Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 33235

Law 3 - The Players 4/11/2019

RE: Rec Under 13

Scott Cooper of Allen, TX USA asks...

Hi, I had called for a pk after defender handled the ball inside the penalty area. The keeper and one of the defenders on the field start switching gear so the defender could take the PK as a GK, effectively creating a substitution. My thinking at the time was this was a substitution not listed as a normal stoppage to substitute, just like a DFK but in the penalty area and I did not allow the change. As I talk shop with my peers, some thought it was fine to swap, so, searching for help. Was it ok for those 2 to swap, and a follow up, could a coach ask for a Gk substitution off the bench. Should be same thing, but, perhaps not.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Scott
Any field player can take on the role of goalkeeper at any time provided the referee is informed and it is done at a stoppage in play. The switch should have been allowed as there was a stoppage in play, the referee was informed and it was not a substitution just a swap of roles.
Put it like this. Say a goalkeeper is injured / hurt in the penalty offence incident and he cannot continue. What would happen! The team has to be allowed to put a player in goal either a substitute, provided it has not used all its substitutes, or an outfield player. If it had no substitutions available an outfield player would have to put on the goalkeeper jersey and take on the role of goalkeeper.
We also know that every eventuality must work in all instances in Law so if it is okay in the example I outlined it must all work in others including a requested change.
Now there can be competition rules that do not allow substitutions at certain times. Common sense has to prevail as well in the case of enforced substitutions through injury to a goalkeeper.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Scott,
while your decision was unfortunately a mistake, knowing now that you should have permitted it is how you learn from experience.
I suppose it does not really matter why but often in youth soccer, talented athletic kids are good at any number of positions due to exceptional reflexes and coordination so the striker who scores can often be the best keeper they have.
What we have is a SWITCH it is NOT a SUBSTITUTION!
The LOTG permit an outfield player to switch places with the keeper provided it is done at a stoppage and the referee is notified.
A keeper is in fact, but one, of the 11 players.
The LOTG only ask we designate one player from each team as the keeper, it does not matter which of the 11 as long as they are identified because THEY can use their hands when no one else can.
If there is a stoppage for a PK, the ROC (rules of the competition) might have a bylaw preventing this as a substitution opportunity. Yet if say the keeper feigned or actually was injured, if there was a substitution opportunity we would allow it! If the team has NOT used up all its substitution options but generally at the youth level it is unlimited!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Scott,
There is a specific section of the laws that addresses this situation. It is part of Law 3 - The Players, and goes as follows:

Any of the players may change places with the goalkeeper if:
- the referee is informed before the change is made
- the change is made during a stoppage in play''

So in the scenario you describe, the change should have been allowed. As my colleagues have pointed out, this is not a substitution, just a change of position/role for two of the players.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33235
Read other Q & A regarding Law 3 - The Players

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.