This Video from the... Ken Aston Referee Society -
Where's your..... pair? & What
color do you wear on which arm? --- Think about it!!!
DECISIONS OF THE INTERNATIONAL F.A.
1.A referee (or where applicable,
an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for:
- Any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator
- Any damage to property of any kind
- Any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association
or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision which he
may take under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the
normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match.
This may include:
- A decision that the condition of the field of play or its surrounds or
that the weather conditions are such as to allow or not to allow a match
to take place
- A decision to abandon a match for whatever reason
- A decision as to the condition of the fixtures or equipment used
during a match including the goalposts, crossbar, flag posts and the
- A decision to stop or not to stop a match due to spectator
interference or any problem in the spectator area
- A decision to stop or not to stop play to allow an injured player to
be removed from the field of play for treatment
- A decision to request or insist that an injured player be removed from
the field of play for treatment
- A decision to allow or not to allow a player to wear certain apparel
- A decision (in so far as this may be his responsibility) to allow or
not to allow any persons (including team or stadium officials, security
officers, photographers or other media representatives) to be present in
the vicinity of the field of play
- Any other decision which he may take in accordance with the Laws
of the Game or in conformity with his duties under the terms of FIFA,
confederation, national association or league rules or regulations under
which the match is played
In tournaments or competitions where a fourth official is appointed, his
role and duties must be in accordance with the guidelines approved by
the International F.A. Board.
One of the basic premises of the "Spirit of the Game" is that the game
belongs to the players. It is in this view that they (soccer players)
determine what is to be enforced and what is to be overlooked as trivial
or detrimental to their enjoyment of the game.
Misconduct by anyone (including players)
before the Referee steps onto the field of play or
after the end of a match is to be
reported as ‘misconduct’ quoting Law 5.
SENDING-OFFS only apply during the
game itself (including the half-time
You can only ‘caution’ or ‘send-off’
a player (Law 12) from the
moment you step onto the field of play, up to the end of the
match; this includes any half-time or extra-time intervals. For example
- a player sent-off during the half-time interval may not be replaced,
and that team will have to play the rest of the game with one player
A player who has been sent off before the kick-off (that is, between the
period when you step onto the field of play and the start of the match),
can be replaced by a named substitute; the substitute cannot then be
replaced by another person to make up the maximum number of substitutes
allowed for that match. In other words, that team will have one less
substitute, than the maximum number allowed.
A named substitute who has been sent-off, either before play has
started, or after play has started, may not be replaced. In other words,
that team will have one less substitute, than the maximum number
The Referee is a representative of the Football Association and is
therefore responsible for reporting ALL misconduct. This includes
misconduct occurring in periods before, during and after the game,
during any temporary suspensions in play, when the ball is out of play,
whilst walking to/fro the dressing rooms, in the Bar after the game, and
even whilst walking to/from your car or leaving/entering the ground.
2. Law 5 - The Referee: ....what
Law 5 actually says
The Authority of the Referee
Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce
the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been
Powers and Duties
- Enforces the Laws of the Game
- Controls the match in co-operation with the assistant referees and,
where applicable, with the fourth official
- Ensures that any ball meets the requirements of Law 2
- Ensures that the players' equipment meets the requirements of Law 4
- Acts as timekeeper and keeps a record of the match
- Stops, suspends or terminates the match, at his discretion, for any
infringements of the Laws
- Stops, suspends or terminates the match because of outside
interference of any kind
- Stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and
ensures that he is removed from the field of play
- Allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is,
in his opinion, only slightly injured
- Ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of
play. The player may only return on receiving a signal from the referee,
who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped
- Allows play to continue when the team against which an offence has
been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalizes the
original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that
- Punishes the more serious offence when a player commits more than one
offence at the same time
- Takes disciplinary action against players guilty of caution able and
sending-off offences. He is not obliged to take this action immediately
but must do so when the ball next goes out of play
- Takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in
a responsible manner and may at his discretion, expel them from the
field of play and its immediate surrounds
- Acts on the advice of assistant referees regarding incidents which he
has not seen
- Ensures that no unauthorized persons enter the field of play
- Restarts the match after it has been stopped
- Provides the appropriate authorities with a match report which
includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players,
and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before,
during or after the match
Decisions of the Referee
The decisions of the
referee regarding facts connected with play are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect
or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided
that he has not restarted play.
3. Misconduct by players other than
If a player misbehaves himself out side of the game time itself, inform
the offender that a report will be written, and request his name, if
this is refused, ask a Club official, if official refuses to give you
the players name don’t press for further details, just note in your
report that both the player and the official refused to give you details
- the disciplinary secretary will investigate further on your behalf. Do
not risk antagonize by demanding details from players or officials if
they are being awkward, just make sure they know that you will be
reporting their lack of co-operation.
If a disciplined player asks you what you are disciplining him for,
don’t try and explain, you may need to gather your thoughts to compile a
suitable report after the game, just say, " It will be in my report".
The perpetrator will receive a copy in due course.
4. Misconduct by Club Officials:
If a Club Linesman is refusing to co-operate, or if he is interfering
with play, you can dispense with his services and request the respective
Club to replace him. If no replacement is available, do without - but
report the offence to the appropriate authority after the game.
- (a) If a Trainer comes onto the field of play without your permission,
allow any "treatment" of injured players to take place, thank him, and
ask him to wait for your permission next time, i.e. use your common
sense. If he ignores your advice next time, then report it, but be
careful not to antagonize by being over-officious.
- (b) If a Cub official encroaches onto the field of play without
permission - stop play if necessary, order them off, warn them about
their behavior, and report if necessary. Re-start game with a drop ball
if the game was stopped during play.
5. Coaching in an irresponsible
manner, i.e. inciting players:
Coaching is allowed from the ‘technical area’ in a responsible,
controlled manner. If irresponsible coaching is interfering with the
conduct of the match, wait for the ball to go out of play, then firstly
warn the offenders. If this occurs again, ask the perpetrator for their
name, take details of the offence, tell them that you will report the
incident, and ask them to leave the near vicinity of the field of play.
6. Officials criticizing the
At the end of half, speak to the Manager or representative (this may be
the team Captain) ask them for the offender’s name, and inform them that
you will be reporting the incident.
7. Misconduct by Spectators: i.e.
abuse of officials (Referee & Assistant Referees’)
If the abuse is during the game and moderate - just grin and bear it.
