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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 30620

Law 3 - Number of Players 7/19/2016

RE: Professional

Naser alghafari of AMMAN, AMMAN JORDAN asks...

This question is a follow up to question 26725

Substitute player enter the field instead of a player in the interval time without referee permission and scored a goal, in this moment referee discovered that before restart , what is the decision ?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Naser,

This is a slightly tricky one and as my fellow refs have indicated, the referee could take a different approach depending on the type of game (if there are unlimited subs, for example).

The Laws of the Game say that a goal is only valid if the team scoring the goal has not committed an offence previously. Technically, in the situation you describe an offence has taken place (an unauthorised player has entered the field of play). In a game with limited subs, this is fairly clearl offence and since the referee had noticed this before play restarted, the goal should be ruled out and the player who entered the field without permission should be cautioned.

However, in a game with unlimited subs, teams will often make changes at half time and the assumption often is that this is done with the tacit approval of the referee. So in such games, we have a less clear situation. If you consider the half-time substitution was legitimate, you would not need to do anything.

Now, the Laws say that if the provisions for substitutions are contravened, "the players are cautioned" but assuming I understand your post correctly, since the other player left the field at the half time interval, that would not be considered as leaving the field without permission (the normal scenario if an unauthorised substitution had taken place) and so I would think it harsh to caution the player who left the field at halftime.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Naser
An interesting scenario and one that does happen. At the lower levels of the game there can be a somewhat more relaxed approach and it is a good idea for a referee to ask the teams whether either has made a substitutions or not during the half time break.
Now I recall last season a substitution was made at half time without my knowledge and I neglected to ask the question. When I noticed the change I waited until the next stoppage and spoke with the player. Strictly under the law I was obliged to stop play if there was no advantage to the opponents , caution the substitute, complete the substitution procedure and restart with an IDFK from where the ball was when play was stopped. I chose otherwise just informing the player that he should have informed me and that his entry was technically a caution for entering without permission. He apologised for not doing so and I checked his equipment, noted his number and the game resumed. No goal had been scored and it was within the first few minutes when I noticed the change.
Now many referees do not see it as a serious offence as the team may be entitled to the substitution and it can just be an oversight at a busy time for teams and officials. When equipment is fully in order it is also less of an issue. In underage there can be rolling substitutions which one can take that the 11 on the field of play at the start of the second half are the 11 to restart with the substitution having no effect on play or the game.
At the higher levels of the game it is less likely to happen so it rarely arises.
In your scenario the strict approach is to disallow the goal, caution the substitute for entering without permission, complete the substitution procedure correctly and restart with an IDFK in the goal area. As the player that left is no longer present and he may be oblivious to the events so no caution is required for that player. If it happened during play then both are cautioned for entering and leaving without permission.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

If this is a competition with unlimited substitutions with right of return, then the referee should do nothing. Having the correct number of players on the field is the ref's tacit approval of any substitutions made at halftime.

That said, it is technically illegal. The goal should be rescinded, and both players cautioned. But again, that should only be enforced in games following normal substitution rules.

It gets stickier if it's the goalkeeper who is switched - if the ref gave a caution to the player in the spiderman shirt in the first half and didn't recognize that player now is wearing #8, the ref might miss a second caution.

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