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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 20143

League Specific 10/4/2008

RE: Adult

Melvin Hagerman of Colorado Springs, Colorado U.S.A. asks...

Recently I watched a match (TV) where the following happened.

A defender, #35, from the visiting team was struck in the face during a heading battle; his nose bled enough to get blood on his uniform. The center ref sent him to the sidelines under the blood rule.
After a couple of minutes to complete treatment (no more bleeding) and get a blank shirt, the defender tried to go back in, but the fourth stopped him from going in. This went on for several minutes, as the coaches were asking the fourth what the problam was, and the fourth wouldn't give an answer. The visiting team tried putting a blank (no number/name) jersey, then the jersey #35 with blood spots still on it (after trying to wash it off), then ried using another substitute's jersey, #27, with the name taped over and presumably the bloodied player's name printed on--no go each time. The last time, the fourth was seen ordering the team staff to the visiting bench, repeating the order to 'Sit Down!' Finally the visitors were forced to substitute another player into the game. (Even worse, the player who was bloodied was originally a substitute!)

First, what if anything was done wrong by the visiting team, or by the fourth official? And what is (are) the rule(s) to cover this situation?
Unless league rules (here, USL-1 [USA second division]) don't allow players to wear jerseys with no number or a different number on it, that is the only thing that I can think of.

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

It is possible, that in spite of what the team staff and or player thought, the player was still bleeding sufficiently that the fourth official could not okay him to return to the match, or perhaps the player's pupils were dilated, indicating a possible head injury.

It may not have been the fourth, but the team personnel who messed up. We'll ask about and see if we can come up with an answer.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Melvin,
although this appears like a screw up to me my colleague touches on a valid point perhaps there was more here than just the jersey issue?
Switching the jersey should not be a complicated process and the rules of the competition surely must recognize that not every team has a same numbered coloured jeresey just waiting to be put on. A bit of tape to turn say an 11 into 111 or an H should be enough of a identification. We have no idea what the issue was, you may be 100% correct but if that was the fact and it went unresolved seems utterly stupid! br> The match in question Rochester Rhinos @ Charleston Battery in the 2nd leg of the USL-1 quarter finals. We will look into it and see if we can sort out the details to establish the truth of the matter!

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Answer provided by Referee MrRef

I have done some special research and here is what I have found... the following are the facts:

Two Rochester players collided and one ended up with a bloody nose. The trainer attended to him on the field and he went off at the goal line. They walked around to the bench to treat the bleeding. The player then requested entry from the 4th official at the halfway line. There were extensive spots of blood on the front of his shirt and on the right sleeve so he could not enter until the blood on his shirt was cleaned off. Rochester unsuccessfully attempted to clean the blood off the shirt. The player again requested entry but the 4th was not satisfied that the jersey was cleaned but merely wiped at. The 4th wanted the jersey cleaned off properly or to have the player put on a new uniform. His manager instructed him to change with a recently substituted player. The 4th said he could not use a jersey already worn by a player or a named substitute. The 4th official would not permit the player to wear a uniform of a rostered substitute or substituted player and he would have to find an alternative uniform. The team had no such alternative uniform available. The team's bench had several individuals protesting this decision including subs, trainers, and coaches, which is more than the one allowed standing coach, and dissent is considered unacceptable behavior. The bench staff was informed that persisting in this behavior would be considered unacceptable. At this point the manager from Rochester elected to use a substitute as they believed they had exhausted all other options.

Rochester was playing with 10 players for about five minutes in a play-off game.

Some thoughts on the situation:

Though the 4th official was correct by the absolute letter of the law regarding the bloody uniform, the spirit of the game dictates that both teams should be competing with 11 players. So the use of a substituted player's shirt could be a reasonable fix provided that the opposing team, stadium announcer, scorekeeper/press box, TV/radio, and of course the referee and AR's are all informed of the number change.

Then all you have to do is simply put the facts in your game report. This would satisfy the spirit of the game and wouldn't really 'break' the laws so much as 'bend' them. Perhaps a creative solution is required to deal with a very unusual situation on such a big stage.

But imagine that you are the 4th official here on national TV. What would you do when faced with such a problem... Sometimes hind sight is 20/20

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