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: 34810

Law 3 - The Players 12/20/2022

RE: Emeritus Regional Referee Grade 16 Adult

Marc Boman of Walpole, MA USA asks...

According to “post-game analysis has revealed that Messi's second goal, scored in the 108th minute, shouldn't have actually stood because as Hugo Lloris saved the shot from Lautaro Martinez and the ball rebounded into Messi's path, Argentinian substitutes were already on the pitch, preparing to celebrate despite the ball not having crossed the goal line.” The article argues that this result was mandatory under Paragraph 9 of Law 3, which states:
"If, after a goal is scored, the referee becomes aware before play resumes that an additional person was on the pitch at the time the goal was scored: the referee must disallow the goal if the extra person was: a player, substitute, substituted player, sent off player or official of the team who scored the goal play must be restarted with a direct free kick from the place where the extra person was." This text seems very explicit, but my guess is that you’d agree with me that this was a “doubtful and trifling” offense and that to deny the goal on account of it would have brought the game and the referee into disrepute. Your advice given at the following url seems applicable: Do you agree?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Marc
Thanks for the question
It is also covered under Section 7 which states and I quote
"" If a team official, substitute, substituted or sent-off player or outside agent enters the field of play, the referee must:
# only stop play if there is interference with play
# have the person removed when play stops
# take appropriate disciplinary action ""

As the substitutes had no impact whatsoever on play the decision to award the goal was appropriate. I suspect that given the timing of the goal and celebrations that it was probably decided not to issue any cautions.

Section 9 could also apply however it would be somewhat at odds with Section 7 which is more appropriate to the situations of an extra person that would not be doubtful or trifling yet deliberate intrusion into play.

I put this apparent paradox in Sections 7 and 9 to IFAB when it was first stated in the law book and the official response I received stated and I quote
** The referee must judge the exact nature /reason for the extra person being on the field of play and if there was no impact at all then the goal could be allowed.**

What I took from that is if a team had 12 players participating in play the goal would be disallowed as it has a clear impact yet if was a substitute bringing on a water bottle to a player at the other end of the field that should not result in the goal being disallowed.

Perhaps the situation in the WC might result in a rewrite to tidy up the contrariant to prevent the wordsmiths giving explicit opinions.

As a final point I would say that I was disappointed in the lack of control of the technical areas throughout the tournament. Substitutes on many occasions did not appear to be warming up yet watching the game from the touchline and getting involved in retrieving balls etc. In the final I noticed one substitute kicking the ball away to prevent a quick restart.
After a goal I get the emotion of a goal being scored yet does it mean that every substitute has to leave the technical area to get involved in goal celebrations? At least FIFA added on the time lost in these excessive celebrations. In one Brazil game players and substitutes engaged in a choregraphed dance celebration and then repeated it again in the technical area with the manager.
The law book states **Players can celebrate when a goal is scored, but the celebration must not be excessive choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time-wasting.*
Teams abuse the kick off law at all levels and I think that needs to be looked at to prevent these lengthy *stoppages*. Clearly it is not working as it stands so an alternative is required. Personally I think a simple way is allow the kick off at the referees discretion without the need for players to be in their own half. Or do we needs a kick off after a goal. What about a kick from the penalty D and players can be located anywhere even off the field if they so chose!!

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Marc,
you are looking too hard to find a punishment. While it is by definition in the LOTG not permitted for non players to enter the FOP. we also look at the totality of the situation and in this case, its trifling with no impact on the match or players. If they had swarmed the field creating problems then no doubt they could and should be booked! If there was an ACTIVE Sub participating BEFORE the goal then the goal could be nullified by the direct impact that player had on play a caution and removal of that extra person is in order. In the passion and excitement of such a special moment in history there is no place for gotcha stuff . Let the players decode the match not an unbendable rule book . LAW 18 is the common sense spirit guide of unmentioned bendable aspects of rigid laws.
Merry Christmas

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Marc,
As ref McHugh points out, there is a bit of a contradiction in the laws over this issue (and it's not the only such instance, by the way).

While I think it would be preferable for the IFAB to resolve this by rewriting the relevant passages, in the meantime I would have to agree with their statement as quoted by my colleague that:

"The referee must judge the exact nature /reason for the extra person being on the field of play and if there was no impact at all then the goal could be allowed."

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 34810
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! <>