Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login


MRREF 7/1/2015

Red player fouls Blue player inside the Red PA!. It is a penal offence, cautionable as a reckless tackle but also fits a sending-off offence as DOGSO criteria are met. The player is shown the red card and sent-off. As they set up for the PK one of the ARs points out that the Blue team have 12 players on the field! Referee counts and sure enough they do. In fact the Blue player who was fouled was not supposed to be on the field. Your Call is?
Your match, your decision, your reputation!


There are many things for the referee to consider during the process if unscrewing this mess. Firstly the referee MUST understand the match is "invalid" as soon as the twelfth player entered the park. Whether or not this is a result of a poorly [read abysmally] administered substitution or through other cause such as not counting to begin the match, second period of play or a substitute just choosing to enter on his own the referee is bound by law to caution and remove the twelfth player from the field of play, and this is not an option. This is a given. The referee is going to have tons of explaining to do in his match report about the incident. Again, a given.

So back to the mess, we have just sent-off and shown the red card to a player who, because of a reckless tackle [trip or the attempt to trip or the like] that also denied a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity. He has gone to where ever players in this competition must go, the locker room or the bench or where ever, anyway he has gone.

While we are setting up to restart play we find out there are twelve players on the field. As roster checking or the list of substitutes reveals or the captain points out the extra player is in fact the gent who was the recipient of the foul play. Because of this his presence WAS consequential and it is BECAUSE of the fact we must address this as a different restart then if it was a legal player. At this point the referee crew, and especially the referee begin to feel the effects of a serious attack of "What Now?" followed by the proverbial "Oh [insert disgusting word here]!!

Here is where all those tests we have taken come to use. If we can we must recall a number of things:

1. What is the penalty for too many men on the field?

2. How is a goal scored?

3. How is a goal scoring opportunity denied?

4. What is the penalty for denying a goal or obvious goal scoring opportunity?

5. What changes a direct free kick into a penalty kick?

6. How does the referee punish a the reckless act of doing one of the first seven direct free kick offences?

7. Can an illegal substitute be fouled or does only misconduct apply?

8. Can the referee change a decision taken?

Assuming the referee has the presence of mind to think of all these things, or has an assistant who can advise him of these things he is armed with enough information to resolve the problem. There it is, a solution -- even though it is hidden in Law there really is one. It isn't pretty because many things are not supported in Law as soon as the twelfth player entered.

We're all standing around immediately after a player has been sent-off and watching the referee count with a funny expression on his face, he begins to pale and realizes...

The twelfth player must be cautioned and removed form the field, there is no choice in the matter either because the referee is bound by the Infringements/Sanctions section of Law 3. AND, for this the penalty is an indirect free kick for his opponents at the place the ball was when play was stopped, subject to the special circumstances of Law 8. Cool...

Now the matter of what happened with the goal being denied kind of thing. The astute referee, or at least one who is familiar with Law 10 - The Method of Scoring knows a goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line under the crossbar and between the posts provided the Laws of the Game have not been infringed by the team scoring the goal. Oops! In this Mess the team who had a goal scoring opportunity taken away COULD NOT have scored a goal in accordance with Law 10!!

This is the first incident of the Laws of the Game not supporting any action you take because you stopped play BECAUSE of foul play that denied a goal and have already instructed a player to disappear. Can you do that? Can you do that based on the knowledge you now have???

We think you can't, but you have. Oh [disgusting word again].

Law 5 is a bail out in that you are permitted, IN LAW, to change a decision already taken provided you haven't allowed play to restart. The player sent-off was sent-off without basis in Law, another time the Law doesn't support what you MUST do. Even though you stopped play for, effectively, denying a goal scoring opportunity circumstances have revealed a goal COULD NOT be scored by that team because they infringed the Law. The player sent-off must be returned to the match because there is no sending-off offence possible, the challenge was "reckless" not excessive. He returneth from where he went and is cautioned for the reckless MISCONDUCT and the sending-off is rescinded. [Need we mention the match report is now quite a bit more than just the one paragraph and the referee committee is going to want to have a chat with you.]

By the way, you still need to restart play -- don't you? Yup, you guessed it -- Indirect free kick to the side with the right number of players because that happened first and where the ball was when you stopped play. NO DFK ! Why?

The fact is the team that had 12 players on the FOP while the ball was in play ...PRIOR... to the stoppage can NEVER be awarded a restart in their favour no matter WHY you initially stopped play for! It does not matter really matter you id this 12th player or he participates or not. The FACT is they HAVE 12 players they are NOT permitted to do so.

See what we mean by saying the Match is "invalid" or just royally screwed up ...

Call for Papers

We are calling for papers on...

Funny Stories while refereeing

Managing the Sidelines (Parents, Coaches and Fans)

If you would like to submit an article for publication on please email your article to In the subject line put article submission.

Editorial Guidelines

Your article must be soccer referee, or laws related.

The article must be your work. Please do not send us articles that you do not have reprint permission for.

Please proof and spell check your work.

You must include a short BIO at the end of your article stating your name, licenses, affiliations and a brief history of your experience.

If you have any questions you may contact MrRef

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>