DO NOT GET INVOLVED WITH SPECTATORS
If it is good-natured banter, don’t forget you also have a sense of
If the spectators' abuse is affecting the game or players, ask a Club
official to remove or inhibit the offender(s) - and report if necessary.
If a spectator abuses a Referee off the field of play, then report it.
You will receive lots of abuse from spectators, most of which you should
'turn a deaf ear' to.
It is very difficult to steer clear of irate spectators and officials on
the local park pitches, but again,
DO NOT GET INVOLVED IN EXPLAINING YOUR DECISIONS
Unless you feel 100% comfortable, because believe me, the opening line
is always, " Can I just ask you a question ref.?", but it always leads
to confrontation - just walk away, you are NOT required to explain your
decisions to anyone.
No one ever listens anyway!8.
Encroachment onto the field of play by a spectator:
If a spectator encroaches onto the field of play, stop the game
immediately, and ask a Home Club official to remove the offender(s), and
if necessary (the Referee should) report the incident. If the Club
officials are unable to remove or placate the offender(s) then ask the
players to return temporarily to the dressing room to allow the
situation to be defused - else you can abandon the game. Re-start with a
drop ball if you had to stop the game during open play.
9. Further General Points:
For misconduct other than players on the field of play, or substitutes -
no cards are to be shown. Only a player or substitute or substituted
player may be shown the red or yellow card.
A Club trainer or physiotherapist who has been guilty of misconduct is
allowed to remain in the technical area and may still enter the field of
play to treat an injured player.
A Referee can suspend or terminate a match at his discretion for any
infringements of the laws or due to outside interference of any kind.
The decisions of the Referee regarding facts connected with play are
final. He may only change a decision if he realizes it is incorrect or
on the advice of his Assistant Referee - provided he has not restarted
play. You will sometimes have to grin and bear it, when you make a
mistake and play has restarted.
When a player commits more than one offence at the same time, punish the
more serious offence - this could be elbowing a player whilst
obstructing him at the same time. The elbowing is the more serious
offence, and warrants a direct free kick (or penalty kick if occurring
in the perpetrator's penalty area).
The Referee acts as the sole timekeeper, records Team colors, who kicked
off, and at what time. He also keeps a record of the goals scored.
The Referee is responsible for taking any misconduct action, and noting
the name of any substitutes made during the game.
The Referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect
or, at his discretion, on the advice of an Assistant Referee, provided
that he has not restarted play.
10. Extraneous Duties of Referees
Over the years extra burdens have been placed on Referees, and to seek
clarification an approach was made to the Football Association (England)
to investigate the matter. A series of questions was posed to the
members of a special Working party of the Governing Body and their
answers are listed below. At the same time, they were of the opinion
that Referees should always have the courtesy to reply to correspondence
from Leagues and Clubs, especially in respect of appointments and match
arrangements. It was also felt that Referees should be ready to assist
Leagues and Competitions generally with limited administrative duties
for the benefit of football.
While it is essential that all Referees adhere to all League and
Competition Rules, such organizations need to remain aware of the
problems any such escalation of unnecessary duties might cause to a
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+-+ ADVICE from 'THE PITCH' +-+
Questions and Answers:
This web site and the advice and answers to any questions are not
sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The
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.
Question 1: "No name Ref."
How many times have you heard this said during a game? Should the
Referee penalize such calls, and is it mentioned anywhere in the Laws?
Answer 1: This is one of my
'pet hates'. Players will insist on Referees' stopping play when such
calls are made. (For example "Mine", "Over here", My ball", "Pass it
left", " Leave it"...............)
It is permissible for players to shout for he ball, or to give
instructions to a player of his own side during a game. Referees should
only penalize such calls where it is done intentionally to trick an
opponent. And this very rarely happens. There is nothing in the Laws
(and never has been) to penalize players for not using their colleague's
names when shouting for the ball (e.g. "Pass here " as opposed to "Pass
It only becomes an offence if the call is done to trick an opponent into
making a mistake, or tricking him into leaving the ball to travel past
Question 2: During the last
game of the season, when Red United was in third position in the league,
and needing a win for promotion into the Premier Division - it was
noticed that they purposefully lost the game by deliberately allowing
the opposition easy scoring chances. It is known locally that Red United
is not interested in promotion, but are happy to just go out and win
games against weaker opposition every Saturday in the lesser divisions.
Shouldn't the Referee take some action to prevent such unsporting
Answer 2: The Referee has no
right to tell teams how to play - there is nothing he can do to prevent
a team playing in this fashion, albeit that it is grossly against the
'spirit of the game'.
Question 3: The ball had just
passed over the goal line for a goal kick, and before the Referee has
had a chance to blow his whistle for the goal kick, a defender in his
own penalty area strikes an opponent. What action should the Referee
take, and how should the game be restarted?
Answer 3: Send off the defender
for violent conduct, and restart with a goal kick, because the ball was
out of play when the incident occurred.
Question 4: During a local
'park' game, I noticed that the goalkeeper was smoking a cigarette
handed to him by a friend who was leaning on the goal post. Is this
Answer 4: No. Smoking is not
permitted on the field of play, and the goalkeeper should be cautioned
for unsporting behavior. The Referee should politely ask the friend to
move away from the goal post during the game.
Question 5: Following an
unpunished reckless tackle by a team colleague, the captain of the team
is disgusted by such behavior from one of his own team members, and
sends off the offending player. Is the captain allowed to send off his
Answer 5: No. But it is a pity
he can't. Only the Referee is allowed to send off players. The player
being 'sent-off' by the captain can be replaced by an available named
substitute. The captain should be silently applauded for his action. I
have seen this done on several occasions, especially during youth games
when managers instantly remove players guilty of offences blatantly
against the 'spirit of the game' or that team's a moral standard.
Question 6: During a game in
which I was Refereeing, both captains insisted on not having a half time
break. They both wanted to turn around immediately. One player came up
to me and said that he would like a small break. What should I do?
Answer 6: Players have a right
to a 5-minute half time interval. In this instance - even though only
one player asked for a break - you (the Referee) must allow a half time
interval. If all of the players are happy not to have a half-time break,
then the second half can be started immediately.
