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Question Number: 34687

Law 3 - The Players 9/2/2022

RE: Competitive High School

Eric Frankowski of Longmont, CO United States asks...

A goalie commits a flafoul just outside his penalty area and is ejected from the game. His replacement enters the game but a field player fails to exit the pitch, leaving the team playing with 11 players.

The opposing team takes the free kick, with the box packed by team that committed the foul. The kick sails over the crossbar, for a goal kick. Before the goal kick is taken, the referee is informed that there are still 11 players on the field and stops play to recount. A field player is then taken off.

What is the appropriate ruling? Should the coach/bench be issued a yellow card? Should the free kick be retaken? Or does the game simply resume on a goal kick?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Eric,
a referee or the officials who are present should be aware of the dismissal and cognizant that the team was reduced to ten. A team requires a keeper, this meant a designated field player must exit to compensate for the new substitute keeper from the touchlines, given the former one (keeper but 1 of the 11 players) was sent off and shown a red card!

It appears the referee permitted the free kick when the defenders had too many players and only after the ball went into touch resulting in a goal kick restart was this discovered!

The fact it was the defending team who were in the wrong, there maybe no reason to do anything except ensure a player from the defending team is removed to put the number of players where it belongs (10) before the next restart (in this case a goal kick) which is just fine to be taken. . If the attackers had scored, it would have counted & the restart would be a kick off. Same if it was corner kick it would be taken by the attackers as part of normal play.

There could be a legitimate caution & a yellow card shown to the extra player for failing to exit the FOP, not for entering without permission, unless he left and then came back after Perhaps the caution is deemed mandatory or necessary under the rules/lOTG but this sounds like a screw up.

Technically when there is too many players, the extra player, when identified, should be cautioned but this sounds like more of a referee/officiating misstep error by not ensuring proper substitution procedures were followed. The coaching staff or management team might be guilty of misreading the situation as opposed to a deliberate action so a warning might be in order if true USB was in play in that the officials had directed the designated player to exit but he snuck back on, . Yet I feel the officials simply failed to recognize the situation for what it was. The referee might consider a retake after removing the defending designated player with no card shown perhaps sheepishly admitting it was hastily taken before they were ahem ready! An outside the box idea! that could be amicably accepted by both teams.

What could have happened if the shot at the goal was stopped by the ACTUAL individual player who was designated & known to the referee as the correct player to be replaced to allow the new keeper room.

The rational in the LOTG is when an situation occurs where the extra player is not interfering you CAN allow play to continue but IF that specific individual who was not legally permitted to be there was to directly affect the play that is a worthy stoppage for the free kick and a caution . From the info below you can plainly see ITOOTR still applies at the start of the stoppage whether to nix the opportunity or allow it!

• the referee must be informed before any substitution is made
• the player being substituted:
• receives the referee’s permission to leave the field of play, unless already
off the field, and must leave by the nearest point on the boundary line
unless the referee indicates that the player may leave directly and
immediately at the halfway line or another point (e.g. for safety/security
or injury)
• must go immediately to the technical area or dressing room and takes no
further part in the match, except where return substitutions are permitted
• if a player who is to be substituted refuses to leave, play continues
The substitute only enters:
• during a stoppage in play
• at the halfway line
• AFTER the player being replaced has left
• AFTER receiving a signal from the referee

he referee reports the incident to the appropriate authorities


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eric
Thanks for the question.
Poor mechanics got the referee crew into this situation which is never good. Prevention is always better than cure as they say so the referee crew should have been more attentive to the substitution process and ensuring that a field player left so that the defending team had only 10 players on the field of play.

While it was the defending team that had the extra player and that player did not interfere with play plus the referee allowed play to restart with the free kick so my opinion is that the referee should remove the extra player and restart with a goal kick. In fact had a goal been scored it would have been awarded and then the extra player dealt with as appropriate.
While perhaps harsh the extra player is cautioned despite the fact that the player did nothing wrong other than following the instructions of a coach and being allowed to stay on the field by the officials. Whether the coach should be cautioned that is a judgement call on how the situation arose and any explanation proffered in the aftermath of the incident.
The answer would be different if the extra player interfered with play and play was stopped in which case it would be a card followed by an indirect free kick.

As always there can be a solution that might sit better outside the rules where the referee might offer an apology, say a mistake was made by allowing play to restart before the player to be substituted left the field of play in which case the referee might roll the clock back the few seconds, remove that extra player with no cards and restart with the free kick. Many times these solutions depend on the attitude of the teams who can agree to a solution that is considered equitable in the circumstances. Mood, attitude in the game will also be factors along with perhaps score, time in the game etc.

I recall a situation many years ago when a goal was scored directly from a DB when it was kicked back to the goalkeeper who failed to catch the ball before it entered the goal. The answer in law at the time was to award the goal. I indicated that I made an error in the location of the restart and I went with the DB again from a different location which both teams had no problem with. The alternative which I had seen was for the scoring team to allow an uncontested goal from the kick off which to me was alien to the game although technically in law the only possible decision. The retake was more appropriate in my opinion. The current law is a goal kick on a "goal" scored directly from a DB so it does not arise any more.

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