chuillvert,
used to take all of his team’s penalty kicks, and was very often seen a
long way out of his penalty area with the ball.
General Question No. 4: At the start of a game, the Red team only had 10
players - the Green team had a full quota of 11 players. In the last ten
minutes of the game, the Green team where winning 0-1. The 11th player
of the Red team eventually arrives at the ground and is allowed onto the
field of play by the Referee. This Red 11th player then proceeds to
score 2 quick goals for his side, and the game ends with the Red team
winning 2-1. Was the Referee correct in allowing the Red 11th player
onto the field of play so late into the game? Should all the eligible
players be present before the start of the match?
General Answer No. 4: The Referee was correct in allowing the Red 11th
player to join his team in the last 10 minutes of the game. Although the
minimum number of players is left to the discretion of the national
associations, a match can proceed (or continue) if there are seven or
more players available. Apart from this, there is no mention in the Laws
to stipulate that a team must have its full quota of players at the
start of the match, or at the start of the second half. Law 3 states
that each team may have a maximum of 11 players, one of which must be a
goalkeeper. Some competition rules stipulate that team sheets are to be
provided to the Referee before the commencement of play. Even in this
case, as long as the Red 11th player was named on the team sheet, he can
enter play at any time. If only ten players were named on the team sheet
at the start of the match, then this player is not allowed into the game
(because his name did not appear on the team sheet). As long as the
player is an official member of the team, then they can arrive (and
enter play) at any time during the game.
Note: A team does not have to play with fewer players just because the
other team has fewer players. It might be a sporting thing to do, but
teams are under no obligation to do so.
Managers will never reduce the number of players on their team to match
the other team.
Although it is not uncommon in friendly matches for one team to consider
giving the opposition some of their own players to make up the deficient
Note: If a competition rule states that all players must be named before
kick-of, and a team only names 9 players at the start of the game - but
later in the game two other players turn up - they cannot enter into the
General Question No. 5: during a match, an outfield player replaces the
goalkeeper, without the Referee being informed. Immediately after the
change, the ball is shot towards goal by the opposition, and the
replacement goalkeeper saves the shot with his hands, within his own
penalty area. What action should the Referee take? Should he award a
penalty for handball? Should he caution the new goalkeeper and the old
goalkeeper? Should play be stopped - if so, how should play be
General Answer No. 5: Changes to the goalkeeper are not allowed without the
permission of the Referee. If the goalkeeper is changed without the
Referees acknowledgement, then both the original goalkeeper and the
replacement goalkeeper should be cautioned for unsporting behaviour when
the ball next goes out of play (this is the only infringement that has
actually taken place).
In this instance, the replacement goalkeeper is still deemed under the
Laws to be the goalkeeper by the fact that he is wearing a different
jersey to the other players. Therefore, the Referee cannot penalize the
replacement goalkeeper for handball - because the goalkeeper is allowed
to handle the ball in his own penalty area.
General Question No. 6: During a game where both teams have used up all of
their quota of substitutes, the Red team have two players sent-off for
fighting - thus reducing their number to 9 players. Ten minutes later
two Red defenders are unable to continue playing due to an unfortunate
collision of heads - thus reducing the Red team to 7 players. Twenty
minutes from the end of the game, the Red goalkeeper purposefully denies
an attacker a goal scoring opportunity. What action should the Referee
General Answer No. 6: The Red team only has 7 players left on the field of
play. Although the minimum number of players is left to the discretion
of the national associations, a match can only generally continue when
there is seven or more players in the team. In this instance, the
Referee should send-off the Red team goalkeeper for denying a goal
scoring opportunity. This reduces the Red team to 6 players. The Referee
should then abandon the match and report the fact to the appropriate
league authorities. Competition rules usually stipulate the minimum
number of players allowed - and this is usually 7(seven). FIFA
specifically recommends that minimums of 7 players are required to play
Note: If a team with only 7 players remaining is awarded a penalty kick,
and before the penalty kick is taken, another of their team players is
sent off - the Referee should not allow the penalty to take place. The
match should be abandoned.
Note: If a team is reduced to 7 players, and one of their players gets
injured and requires treatment off the field of play, the Referee should
only abandon the game if that injured player is unable to return into
play. The injured player should be allowed time to be treated whilst the
General Question No. 7:
Immediately following the award of a goal scored from a corner kick, a
defending players points out to the Referee, that the attacking team
have 12 players on the field of play. What action should the Referee
take against the attacking team?
General Answer No. 7:
The Referee will need to ascertain if the additional player was on the
field before the goal was scored, or if the additional player had
entered the field of play after the goal was scored. If the additional
player had been present before the goal was scored, then the goal should
be disallowed. The corner kick should be retaken, and the additional
player/substitute should be cautioned for entering the field of play
without the Referee's permission, and asked to leave. If the additional
player had entered the field of play after the goal was scored, then the
goal is legal. The additional player should be cautioned and asked to
leave the field of play before play can be restarted with a center
circle place kick..
If the additional player had entered the field of play after receiving
the Referee's permission but the player they were substituting had not
left before the corner was taken, then the Referee is at fault for
starting play prematurely. In this instance, the players should not be
given a yellow card; this should be awarded to the Referee! Under no
circumstances should a goal be awarded if there are more than 11 players
in one team on the field of play.
General Question No. 8: In some tournaments, teams will purposefully lose a
game to guarantee themselves an easier second-round or final-round
opponent. Is there anything that the Referee can do about this?