Question 7: During a game in
the local park - where there was no defined technical (or bench) area -
one of the officials was behaving in a disgusting manner by shouting out
expletives towards the Referee. What can the Referee do about such bad
behavior when there is no designated technical area to confine
Answer 7: The majority of
football matches are played on public grounds that do not have defined
technical areas. This does not negate the Referees powers. If the team
official is misbehaving, the Referee can order the official behind the
boundary fences (if such a fence exists) - and even from the ground if
the bad behavior continues. In reality, it is very difficult for a
Referee on his own in the 'middle of the countryside' to deal with such
bad behavior. Nevertheless, it must be dealt with properly. I recall an
incident in a local public ground with no defined 'bench' area, or
boundary fencing, where a team official threw some vicious swear words
in my direction as I was disciplining one of his players. I was standing
on the touchline, and the team official walked right up alongside me
before venting his spleen. I asked him if he was a team official, to
which he replied, "Yes". I obtained his name, and asked him to leave the
close vicinity of the field of play and go and stand some 50 yards away
by the changing rooms. Luckily he obeyed. Of course, I reported the
incident to the authorities. At the very very extreme, the Referee can
consider abandoning the game if the official has not obeyed your
instruction to leave the area, and his behavior is having a serious
effect on the discipline of players during the remainder of the game.
Law 5 clearly states that the Referee can stop, suspend or terminate the
match at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws (this
includes bad behavior by team officials). Where there is any danger to
the safety of the Referee himself, then the Referee should abandon the
match immediately and leave the vicinity by the quickest route possible.
Note: The Referee is also authorized to order a player away from the
touchline, if that player has already been sent-off and subsequently
provokes further problems. Some competition rules stipulate that players
who have been sent off, should return to the changing rooms, or leave
the vicinity of the field of play - and this is generally accepted when
there is no guidance given.
An amendment to the 2001/2002 Laws included the following "A player who
has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the
Question 8: It was noticed on
one occasion during the game, that the Referee applied an advantage, but
when the advantage did not materialize, he stopped play and penalized
the original offence. Is he allowed to do that?
Answer 8: Yes, so long as the
anticipated advantage does not happen immediately (as a guideline within
Question 9: Our local team's
floodlights failed in the 86th minute of a game that we were winning
4-0. The electricians were unable to repair the floodlights and the
Referee abandoned the match. The match had to be replayed in its
entirety, and we lost 1-0. This is not fair!
Answer 9: If for any reasons
mentioned under Law 5, the Referee has to abandon a match before normal
time has been played out - the match is normally replayed in its
entirety. Unless the competition rules provide for the score to be valid
at the time when the match was abandoned. It is the competition
authorities and not the Referee who makes such decisions.
The Referee is also authorized to stop play if the floodlights are
Question 10: During a match,
a spectator threw a coin that injured the Away Team goalkeeper. The
Referee stopped the match to allow treatment to the goalkeeper. What
action can the Referee take in such instances, and should he allow the
game to continue?
Answer 10: The Referee must
report such instances to the authorities. If the incident was an
isolated case, the Referee may continue with the match. If the Referee
has the luxury of security ground personnel, then the incident must be
reported immediately to allow for action to be taken against the
culprit(s). If spectators continue to throw dangerous items at players
(or the Assistant Referees), then the Referee must abandon or
temporarily suspend the match. The safety of the players (and the
Referees) is paramount in such occurrences.
Question 11: If during the
taking of a free kick, an opponent who has not retired the correct
distance intercepts the ball - what action should the Referee take?
Answer 11: None: Play should be
allowed to continue. If the team taking the free kick opts to take it
quickly, they should not be given another chance just because an
opponent has not had enough time to retreat the required distance. The
taking of a quick free kick is done to try and gain an advantage - if
this advantage does not accrue, that's their hard luck!!
Question 12: During a game,
it was noticed that the Red team captain continuously questioned the
Referee about his decisions. Does a team captain have special
dispensation to question the Referee?
Answer 12: Certainly not. Some
captains believe they have a right to question the Referee on their
team's behalf. Neither the captain nor any other player has the right to
show disagreement with the Referee's decisions. The team captain should
be responsible for his own team's behavior.
Question 13: Just when should
the Referee stop play if a player is injured.
Answer 13: Law 5 states that
the Referee "should stop the match, if in his opinion, a player is
seriously injured and ensures that he is treated or removed from the
field of play."
If a player is only slightly injured, the Referee should not stop play,
but wait when the ball has naturally gone out of play, before calling
for assistance from the trainer. If the player is able to go to the
touchline himself for treatment, then he should be encouraged to do so -
any treatment given whilst play continues, must be given off the field
of play. Beware of trainers treating players who stand just inside the
field of play. Players must leave the field completely before treatment
can be given. But please use a bit of common sense here - a player who
just wants a quick dab of the cold sponge should be able to do so if the
trainer throws the sponge on near the field boundary for his use.
Referees should err on the side of safety when assessing the severity of
injured players. Play should be stopped when goalkeepers are injured,
and this is generally accepted (see my Law 3 page on this subject).
Question 14: During a shot
towards goal by an attacking player, the ball hits the Referee in the
face. The Referee is temporarily incapacitated and did not see the ball
deflect into the goal. The Referee allows the goal to stand. Is his
Answer 14: Only if the
Assistant Referee confirms that the ball did cross over the goal line
between the posts and a goal was properly scored.
Question 15: Is there
anything that he Referee can do to win over the respect of the players?
Answer 15: Yes. He can learn
the Laws inside out!, be fit and most of all be fair and consistent.
Question 16: Can a mistake
made by a Referee be rescinded after the game has finished?
Answer 16: As far as the Laws
themselves are concerned - Law 5 clearly states that:
"The decisions of the referee connected with play are final".
That's it really as far as referees are concerned.
What the question really alludes to is - how much money could be lost
following a (genuine honest) refereeing mistake - as far as the
commercial business of that particular Club is concerned?
20 years ago, people would have accepted the honest mistake. Sadly,
these days, money and success are the ONLY factors that seem to count.
Whatever happened to the spirit of the game"?
Albeit that theses days, there may be some mileage in the sentiments. -
Question 17: Is there any way
of getting consistency with Referees?
Answer 17: Consistency in human
beings is impossibility. Understand this and you will appreciate that
you are no different to us (Referees).
Whatever you may think about
- a. Referees strive towards this impossible goal.
- b. If Referees were programmable robots, people would not even bother
watching football. The same goes if players were robots.
