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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33168

Law 3 - The Players 3/20/2019

RE: Grass Roots Adult

Irishkeeper of Old Toongabbie, NSW Australia asks...

If a team has less than seven players because the others have been sent to the temporary dismissal area does the referee abandon the game as one side has less than seven players on the FOP?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The Law is mute on this point as it does not envisage a situation where there would be at least five players in the *sin-bin* at the same time.
The Law does state that a game must not continue with fewer than seven players. It does not say that it has to be abandoned in cases where there is potential for the game to resume with seven players so the referee could wait the few minutes until one of the binned players is eligible to participate again.
In the past the former IFAB Questions and Answers stated that in the event of an injury to a player which reduced a team to six players that the referee should wait for the injured player to return and then resume the game. If the injured player could not return the game should be abandonded.
If the same thinking is brought to the temporary dismissal situation then the referee could wait until the first player to be removed is eligible to return and restart the game.
As to a team abusing the sin bin situation to what it thinks is its advantage by an abandonment or otherwise, competition organisers throughout the world take a very dim view of such behaviour usually resulting in the game being awarded to its opponents and a hefty fine.
I suppose the astute referee may take account of the player number situation and decide accordingly how to manage the game going forward with multiple players in the sin bin. It also depends if the competition is using System A or System B for temporary dismissals. In System B only certain cautions are considered such as inappropriate behaviour e.g. dissent, delaying a restart, simulation. Having five players temporarily dismissed for inappropriate behaviour all within 10 minutes of each other would be rare whereas there could be five USB cautions within 10 minutes.
I suspect that with five players in the sin bin the game may have descended into disorder so unless behaviour changes the best decision may be to abandon. That would have serious consequences for the team causing that to happen.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

It is a black hole conundrum is it not, as the potential for it to occur, albeit astronomically infinitesimal, it could occur? Like two offside players arriving at he ball at the same time from different teams. I could think as my colleague such a match is likely out of control and possibly should be terminated if the behavior is so erratic but that said I would just add the time at the stoppage and recommence when we were at 7 again. If I had not already decided to abandon.

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