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Question Number: 32750

Law 3 - The Players 9/27/2018

RE: Adult

Chuck of Phoenix, Arizona USA asks...

Another referee and I were debating the laws regarding substitutions. My understanding is that a substitution is allowed at any stoppage of play, with the permission of the referee. This includes corner kicks. The other ref believes that this does not apply to corner kicks. Your thoughts?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Chuck
You are 100% correct. A substitution can take place at any stoppage including a corner kick, penalty kick, free kick etc
Law 3 states
** The substitute only enters:
# during a stoppage in play
# at the halfway line
# after the player being replaced has left
# after receiving a signal from the referee**

A corner kick is a stoppage in play

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Chuck,
My colleague Ref McHugh has given you the standard guidelines
although the LOTG allow for substitutions at ANY stoppage includes corner kicks in a FIFA regulation match they also allow modifications to the substitution rule for youth & older aged players. There are BYLAWS in both tournament and regular competition that prohibit substitutions on certain instances.

It is easy to get confused as an inexperienced referee if you do a lot of these variable substitution matches. I have seen tournaments with no added time , no subs on corners unless it was theirs or on free kicks unless it was theirs, not on PKs etc., if coach comes in player must leave on injury

The one thing THAT is true in ANY match the referee decides when & who comes on at his discretion as long as the PROPER procedures are in place.

A referee must not decide against a legal substitution if the team requesting one is entitled and has followed proper procedures.

We had a very competent referee doing a top level match who choose to not permit a substitute on a throw in for the blue team by a blue player who was already standing at midfield BEFORE the stoppage, there was only 30 or so seconds left.

The issue was a blue defender was limping about in some distress the coach wisely wanted him off in favor of a player not hindered so.

The tournament bylaws stated the substitution could occur at any stoppage in favor of the team with the restart & the other team could substitute only on their own restarts or if the other team did also.

There was a limit of 3 substitutes to enter the FOP at one time but only of they were AT center before the restart. The exception to this was in case of an injury a player could come in off the bench directly at the midline.

Time was nearly out the referee unwisely said no possibly thinking the match was almost is over its a waste of time and on the throw in the blue team lost possession, the green team who put a long ball forward right at the limping blue defender who was outhustled to the ball and green scored on the cross in tying the match at 2 to 2 forcing a shootout which blue lost. Lets just say the tent discussion got VERY heated that day! The key point here while referee has authority to manage substitutions there was no reason to disallow the substitution as time CAN be added & it is not wasting time it is using up time legally.

In a non regulated substitution policy match abiding by FIFA LOTG a referee CAN allow the opposition red player to enter on a green corner but would likely take into consideration if there was any disadvantage to do so? In cases where say a long ball goes out requiring retrieval there is little concern they are taking it quickly be it corner or goal same on throw in or on a ceremonial free kick. . The BIG difference is in the NUMBER of substitution opportunities say 3 to 5 in adult play where's as youth with unlimited in and outs you could use up a lot of time if PROCEEDURES are not followed!

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Chuck,
If you're referring to games played under the IFAB's Laws of the Game, you are entirely correct - substitutions can be made at any stoppage with the referee's permission. As you may be aware, this is not the case under the NFHS Rules for soccer - so perhaps your referee colleague is getting confused by the different NFHS regulations in this regard?

However, since your question referred to an adult game, NFHS rules would not be in force.

I should perhaps also mention that although, as ref Dawson mentions, the IFAB does allow some modifications to the law on substitutes, that only applies to the use of return substitutes and the total number of substitutes. Although some may do so, competitions should not be making changes to which stoppages are opportunities for subs to come on.

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