- c. If players and Referees were ‘perfection personified’ – there would
be no mistakes and no dissent and no red cards etc. Every player would
pass the ball to where it was intended. And Referees would never get a
- d. Players never get abused or questioned because THEY can’t pass
correctly, and neither do their managers or fans berate them in public
on the field of play - in the same way that they do to Referees.
- e. If we could only have some consistency in the way players, managers
and spectators behave towards someone wearing black, compared to the way
they behave themselves in their normal day to day lives, then we really
would be getting somewhere.
- f. Next time you witness abuse to a Referee, just imagine this being
done to you personally whilst you were walking down the High Street –
and think about your reaction in such a situation.
The inconsistency in
Referees is directly proportional to the inconsistency of players.
Before the Game.
Question No 1: Confirm appointments with Referees' Secretary?
Answer No. 1: Yes.
Question No 2: Confirm appointments with Home Club?
Answer No. 2: Yes.
Question No 3: Report when actually received details from Home Club?
Answer No. 3: It was felt this was only necessary if the details were
not received or received late, or it was a requirement of the league or Competition Rules.
Question No 4: Carry out pitch inspection with Local Authorities?
Answer No. 4: The Working Party appreciated that concern has been
expressed about this general subject which has often been linked with
the wider issue of legal liability. Referees are always required to
determine whether a pitch is suitable for play. However, as far as
difficult pitch conditions are concerned within the Laws of the Game, he
has the authority to decide whether or not a match should be started or
continued, in view of pitch conditions and in the interest of safety of
the participates. Care and attention to pitch inspection duties are
essential. Reference was made to legal advice, already received, where
"it was generally felt that players, in all forms of football played
throughout the country, must accept some degree of risk of injury
through difficult pitch conditions. It was thought that only in the most
extreme circumstances would any legal Liability actually be attached to
a Referees decision, providing that the Referee did act with a total
reckless disregard for the interest of safety of the participants".
Question No 5: Notify if the pitch is not enclosed to the league?
Answer No. 5: Only if it is a requirement of a League or Competition.
Question No 6: Witness the signing of registration forms by players?
Answer No 6: No. (Referees' Committee Minute 61 11th May 1981 refers).
Question No 7: Report time of arrival of Assistant Referees?
Answer No. 7: Only Assistant Referees who are late or if a requirement
of a League or Competition.
Question No 8: Confirm if a team has a First Aid Box and check contents?
Answer No. 8: No.
Question No. 9: If a parent comes up to the Referee before the game
seeking leniency for a player who has trouble refraining from swearing -
what should the Referee do?
Answer No.9: Indeed this is a very good question and one that I have
come across several times in my career as a Referee. Only just the other
week, whilst I was accompanying one of my young 14 year old Referee to
one of his games, the ‘Home’ team manager came up to my young Referee
and mentioned that one of ‘his lads’ – "the one with the blond hair",
was prone to swearing, but could not help himself from doing this.
Before a Referee begins a game, a number of outside factors will
influence him. For example – rivalry between the teams - history of
previous bad encounters - last week’s referee’s performance – the type
of welcome he receives - personality clashes etc. etc. The fact that you
are told that one of the players can’t help swearing is just another
outside influence. Before the game starts, the Referee should clear his
mind of all prejudices and attempts of gamesmanship. The Referee must be
100% fair to both teams and show no particular favoritism to one team or
the other. Doing so will be quickly spotted by the opposing team, and
will lead to all sorts of problems.
If someone comes up to you and states that a particular player is prone
to swearing – all you need to do is answer
"Thank you, but I treat each player the same. I suggest that you might
like to remind this person that swearing can lead to a sending-off".
This does two things. Firstly, it gives a clear message to the person
that you are talking to, that you will not be influenced by gamesmanship
(and by this, I mean that this so called swearing player will not be
treated any different to the other players). And secondly, it puts the
onus on that person to make sure this so-called ‘swearing player’ is
told in no uncertain terms to behave himself.
OK, you might say that this advice does not really do much to help the
Referee control this particular player – and you would probably be
BUT there are little nuances that you can use to help you control this
1. During the toss-up with the Captains at the beginning of the game,
ask them to remind their players to keep the swearing down. After the
toss-up, The captain of the ‘swearing player’ will undoubtedly go
straight to his ‘swearing player’ and remind him to behave himself else
the Referee may take strong action.
2. During the early stages of the game, adjust your diagonal slightly to
be nearer this ‘swearing player; than you would be under normal
circumstances. On the first occasion that you suspect this player to be
contemplating swearing out loud, (for example when he makes a foul
tackle) blow your whistle as loud and as long as you can to drown any
first words, then step in quickly and give this player a quiet but stern
bit of advice.
"Please do not even think of
swearing else you will be in serious trouble"
You need to do this maybe once or twice early in the game, and the
player will very soon get the message.
3. Making periodic definite eye contact with the ‘swearing-player’ will
also let him know that you are keeping a particular eye on him (and
nobody else knows you are doing this. This ‘body-language’ imparts a
clear message to the ‘searing-player’. And the message to him is "looks
like this Referee will not put up with any nonsense!".
These are just three methods you can use without showing favoritism to
one team or another.
Of course, if the ‘swearing-player’ does come out with a tirade of abuse
before you have had chance to quell it, then you must deal with it as
you would with any other player. If you let this player off at this
stage, you will need to do the same if another player repeats this
misbehavior later on in the match - and of course, you must not let this
If a child has behavioral problems,
Refereeing a game of football is about dealing with 22 individual
players, each of whom you will have to deal with in an individual way.
For example, if one particular player is showing dissent, he will have
to be dealt with individually, and cautioned if necessary. This does not
mean that you have to caution the other 21 players. The statement "to be
influenced in any way by an outside person telling you that a certain
player swears a lot is wrong" is true, but when this player starts to
spout, you are already aware of problem even though you might think you
are not! Therefore (human nature being what it is) it allows you to
react quicker that you probably might have done in normal cases. The
game is about the players, and how you man-manage them as individuals
AND as a whole. This does not impinge on the way a Referee treats
players as far as showing any favoritism (or not). It must be remembered
that the Laws are written to enable Referees to use their initiative
when dealing with players – we are not "a Law book on legs". The aim is
not to go looking for trouble, but to use all the means available to you
to prevent it.
the Referee is not the person who is
responsible for teaching this child how to behave.