General Answer No. 8: Not much. Teams may be able to protest to the
tournament organizers, but there is not much the Referee can do apart
from reporting any unsporting conduct by the coach if he has been openly
seen instructing his players to purposefully lose the game, or to score
on their own net, or to feign injury so as to lessen the number of
players in the team. Most will take a very dim view of this sort of
behavior. The Referee is there to ensure that players adhere to the
Laws; there is not much he can do if a team purposefully tries to lose a
game. Most teams are also skilful enough to make it look as though they
did NOT lose a game on purpose - so it is very difficult for the Referee
to decide whether or not 'cheating' tactics have been used. It has been
noticed at major tournaments such as the World Cup, or European
Championships, that teams who have already qualified for the next round,
purposefully put out a reserve team in the last game of their qualifying
group. Sometimes this is done to protect their 'star' players, and
sometimes to ensure a position in a weaker next round group, by coming
second in their qualifying group instead of first. It would be very
difficult to prove - and they are not really breaking any competition
rules. They are using gamesmanship nonetheless!
General Question No. 9: If the Referee sends-off player during
half-time, for spitting at an opponent in the changing room, is that
team then allowed to replace the 'spitting' player, because the offence
happened outside of the game itself, and during the half-time interval?
General Answer No. 9: No. The half-time interval is deemed as part of the
game itself. Therefore, disciplinary action is no different to that
taken during the course of the game itself. If a player is sent-off
during the halftime interval, then that team will not be allowed to
replace that offending player - and the team must play the second half
with one player short.
General Question No. 10: When a player who has a yellow card to his
credit is walking off the field of play at half time (whistle has
sounded to end the first half, and the players are headed to the
dressing room or standing outside the field of play) turns to the
Referee and gives reason for the Referee to show him a 2nd yellow card -
thus a red card and a sending-off; does the team play a man down at the
start of the second half?
General Answer No. 10: Clarification of this was deleted from the 1997/1998
Law re-write - but yes, in terms of dealing with indiscipline, half-time
is deemed to be part of the game, so any action that the Referee takes
at half-time such as sending off a player, is no different to that
player being sent of in the first or second half periods. If a player is
sent off in the half time period - that player's team is reduced to 10
players for the second half. Prior to the Law rewrite in 1997/1998, the
following wording appeared in Law 3 (Number of players) "A player who
has been ordered off after play has been started may not be replaced".
In fact, this wording (although obvious to most) is an essential missing
part of the current Law 3 wording. Some months ago, I pointed this error
out to our UK Referees Association, and they are currently contacting
the English FA for consultation and clarification on this matter. I
believe that a change is required, because the current Laws do not
actually state that a player who has been ordered off after play has
been started may not be replaced. As the Laws stand at the moment, this
missing element may confuse those who are new to the game. In other
words, there is nothing in the actual Laws, to stop another player
replacing a player who has been sent off! But of course, we all know
that when a player is sent-off, he is not allowed to be replaced (and
this includes half-time periods, or periods between full-time and
General Question No. 11: Can a goalkeeper take a throw-in, corner,
penalty kick or a free kick outside of his penalty area?
General Answer No. 11: No. Yes, the goalkeeper is a player of his team, and
as such can take these actions.
General Question No. 12: It was noticed in a match, that a player
sent-off by the Referee, walked over to the technical area and sat down
throughout the match on the bench. Is this correct?
General Answer Number 12: No. A player sent-off should return to the
dressing room. He is not allowed to stay in the technical area, or near
the close vicinity of the field of play.
General Question No. 13: Just how many people are allowed to give
instructions from the technical area?
General Answer No 13: Only one person at a time from each team (within
the technical area) is allowed to convey instructions to players on the
field of play. They may move forward to give the instructions, but once
these instructions have been completed, they must return to the
designated seated area. They may stand beside the seated area - and must
behave in a responsible manner. Different team officials during the
match provided the person returns to his or her position after giving
these instructions and behaves in a responsible manner may give tactical
Only one person at a time should be allowed to convey instructions.
General Question No. 14: Are players who are sent-off allowed to be
General Answer No. 14: A player sent from the field of play (under Law 12),
after the game has commenced may not be replaced (i.e. that team must
continue the remainder of the match with one less player).
A player who has been sent off (under Law 12) before the kick off may be
replaced by one of the named substitutes.
A substitute sent off (under Law 12) either before the kick off or after
play has started is not allowed to be replaced, but this does not alter
the number of players his team may have on the field of play. For
example, if there are three substitutes sitting in the technical area,
and one of the substitutes is sent-off, the team is only allowed to make
a maximum of two substitutions during the remainder of the game.
General Question No. 15: Can the Referee refuse to allow a player to
participate in a game, if an opponent tells the Referee that the player
is banned and should not be playing?
Answer No. 15. The Team who the (supposed illegal) player belongs to is
ultimately responsible for only playing legal players. The player
himself is also morally responsible for not cheating. If the opposing
team thinks that a player is illegal, then they should report the fact
to the appropriate League authority after the game has finished. The
Referee is not responsible for checking the legality of the player –
nevertheless, if he feels that a player is illegal, he should report
this to the League after the game. A quiet word with the team Captain
(or the player himself) may clear up any misunderstandings. It is
impossible to confirm the legality of a suspicious player before or
during a game. The only thing one can do is to report any concerns after
the game has finished. It is then up to the appropriate League to
investigate the facts.
General Question No. 16: If a player who is in possession of the ball,
runs just outside of the touchline in a move to pass an opponent, should
this player be cautioned for leaving the field of play without the
General Answer No. 16: Play should not allowed to continue because going
outside the field of play may be considered a part of playing movement,
but players are expected - as a general rule - to try and remain on the
field of play.
What do you think?