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: 33689

Law 3 - The Players 10/3/2019

RE: Competitive Under 19

David A Bermingham of Herndon, VA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33685

If this were to occur in a match with unlimited substitutions the answer may be a bit less straightforward since I don't know of any official who keeps track of the active players by number in these types of matches. Unless the players haven't yet left the field or for some reason that individual sticks in your mind as having been on the field at the end of the half, you won't know for certain if you are dismissing a player, substitute or substituted player. Only in the first instance would the team play down a player at the start of the second half. In the latter instances the team would just have one less available sub. If you guess the offender's status and are somehow provably wrong it could be protested, unless the rules of competition give some level of ITOOR-type cover. Correct?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi David
Yes good point and it shows up one of vagaries of unlimited substitutions and the referee keeping a track of same.
In the absence of certainty by the referee he has to consider what to do. If he is certain it was a player on the field of play before half time then the team plays short. If he is unsure with perhaps no independent confirmation such as an assistant he has to decide whether to take the word of the team or not.
If there is no confirmation either way with the team claiming he was substituted then that has to be accepted. Depending on how the situation unfolded the opponents might just think it was a substitution. If it was violent conduct between two players with one team playing short then they will have an opinion as to whether the player was on the FOP or not. In which case for me both teams play short.
I suppose participation is key at Underage so with unlimited substitutions players get more game time with 11 rather than 10.
We know what the technical answer is yet getting to the actual decision may prove to be more difficult. I would say that unless there was unrefutable evidence to contradict the referees decision then no protest is possible.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi David,
the LOTG allow for unlimited substitutions in a youth match. Given there is no documented way to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt in these cases a one less available substitute is probably the preferred route than to render a short handed verdict. That said, if it WAS crystal clear and in your opinion he was a player, I do not believe there is an avenue to protest without conclusive proof to the contrary because the opinion of a neutral referee on a fact of play is sacrosanct .

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 33689
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 free 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. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>