And neither is the Referee
responsible for diagnosing whether there is any truth in the fact
child has a medically recognized problem (or not).
The Referee is there
to referee a football match (he is not a medical advisor)
and must not
show leniency to any particular player for whatever reason.
Question No 1: Draw the
winning numbers in the Club Lottery?
Answer No. 1: Strictly speaking
no; but many would see this as helpful, friendly assistance and would
agree to partake.
After the Game
Question No 1: Report number of players available in each team?
Answer No. 1: Only if a requirement of a league or Competition Rule.
Question No 2: Report late kick-off and who is responsible?
Answer No. 2: Only if a requirement of a league or Competition Rule.
Question No 3: Report actual time played?
Answer No. 3: Only if the time played is not in accordance with the
requirement of the Competition Rules. In such a case, the reason for the
deviation from the expected time should be explained.
Question No 4: Report conditions of pitch markings and goal nets?
Answer No. 4: The requirement of the Laws of the Game might cause the
Referees to report inadequacies concerning pitch markings, but otherwise
these items will only be reported if a requirement of a League or
Responsibilities of Referees:
Possible Insurance Cover
At the request of The Referees' Association and as a follow-on to
Question 4 above. (Before the game, field of play inspection), the
Working Party discussed this topic and recommended that, in the view of
the history and the few cases involving solicitors/court action in the
last 2 years, nothing had altered to change this extract from the
Referees' Committee Minute 29 c of the 5th December 1991, which was
- "The Referees' Association had written to the Football Association to
express the concern of Referees of the whole issue of possible legal
liabilities and third party claims; it was suggested that insurance
cover was necessary. The Chairman of the Referees' Committee and Chief
Executive had discussed the matter and a reply sent to the Referees'
Association on the 18th November 1991. The Referees’ Committee endorsed
this reply. It was agreed no further action should be taken but the
matter would continued to be monitored closely".
Further negotiations have taken place since that date and now all
Referees are covered with Legal Liability Insurance through their
respective Football Associations.
Legal Question 1: During a
hard fought amateur league football game, a player received a broken leg
as the result of a slightly vigorous tackle, which went wrong. The FA
rules seem to protect the tackler's defense that it was only a slightly
vigorous tackle, and that since he was within the rules of the game he
can't have intended to commit a criminal assault or actual bodily harm?
Legal Answer 1: The world of
legal Law is a complex beast. This is only my opinion and should not be
taken as de facto, and as we say in business, this advice is provided
Thousands of players are badly injured every year by dangerous foul play
or unsafe playing conditions. Careers are ruined and thousands of pounds
lost in wages, yet very few players claim compensation.
When players play football they accept the risks of things like an
accidental clash of heads. But they don't accept the risks that someone
might throw a punch or kick them when the ball isn't there or that a
tackle on them is made with the sole intention of committing bodily harm
or that the facilities being used are unsafe.
Decision 1 of (Laws of Associated
Football Law 5 states that:
"A referee (or where applicable, an assistant referee or fourth
official) is not held liable for:
- Any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator
- Any damage to property of any kind
- Any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association
or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision which he
may take under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the
normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match."
Whether this holds any sway in Court is for the Court to decide.
Law 12 (Laws of Associated Football allows the Referee to penalize a
player if he commits a foul that is
careless, reckless, or
using excessive force.
But what do these terms actually mean within the game?
Careless is when a
player attempting to challenge for the ball which is in close proximity
to an opponent, puts a great deal of honest effort into the challenge,
but wildly mistimed it, and in doing so fouls the opponent.
Reckless is when a
player makes a challenge in a manner where there is a clear risk of
endangering an opponent, but pays no regard to the possible consequences
and the safety and/or welfare of his opponent.
Excessive force is
when a player makes a challenge that may be malicious or brutal and may
be designed to hurt or maim an opponent.
If a careless, reckless or excessive force (Serious Foul Play) tackle
were made by a player who is making ‘some’ attempt to play the ball, and
the tackle results in a serious injury - this would be very difficult to
compensate for in legal (Court) terms. Bearing in mind that football is
a very physical game, it would be even more difficult to prove
negligence if a serious injury were the result of a slightly vigorous
Football is a tough combative sport, it is a game where body contact
occurs, and the Laws are framed so that the players can play without
danger to themselves, if their opponents respect both the letter of the
spirit of the Laws.
Nevertheless, very hard tackles
have been made where
players have contacted the ball first, but have deliberately followed
through to commit serious injury to the opponent. A Referee cannot be
expected to read the mind (intent) of a player committing such a tackle
(even though it is fairly obvious in some circumstances, that injuring
the opponent is the prime aim of the perpetrator.)
Serious Foul Play
covers actions that are part of the game and usually involve some
attempt to play the ball. For instance, a player who very strongly slide
tackles an opponent from behind, knowing full well that although he will
make some contact with the ball during the tackle, his main aim is to
inflict some serious damage to his opponent.
occurs outside of the immediate play action of a game, and as such would
stand more chance of receiving injury compensation in, a Court of Law
(than would a Serious Foul play injury). In other words, violent conduct
has nothing to do with the game of football, and is purely a violent act
resulting in a possible injury. Whereas, serious foul play is committed
whilst challenging (or supposedly challenging) for the ball.
Violent Conduct is
an action outside of the game play and is simply when a player aims to
inflict damage to another person such as fighting, thumping, elbowing,
head butting etc... This can include fighting with opponents,
colleagues, spectators, officials, managers… you name it ………..
At the beginning of each season, all Referees receive a leaflet showing
current the FIFA Law amendments and Instructions of the FA International
In the 1998/1999 leaflets, the FA provided the following to all
"New Decision 5"
A tackle from behind which endangers the safety of an opponent must be
sanctioned as serious foul play.
Acts of serious foul play are punishable by a red card."
This is now incorporated in Law 12 Decision
"A tackle from behind which endangers the safety of an opponent must be
sanctioned as serious foul play."
The Laws and guidance in football are always concise – the aim being to
allow the Referee to judge particular situations (and not have to be
stifled by reams of Laws and sub-clauses etc.)
There is not much guidance readily accessible (to the public) to help
with the scenario of compensation claims between players. Nevertheless,
there is plenty of advice and guidance provided to Referees in training
books, memorandums etc. from the Football Associations and the Referees’
"Each incident must be judged by the Referee as it happens and the
question of danger rests entirely on his opinion." (Source: F.A.
