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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 32021

Law 3 - The Players 11/14/2017

RE: Rec & Competitive, ages 9+ Other

Raymond of San Francisco, CA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 32016

Hi gentlemen. I've been working as a referee for several months now, and I find your ongoing Q & A on the LOTG to be invaluable. Thank you very much for all the time you put into sharing your knowledge and years of experience.

This section of Law Three drives me a little bonkers. The logic seems simple enough--if a player comes on without permission and interferes, award a DFK/PK. If you stop play without interference, it's not as big a deal, so just award an IFK. So far, so good.

As you note in your response, though, the law also states that you should stop play only in case of interference. I read that clause to mean that, barring interference, you're supposed to allow play to continue to a natural stoppage; caution & remove the extra player; and restart based on the reason that play just stopped (e.g. throw in, GK, etc.).

Can you clarify what is intended by the law? If a player interferes, that's simple and the call is easy. But, in light of the clause telling you to stop play only in case of interference, how would you frame the decision to stop play when the extra player isn't interfering?

Thanks again.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Raymond
I can see your frustration here as there are variety of options depending on the circumstances. Let me start by saying that a team should never have an extra player on the field of play. As soon as that happens and is noticed the referee should manage that situation as best he can. He can play advantage if it benefits the opponents. If at all possible he should try to wait until the game is stopped, caution the extra player and restart with the normal restart. Now it gets more difficult in an attacking situation by the 12 person team as scoring with an extra player is a no no. In that case the restart is a direct free kick where the extra person was located. That can be messy and the issue is around the location of the restart. It is an easier decision as to the location of the restart when the extra player interferes with play close to the ball. If he does not interfere close to the ball then the restart can be elsewhere on the field of play. So what I believe that IFAB is trying to prevent is say play at one end of the field and an extra person is on the field at the other end not interfering. That is all fine and well provided no goal has or can be been scored. So it is a judgement call based on what is happening in the game or for that matter likely to happen. A goal with 12 player is certainly not allowed under any circumstances.
In a recent Underage game I was an AR on the far side away from the technical area. Anyway it became a very one sided game and the teams started making multiple substitutions. Some substituted players decided to exit the field of play on the opposite side to go directly to the changing room. One substituted player decided to stay on. Anyway the AR on the technical side who was dealing with the substitutions noticed that a substituted player did not leave the field of play as intended. He got lost in the multiple changes and the two exit points. The AR waited until a natural stoppage to inform the referee so the restart was easy enough. The major difficulty would have occurred had a goal been scored although the team with the extra player was so far behind chalking off a goal would not have mattered. The restart location though would matter from being compliant with the Law
The best advice is that prevention is better than cure.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Raymond,
we thank you for the kind words. All the panel members are great at sharing their time and experience in support of the beautiful game.
Simple thinking clarifies most situation.
A correct use of the he advantage clause allows us a brief time to consider the team NOT having the extra player having an attack or shot opportunity there is no reason to stop play to punish them for the mistake by the other team.
Hence we can wait for a favorable outcome but if one does not develop and the team of too many regain possession of the ball . A whistle stoppage INDFK and a caution to the 12th player corrects the imbalance .
It is not often a substitute warming up in behind the goal will run onto the field to interfere with play or a player who is sent off to be treated for an injury arbitrarily decides to intervene onto the field to interfere with play without the permission of the referee. Rightly so these are DFK offences and cautionable USB easily described as unfair interference. An unfortunate aspect of 12 on the field is it often occurs in the youth matches or recreational adults where unlimited or large scale substitutions occur. It is CRUCIAL to have good substitution procedures in place and follow them to prevent 3 eager players running onto the field but only two exit and this being sanctioned by the referee whose carelessness, lack of attention or a bit of bad timing to proper procedures allowed the situation to occur rather than any nefarious intent by a 12 year old.

I know because I am a stickler for subs ONLY at center, BEFORE the restart, only at my signal and only until those leaving are OFF the FOP. They raise their arm once off the field , only then do the subs dare enter the FOP as I wave them in. .

A stoppage occurs blue want to sub three in I look at the end of the field I see 1 blue player step off near the far touchline another exited at the goal line and one on the near touchline so I wave all three waiting subs on.
A short while later I notice 12 blue players . I was unaware the blue player on the goal line had actually been walking around to go to the washroom from the bench area and was waving to his parents in the stands. He was never on the field at all. SIGH. WE remove one player and NO I did not caution myself or anyone for my mistake

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Raymond,
I think the reasoning behind the law as it now stands goes something like this. At one time, the law simply said that if a substitute (or under current wording, an extra player) came onto the pitch, ''play is stopped.'' This meant that there was no discretion on the referee's part to allow play to continue. So if a team felt under pressure from a promising attack or were about to concede a goal, theoretically all they would have to do would be to send an extra player onto the field and play would immediately have to be stopped, even if the ball were 60 yards away from where the player came on.

So to avoid this possibility, the law was altered to say that play could be allowed to continue if there was no interference. The overall intent is still that at some point the extra player should be cautioned and removed, it just doesn't have to be straight away.

I'll admit that the current wording is a little clumsy and as written, could be taken to mean that play must continue indefinitely until or unless there is interference. However what I think is intended (and seems the more common sense and 'spirit of the law' interpretation) is that the referee only needs to stop play immediately if there is interference but if there is no interference and play does not go on too long, you can wait until a natural stoppage. In this regard, I think the wording used prior to 2016 was better, when it stated that in this situation:

''the referee stops play (although not immediately if the substitute or substituted player does not interfere with play)''

I'm not quite sure why the wording was changed to the current format but I don't believe for a moment that the intent was for a referee to allow play to continue for ten or twenty minutes if the ball does not go out of play, with an extra player wandering around the field the whole time, just because they don't get close to the ball.

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