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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34199

Law 3 - The Players 4/14/2021

RE: Under 19

george of New York, New York Unites States asks...

A big pet peeve of mine as a referee is with subs wearing pinnies/bibs. I now include it in my very short pregame to players during check-in to wear it all the way like a jersey. Yet I still run into, quite frequently, where players will still just have it in their hand or neck, not wearing it at midfield while waiting to sub, not wearing it on the bench, etc. It has annoyed me to the point where I may start not allowing a team to bring subs on unless their players are wearing their pinnies the whole time including standing at midfield until the whistle is blown when they can take it off.

Am I coming across as too dictatorial by possibly doing this? I feel that it is such a simple thing for them to do it doesn't restrict their movement in any way. Its one and only purpose is basically to prevent an AR having a goal being incorrectly scored/taken away due to confusion with offside, and I KNOW that if this happens with a team not wearing the bibs, the coach won't be understanding at all.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi George
Personally I think you are making too much work for yourself here and creating a problem for yourself and the game that you don't need. If a 4th official was available then that official can deal with it. As a referee who is trying to concentrate fully on the game then I would not be getting distracted with this.

If your concern is that it will interfere with an ARs view of players then the simple solution to that problem is in the pregame instructions to insist that both sets of substitutes with a max of two at a time warm up behind the technical area side AR which then means that no substitute will be in eyeline / view of any assistant. That AR can ask for bibs as well but if not fully complied with then it is not going to matter very much.

If substitutes ignore that instruction then ask the AR that is distracted to bring it to your attention at a stoppage and to not allow the game to restart until the warming up substitutes move from the AR's eyeline to behind the AR on the technical area side.

If the other concern is the view into the technical area by the AR then insist that only substitutes that are warming up can be standing or moving in that area. Again leave it to the AR and his view across to the technical area to pick up if jerseys are effecting his eyeline or concentration or judgement. If the AR is content with his view then don't sweat the small stuff. If the AR on the technical area side is having a problem ask him to sort it by moving substitutes / technical staff back and if he can't then advise him to bring it to your attention at the next stoppage. I certainly would not be getting involved in the situation where a substitute is waiting to come on and that substitute has to wearing a bib. If the player is stood at half way and a substitution is about to happen then we are talking seconds here and that is not going to affect anything even offside. Even at the highest level FIFA / MLS, etc do not insist on that and we see substitutes stood beside 4th officials with no bibs waiting to come on at the next stoppage.

The LotG supports the requirement for substitutes to sit in the technical area while bibs etc, plus warming up instructions are only part of the rules of competition and in many cases are not even covered in there.

I have been a referee plus an assistant for a long time and I have yet to see an incident involving substitutes where a goal has been incorrectly scored/taken away due to confusion with offside due to substitutes. I have seen and been involved in many situations where AR concentration has been affected by players in their eyeline looking across the FOP or up the touchline yet in many instances it was more to do with players not following the warm up instructions. Once the game is stopped to deal with it the problem always get sorted with the substitute moving behind the technical area side AR.

I hope that helps

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi George,
I concur with my colleagues, the pinnies idea never really posed a problem I was aware of? Not sure why you find it so memorizing? Lots of time there are no pinnies at all, my big deal about subs is they be at the midline checked and ready to go BEFORE the substitution opportunity?

If there is a technical area with a reliable 4th I foresee zero issues. The AR line of sight along the touchlines is a necessity and if the team is not following some simple stay out-of-the-way instructions as they warm-up or filter out into the field trying to follow play, well that can be dealt with on an as-needed basis. Look here where a causal effort to assist by the sub warming up results in a harsh consequence! Given there are such consequences do you think substitute players would risk being involved?

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