Memorandum 1993– Dangerous Play (Pg. 16):
"There is no specific advice for referees where a player seeks to take
legal action against another player. The referee will not be involved
unless law requires him,, to attend any Court Proceedings. If this is
the case The Football Association, The Football Association or the
Referees Association may offer advice. This is always done on a case by
What is serious injury?
A serious injury cannot be easily defined. However, they can have a
major impact upon the life of the player and warrant possible
compensation if caused by the willful misconduct of an opponent. Referee
must be particularly vigilant when young players are concerned – because
a serious injury can have a significant impact on the development of a
Another factor in considering the seriousness of an injury is the impact
on the victim's earnings and lifestyle. An injury that causes a
substantial loss of earnings or earning capacity would be termed
"serious". Also, an injury that requires a player to make major
accommodations to their lifestyle is also serious.
Serious injury is when there is any harm done to the body that causes
severe, permanent or protracted loss of or impairment to the health or
to the function of any part of the body.
Some examples of serious injury
that can occur to a player follows:
- Becomes unconscious.
- Has trouble breathing or is breathing in a strange way.
- Has chest pain or pressure.
- Is bleeding severely.
- Has pressure or pain in the abdomen that does not go away.
- Is vomiting or passing blood.
- Has seizures, a severe headache, or slurred speech or blurred vision.
- Has an injury to the head, neck, or back.
- Has possible broken bones.
- Disfigurement (significant scarring or burns)
- Spinal cord injuries
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.
A head injury may cause serious injury to the brain, even when there is
no visible bleeding or injury on the outside of the skull.
The impact of a hard blow to the head may jar or shake the brain within
the skull (closed head injury). The rapid movement of the brain within
the skull can cause bruising, swelling, or tearing of the brain tissue.
It can also stretch, pull apart, or tear nerves or blood vessels within
or around the brain.
The symptoms of a serious head
injury may include:
- A severe headache or a headache that continues to get worse.
- Confusion or abnormal behavior.
- A young player with a head injury may be extremely irritable or
fretful or may cry constantly.
- Difficulty with staying awake.
- Slurred speech.
- Numbness, weakness, or loss of movement in the arms or legs.
- Vision changes and changes in the pupils' size, shape, and reaction to
- Dizziness, nausea, vertigo, or unsteadiness that prevents standing or
- Bleeding from the ears or elsewhere on the head.
- May have unequal pupils
- Altered level of consciousness
Head injuries can sometimes occur when players have been using alcohol
or drugs, which can make evaluation and recognition difficult. Do not
assume any altered behavior is only from alcohol or drug use.
Immediately after a head injury occurs, it can be difficult to tell the
difference between a mild concussion and a more serious injury. A brain
bruise (contusion) or bleeding within the skull at first may cause only
mild symptoms. Players who have experienced a head injury should be
watched carefully for 24 hours. If serious head injury is suspected, an
immediate visit to the hospital or to a Doctor is essential. Players who
have suffered from concussion should be advised not to play any further
part in the game.
CONCUSSION is an
internal head injury. Of all the head injuries, this is the most
insidious, and many casualties have succumbed several hours after the
incident. Be especially observant during contact involving children -
the myth that you can 'run off' your concussion by playing on is a
dangerous attitude, and has caused grief to many players, parents and
coaches when the player eventually collapses. Concussion is potentially
very serious, and an indifferent attitude is to be discouraged.
Serious injury can have devastating consequences for the player and
their family. Serious injury affects the whole person, from physical
abilities to changes in the quality of life.
The aim of BELOW is to understand what
action must be taken if a serious injury is suspected
You must stop a play if in your opinion a player is seriously injured.
If you miss a serious injury, other players will normally tell you. You
do not have to wait until the ball is out of play - stop the game
immediately if a serious head injury is suspected.
Arrange for any injured player to be treated and if necessary, removed
from the field of play.
If you feel that a player is only slightly injured, wait until the ball
is out of play before stopping the game. Players will normally kick the
ball out for a throw-in if an injured player needs treatment.
Try and recognize serious injuries such as broken bones, concussion,
torn ligaments, bleeding, neck and head injuries. Look out for body
signs such as an inert unconscious body, or obvious pain - and always
err on the side of caution. If there is any doubt as to the seriousness
of an injury -the player's health is far more important than a game of
Recognition comes with practice - but it is fairly obvious when a bad
If an injury is the result of a deliberate action by another player -
discipline the culprit properly.
Referees are not supposed to include details of an injury in a
discipline report - i.e. "The player's leg was cut and broken in several
places" - but putting words to this effect in a report can sometimes
highlight the severity of a very serious offence.
If an injured player is 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).
Treatment of Injured
Referees should allow players to return to the field of play as soon as
possible after they have received treatment off the field, and have
recovered from their injury. In this respect, and in the case of players
returning from treatment for a bleeding injury, the Fourth Official may
assist Referees, where one has been appointed to the match. The Fourth
Official can signal to the Referee that a player is ready to come back
Concerns have been expressed about the loss of playing time caused by
the assessment of injuries to players and their removal from the field
of play. The safety of the players must always be the main priority,
however Referees are instructed to add the full amount of time lost for
these delays and any other reasons at the end of each period of
ACTUAL EXAMPLE REPORT INCIDENT:
- Where player's nose was deliberately broken and split.
"Following a fair 50/50 challenge for the ball between two opponents,
and an ensuing innocuous push by the Referee's United player on his
opponent - Tony Bruiser (who was very close to the incident - but not
actively involved in the challenge) suddenly, and without warning struck
an opponent in the face. This was a very strong, instant, unwarranted
and very violent strike against the opponent. Had the opponent not
turned his head slightly in an attempt to ward off the blow, this could
have been a very serious incident."
At the lower levels of football, there will invariably not be a
first-aide or medical assistant available should a serious injury occur.
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.
Ensure that a bleeding player leaves the field of play; do not wait for
play to stop if the player is capable of leaving the Field of Play on
The injured player can only return on when signaled to do so by the
Referee - try and ensure that after receiving treatment, the oncoming
player does not come onto the field of play in a position that gives
that player's team an advantage - as this will anger the opponents.
Referee must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped before allowing
the player to come back on.
Any cut that goes beyond the top layer of skin that might need stitches
(sutures) should be seen by a health care professional. Generally, the
sooner sutures are put in, the lower the risk of infection. Therefore,
any cut that might need suturing should be seen as soon as possible.
