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Question Number: 34709

Mechanics 9/25/2022

RE: Other

Jeremy of Portland, OR USA asks...

Is it bad practice to not allow a team to sub its own players when they are trying a fast restart?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jeremy
Substitution on a fast restart needs to be managed carefully. If all the conditions of a substitution have been met and a referee is informed on time it can be best to allow the substitution to take place. If however a team has the ball and it wants to get on instantly with play a referee could easily allow play to continue, most definitely when it is the substitute's team that is taking the restart or if the referee is only made aware of the request perhaps after the QFK
Rarely is a team going to berate a referee for something its own players have done such as getting on with play at a QFK. The substitution takes place at the next stoppage.

The more difficult one is where the defending team wants to make a substitution and the referee has to make a call based on the circumstances. Was the referee given enough time to react or was play restarted quickly before the referee was clearly informed. Was it a ploy to hold up play by the defending team? When is it happening in the game and is it on an injury?

All these factors can have a bearing on the referee's decision.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Jeremy,
common sense and a good observance of match protocols and player actions you should be able to deduce those occasional deviances of normal play to accommodate a scoring opportunity or attack but if the team with the restart is the one requiring the substitute and followed protocols and were ready at the mid-line it might be best to get the substitution done.

I have had coaches send players to the mid-line ahead of stoppages , We have a stoppage, now they indicate they are not ready and THAT is a waste of time & a delay of a restart, given the signal to indicate they WANTED to sub was their presence at the midline. I warn coaches to be sure whatever tactical instructions they wish conveyed be given before they go to the midline as I EXPECT the substitution to be done at that time. Delaying restarts is a cautionable offence. Stay on the bench or within the technical area until you are READY to be substituted! Once you exit and go to the midline you are informing the 4th or AR and the referee you are READY to be substituted at the NEXT legal opportunity! With mass subs and unlimited opportunities a great deal of time can be used up if it goes haywire!

While substitution procedures at the grass root & youth levels require adherence to protocols simply due to the mass confusion of unlimited subs occasionally a referee will be presented with a conundrum of a quick restart versus outgoing players & incoming substitutes. ROC (rules of the competition) and league bylaws often dictate the substitution arrangements as does the discretion of the referee.

Often such restrictions as, only on your possession or if the other team also substitutes on theirs. Not on free kicks or penalty kicks. Limited to 2 or 3 players at a time etc... Generally a substitute can only come in directly off the bench ahead of being at midline waiting in cases of an injury or a keeper ejection. Yet a fundamental aspect of referee discretion is in cases where substitutes are ready at the midline could still be permitted on the opposition's possession as say an injury timeout, a corner kick or throw in where the ball has exited and there is a long enough delay where the substitution is not affecting the restart in any significant way. In fact it uses wasted time to get it done!

Also how a team is reacting and proceeding on their free kicks or ball possession restarts if they show no immediacy or desire to get underway or perhaps are dragging their feet to use up time may also factor into how a referee might decide a substitution could occur! It is CRUCIAL not to deny a legal substitution by a team (as long as all protocells /procedures were met!) even in the dying moments of a match just because a referee thinks it's unnecessary.

I have witnessed a denial of a substitution where a coach had sent a sub to the mid-line ahead of the stoppage was looking to be replace a player in distress but play was permitted to go ahead. This player cramped up immediately upon trying to stay with the opponent who gained ball possession & scored . Defending coach was livid as that was the player he wanted to replace knowing he was in distress. Given it was a tactical decision the referee had no business denying it! A referee can always add a few seconds to make up for it. It is exactly as my colleague stated the circumstances must be evaluated and common sense applied!

Given such things as limited field time and scheduling they (league officials) require the matches be played with limited delays. This is why all subs are required to be at the half mid-line waiting to be signalled, - BEFORE - any stoppage, which indicates they are to substitute at the next opportunity. Thus, at a convenient stoppage the referee is already aware they are ready to go and makes plans accordingly. Also a referee should indicate to reassure coaches that he is aware of time and will add it as needed so they are not as anxious or worried if you do delay a restart that they might have wanted. How observant you are and how quickly things unfold will play a part in your decision but once you began the sub procedure you do not halt it . Get it done and then continue otherwise confusion is in the air and dissent will reign down upon you! lol

The screams of SUBS by the touchlines are truly unnecessary if the officials working a match follow proper procedures . WHAT is NECCESSARY is officials clearly understand who is leaving and who is replacing by ensuring no one (s) comes on until the one (s) being replaced have exited To that end I suggest that outgoing players raise their hand stepping out at the nearest point along any touch or goal line to indicate they are off the FOP and ONLY then does a referee signal a substitute to then enter the FOP. The ARs or 4th should ensure no mass group rush occurs as this is where 11 versus 12 often occurs!

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Jeremy,

It's a good question, and there are a few factors that will come into play here.

At grassroots, especially when we don't have an AR, (often playing unlimited interchange) usually all we get is a scream of 'SUB REF' when the ball is out of play. When there's a quick restart, I think it's okay to have some momentary deafness. And particularly when this happens AND the sub is still sitting down somewhere with their bib on, I'm not going to be delaying a quick restart there. And for me to allow a sub, I need to first look over, mentally confirm I heard what I through I heard, and assess whether they're ready to make it - by the time I've even looked over the restart has probably occurred, so I don't think it's reasonable to take it back. Just a quick shout of 'next out thanks coach!' acknowledges it. If my only chance to react is as they're already taking the restart - or they've just taken it - then they can wait.

Along those lines, at lower grade games in particular it's not unusual for an indecisive coach to not call for a sub until the other team is just about to take the restart even if it's taken a good few seconds to get there. Unless that player stops of their own accord, then I'll usually tell them to wait until the next stoppage - this tends to happen more in lower grade games with unlimited subs.

If subs are being performed more properly - ie the sub is already standing there waiting for the next out, and especially when it's managed by an AR (and particularly when we're playing limited substitutions), I would find it more difficult to deny that sub - but at least then, you also know that it was planned and it wasn't just a tactical shout to try deny a quick restart.

There's another instance where I might briefly become hard of hearing - where I spent most of my years refereeing, we had strict instructions to not apply any stoppage time (you might get a similar thing at a tournament). In those instances, I would develop a peculiar bout of deafness in the last minute of any half.

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