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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33134

Law 3 - The Players 3/11/2019

RE: Under 14

Jeff of Carmel, IN US asks...

U13 boys Championship game. I'm the center ref with about 10 minutes left in a tied game I made sure the coaches both knew that if the game ends in a tie there is no OT and only the 11 players on the field will be able to participate in the shoot out per tournament rules. Also by the rules subs were only allowed on your possession for a throw in or both teams for a goal kick. With about a minute left on a green team thrown in one of the gray team players went down with a cramp. I stopped the throw in and waved to the coach who came out to help the player off and sub in a new player. The kid that went off was walking fine and smiling. I don't think there was anything I could really do about what appeared to be a fake injury. The green coach was livid about the sub saying the coach told the kid to go down, but I could only call what I saw. Is there anything else I could have done? Also fate was not with the green team and gray won on the shoot out.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Jeff,
integrity is the gift of self respect we give ourselves. We can imagine the reasoning but in the end as a referee you are not a mind reader or a medical practitioner you are a young referee trying to manage a game for fun for those under your care.

I am not a big fan of altered substitution rules.

The unlimited subs for kids is an easy situation to manage, it basically allows for unlimited subs usually 2 or 3 at a time at a stoppage on their possession of the ball or if the other team ALSO subs on their possession, or occasionally at the referees sole discretion in there is no reason NOT To allow a substitution, but, ONLY if the substitutes are already at the mid-line ahead of the stoppage.

I grant you in most youth games an injury is the exception where we will allow a player to actually come in in directly off the bench without ever have been at the mid line waiting to replace a player unable to continue or in need of treatment. We can generally do so, as a referee has discretion in when substitutes can occur. You are implying what the Green coach is stating, he certainly has that impression & you are doubtful there is an injury and suspects a late substitute but for what end? A sneaky ploy to get a better PK shooter in?

Injuries are a separate issue and in this case perhaps you could have suggested they play short while he is treated off the FOP? You did state you were aware of substitution policy of when or how subs are to be conducted? If this player does not return before the match ends, and is unable to continue you can reduce to equate.

I will add this subs are a TACTICAL part of the game. It is NOT a referees' job to look for ways to NOT to allow a legal substitution. I have seen referees point to watches and say no subs due to a time winding down. That is NOT a legitimate excuse to stop a legitimate sub. Are procedures being followed? Is there a player waiting at the mid-line? Is there a actually stoppage? While we do not have to allow a substitute on the other team's dime if the restart is a quick one. Referees should have discretion and the ability to add time when necessary. Unfortunately tight field scheduling, local bylaws & association policies and just general ignorance create may hurdles for referees to overcome.

I recall two very clear incidents where the referee makes a mess that causes no end of headaches one very short the other more agonizing but both critical. .

One: a defender was noticeably limping his coach asked to sub had a substitute was ready at the mid-line but as time was nearly up the referee refused the substitute because there was only seconds left . Guess which defender, cramped could not stay with play and his marker scores 10 seconds later to win the match?

Two: the ball is kicked a long way into touch, it is a hot day and players took to the touchlines to get a drink. One stepped outside the touchlines in doing so. The referee took exception & showed a yellow card for leaving the FOP without permission, given it was his 2nd yellow, a red card followed. This was hugely controversial occurring in the final minutes of the match. It was, to paraphrase a spectators disbelief,,just plain Dumb! So now our referee allows a substitute to replace this ejected player claiming he has not restarted play so they do not have to play short. Rather than add time it went to a PK shoot out because the field was scheduled for the next match. right away. The team that had the sent off player replaced wins the shootout! Can you guess what happened? The opposite coach protests citing the send off and why was he allowed to be replaced?


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeff
Sometimes competition rules do not work as intended. This altered substitution rule no doubt is to prevent spurious doubtful substitutions occurring that disrupts the flow of play and also eating up more time than gets added on particularly near the end of games. The rule was not intended to prevent a change that allows a team to introduce a player for an injured player or a kicker / goalkeeper for KFTPM.
Now the coach and team seems to have gamed the situation to its benefit and unless it was specifically not allowed then there is nothing that we as referees can do in such situations. We are not doctors nor mind readers and we allow what is requested based on the rules.
Now I assume that Gray was entitled to a substitution for an injury on the opponents throw in. If that was the rule then so be it. A referee cannot assess injuries which frankly is none of our concern. Once a team declares a players is injured, even despite our doubts or that of others, that is all that matters. It has to be accepted.
As to what others think that is also none of our concern once the laws and rules are followed. The Green coach may have been livid and perhaps had justification in the rule being abused when he believed that Gray had gamed the situation yet he must also understand that is not up to referees to decide on fitness of players and a teams right to sub out an injured player within the Laws

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Jeff,
In common with Ref Dawson, I am not a fan of altered substitution laws. You don't say which set of rules/laws were in force in this game but under the IFAB's Laws of the Game, the kind of changes you mention, are not allowed.

Having said that, if you have agreed to officiate in a competition using such a form of regulations them you have basically agreed to enforce their substitution provisions.

I agree with my colleagues that the referee is not there (and not authorized) to judge whether a player is injured and assuming the rules did allow for an injured player to substituted then you have little choice but to allow an injury substitution when called for by the team.

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