The nosebleed is a common injury to players. To help stop bleeding:
- Pinch all the soft parts of the nose together between your thumb and
- Press firmly toward the face - compressing the pinched parts of the
nose against the bones of the face.
- Hold the nose for at least 5 minutes (timed by the clock). Repeat as
necessary until the nose has stopped bleeding.
- Sit quietly, keeping the head higher than the level of the heart; that
is, sit up or lie with the head elevated.
- Do not lay flat or put your head between your legs.
- Apply ice (crushed in a plastic bag or washcloth) to nose and cheeks.
3. WHEN THE GAME MUST BE
If a serious injury is suspected.
Note the position of the ball when the game is stopped (I have
difficulty remembering this!!). If the delay is likely to be long, stop
your watch if necessary and allow time for reasonable assessment and
quick treatment if required.
If a serious injury is suspected, indicate for the trainer to come on.
Under no circumstances - however long it takes - move a player if you
suspect that he has a broken bone or any serious injury. Arrange for
proper medical help or an ambulance to be called.
When a bone is broken, or fractured, it affects not only blood
production and function, but there are also complications associated
with the muscles, tendons, nerves and blood vessels which are attached,
or are close, to the bone.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS OF FRACTURES
Some, or all, of the following:
- Pale, cool, clammy skin
- Rapid, weak pulse
- Pain at the site
- Loss of power to limb
- Associated wound and blood loss
- Associated organ damage
If the injury is less serious - arrange for the player to be removed
from the field of play - or use your common sense and allow quick
treatment such as the application of the magic 'cold water and sponge'.
4. RESTARTING PLAY AFTER A STOPPAGE FOR TREATMENT OF A SERIOUS INJURY.
If the ball was out of play - restart, as you would do normally i.e.
throw-in, goal kick etc....
If the serious injury was the result of a foul - restart with the
appropriate free kick.
If the serious injury was not the result of a foul - restart with a
dropped-ball at the place where the ball was when you stopped play
98/99 Law Amendment: An injured player returning into the field of play
can enter from any boundary if the ball is out of play. And on the
If the ball is still in play, the returning player can only enter from a
touchline, and on the Referee’s signal.
Law 5/8 - External Interference
The aim of BELOW...
Is to know what action the Referee must take to Stop,
Suspend and Restart play...
If the game has been effected by external
1. The game must be stopped
if the game is effected by?
- (a) Encroachment by: Spectators, Substitutes, Officials, Substitutes,
Animals or even the weather.
- (b) Farcical situations, which interfere with the ball or with the
players. Unforeseen circumstances.
Some examples of external
- A player rips his shorts to such an extent that it leaves nothing to
- A ball from the next pitch gets in the way of the play action of the
- A Referee or Assistant Referee (or a player) is hit by a missile from
the crowd, and it is necessary to stop the game.
- Crowd encroachment on to the field of play.
- The manager or coach entering the field of play whilst the game is in
- Streakers! (Some chance!)
- Inclement weather conditions e.g. a thunderstorm.
- Animals on the field of play (and I don't mean the players!)
2. How to restart game
after a temporary suspension:
If the ball was in play when you stopped the game, then restart with a
dropped ball at the place where the ball was when you stopped play. If
the game is stopped whilst the ball is in play inside a goal area -
restart with a dropped ball on the line marking the outer edge of the
goal area, parallel to the goal line at a point nearest to where the
ball was in play.
If you (the Referee) have to stop the game because of external (outside
of the game) interference, then note position of the ball when the game
was stopped; you will need to remember how and where to re-start the
game!!!!!!!. It is very easy to remain focused on the cause of the
external interference, and then forget where the ball was when you
IT IS VERY EASY TO FORGET:
WHERE THE BALL WAS WHEN YOU STOPPED PLAY
If the ball was out of play when you stopped the game, use the
appropriate restart, i.e. goal kick, throw-in etc.....
When the ball is still in play, any offences committed by players on the
actual field of play against teammates or encroaching officials,
coaches, and spectators, must be restarted with the award of an indirect
free kick to the opposing team. If the misconduct occurred off the field
of play whilst the ball was still in play, the restart should be a
dropped ball at the place where the ball was when the Referee stopped
If when a ball is about to cross over the goal line for a goal, it is
stopped or deflected towards goal by an outside agent such as a dog, or
a spectator, then you must award a DROPPED BALL at the place where the
incident occurred. (Except in the goal area - then drop the ball on the
nearest point of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal
line.) At park level games, it is not unusual to have spectators
standing very close to the goal posts, who have been know to deflect the
ball into the goal by placing a foot into the field of play - or
conversely, to even prevent a goal.
If the ball deflects off a dog and then goes into the goal - the goal
does not count. This is external interference, and a dropped ball is the
correct method for restarting the game.
If during a penalty kick - an outside agent touches the ball whilst it
moves forward - the penalty kick must be retaken.
The Referee (and Assistant Referees) are deemed to be part of the field
of play, so if the ball is deflected from the Referee and goes into the
goal - the goal counts! The moral here is for the Referee to stay well
clear of the goal areas during periods of play.
MORE... QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS:
Question 1: What is a
goalkeeper supposed to do if while catching the ball, he gets an injury?
Is he supposed to try and throw the ball out for a corner or keep hold
of it and give the opposing team an indirect free kick for holding onto
the ball too long? Or is there something in the small print of the
rules, which allows the Referee to deal with this scenario?
Answer 1: Although there is
nothing in the Laws to cover this specific scenario, Referees will
always accord goalkeepers with special protection.
The reason for this, is that Law 3 'Number of Players' states that:
"On field of play: Before kick-off, check that there are 11 players per
side including a goalkeeper".
In other words, a game should not proceed without a goalkeeper.
The situation where the goalkeeper goes down injured whilst still
possessing the ball, is no different to when an outfield player goes
down injured with the ball trapped beneath him. And in these cases, the
Referee should stop play immediately, before any opponents decide that
the ball is still in play, and start kicking at the prostrate player.
Law 5 also states that the Referee can stop play if he suspects that a
player is seriously injured.
The Referee usually allows the goalkeeper a moment or two to see whether
he is able to throw the ball out of play himself. If this is not he
case, then the Referee will (or should) always stop the game to allow
treatment to be administered. Referees must err on the side of caution
when judging whether an injury is serious or not. The game should not be
allowed to continue without the goalkeeper.
If the Referee needs to stop the game, then the correct restart is a
dropped ball. A dropped ball does not have to have two players, it can
have none!. So in theses cases, all the Referee needs to do to restart
play, is to drop the ball back to the goalkeeper (when no other players
are nearby). If the injured goalkeeper managed to throw the ball out of
play before the game was stopped - the correct restart is the natural
restart, i.e. corner or throw-in. In these cases, opposing players
usually follow 'the spirit of the game' and return the ball directly
back to the goalkeeper's team.
An indirect free kick cannot be awarded in these situations, because
they do not directly involve a foul committed by an opponent. The
restart is either a dropped ball, or the neutral restart i.e. corner or
Law 8: "A dropped ball is a way of restarting the match after a
temporary stoppage that becomes necessary, while the ball is in play -
for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game."
Thanks to Glynn for this interesting question.
Question 2: Are players
allowed to wear spectacles?
Answer 2: Sympathy has been
expressed for players, especially young players, who need to wear
spectacles. It is accepted that new technology had made sports
spectacles much safer, both for the player himself and for other
While the Referee has the final decision on the safety of players’
equipment, the FA Board expects that Referees will take full account of
modern technology and the improved safety features of spectacle design
when making their decision.
Question 3: Does a Referee
have any jurisdiction in deciding whether an ill or injured player can
carry on playing on the field of play or not?
Answer 3: The subject of
whether a Referee can refuse to allow a supposed sick or injured player
to remain on the field of play has been discussed on many occasions by
Referees' every where in the World - the outcome generally being that
the Referee has no jurisdiction in Law to make such a decision unless
the player posed a danger to other players or to himself. It is an
interesting question that receives different answers depending who you
speak to. Nevertheless, as a compassionate human being, I would always
do my very best to dissuade such a player from staying in the field of
play, or strongly recommend to the manager/coach that the player be
removed. A similar difficulties can also be experienced with players
under the effect of drugs or drink - how is a Referee to decide? The
only factors of importance are the use of common sense by the Referee
and the potential element of danger to other players (or the player
himself). And very lastly, I always like to keep things in perspective -
football is only a game that lasts 90 minutes, so it is better for an
ill player to be 60 minutes early for 'the bath' than 60 years early for
Question 4: Are some of the
substances used for marking out the lines more dangerous than others?
Answer 4: Yes. Some substances
are more dangerous than others. Various practices have been used in the
past for the application of white lines to football pitches. The
objectives of such practices has been to both reduce labor and materials
costs whilst endeavoring to keep the lines visible for a greater length
of time. Some of these practices have led to injury and subsequent court
action being taken against managers and clubs. See The Lancashire Youth
Football web site for an excellent page of information about Line
Marking Safety covering materials used in constructing the lines on the
field of play.
Question 5: When can players
and Referees drink fluids during a game?
Answer 5: Because the balance
of water in the body is essential for the health, drinking liquids
during a game is not only permitted by FIFA but also actively
encouraged. The following rules must however be observed so as to avoid
disorderliness on the field and prevent injury from missiles being
thrown through the air.
(a) Liquids may only be drunk during stoppages in play.
(b) Drinks must be contained in plastic bottles and handed to the
players on the sidelines.
(c) It is forbidden to throw bottles or other receptacles onto the field
(d) The goalkeeper may keep a plastic bottle in the corner of his goal.
(e) Plastic bottles may be placed around the field of play approximately
1 meter away from the sidelines and goal lines but only as long as they
do not obstruct the Assistant Referees in the course of their duty.
(FIFA Circular 619) 1997
Question 6: Why is it that
some Referees insist that a player who has been treated on the field of
play leave the field of play after being treated, whilst other Referees
are content for the player to remain on the field as play restarts?
Answer 6: Referees deal with
injuries by using by common sense within the ‘spirit of the game’ – each
incident is different.
98/99 Law Amendment: An injured player returning into the field of play
can enter from any boundary if the ball is out of play. And on the
Referee’s signal. If the ball is still in play, the returning player can
only enter from a touchline, and on the Referee’s signal.
The goalkeeper is different, because the Law requires a goalkeeper to be
present on the field of play for each team, and that is why the
goalkeeper is usually treated on the field of play. If the Referee stops
play, he can restart it by just dropping the ball to the goalkeeper (a
dropped-ball can take place with only one player in site). But normally,
a member of the opposition will offer (in the spirit of the game) to
touch the dropped ball back to the goalkeeper. Treating the goalkeeper
on the field of play also saves time, because if the goalkeeper had to
be treated off the field of play, a colleague would have to take his
place in goal. They would then have to swap again when the goalkeeper
had received his treatment and was ready to return. It is therefore
usually quicker to treat the goalkeeper on the field of play. It is also
permissible for any other player, injured at the same time as the
goalkeeper, to be treated on the field of play and neither player needs
to leave after treatment unless required to do so by the Rules of some
If a player is bleeding, he must leave the field immediately to have the
bleeding stopped and his skin and uniform cleaned as thoroughly as
There is some inconsistency when asking players to leave the field of
play after an injury, but this is only seen at the top level. At the
lower levels the treated player normally stays on as play restarts. Each
competition will have its own specific rules and advice for Referees –
but please try to remember that the Referee is "not a Law book on legs".
I am not aware of any conflicts in dealing with injured players this
FIFA instruction 549 dated 2nd December 1994 was the initial instruction
advising that players must leave the field of play for treatment. An
abridged version reads:
"When play is stopped the referee will enquire of a player if he needs
If the player does require treatment - can he walk to the touchline
unaided? If yes, the player leaves the field of play and then play in
restarted. If no, the referee signals for physiotherapist, with a
The physiotherapist will be given time for his diagnosis/verification of
the injury but must be reminded that no treatment is allowed on the
field of play.
After diagnosis/verification, the player and the physiotherapist will
walk off the field of play for treatment to be administered. The player
will only return after a signal from the referee.
If the physiotherapist considers that the player cannot walk off the
pitch, he will advise the referee who will use the two-handed signal for
Players who refuse to leave the field of play must be cautioned for
(a) a head injury sustained
by any player and
(b) an injury sustained by a goalkeeper.
With the permission of the referee, a physiotherapist is allowed to
attend an injured player on the field of play, during the time that the
referee is administering disciplinary action against an offending