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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34903

Law 5 - The Referee 3/6/2023

RE: Adult

Mark of Bradford, England asks...

Why do referees allow players to be treated on the pitch when not seriously injured. I thought this was against the laws of the game in the Premier League?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
There is a thin line between assessment and treatment in the soccer world. The Laws allow for assessment of an injury not treatment and many physios use that assessment as a form of treatment
As a result many players are fit enough to return immediately in these situations. Teams do not want to play short for any period and as a result the engagement with physios gets stretched into a treatment phase which poses a problem for the game.
In the World Cup a number of games had stretcher bearers coming on to the field to remove players for treatment yet it was messy and did not have the desired effect. So one of the solutions was to add on all the time lost which in some cases with other stoppages ran to 9 minutes.

The parts of this that I do not like is where a player who is injured on a boundary line moves more on to the field of play so that play has to be stopped or not continued or where players who knows that they cannot continue so they sit down on the field again to stop play. Unfortunately I have seen these situation escalated into misconduct requiring cards and in some instances dismissals.

I recall a particular PL game as it stuck out in my mind over two incidents. One was where a player pulled a muscle in his leg and he walked slowly to half way and sat down in the centre circle. The two physios were beckoned on by the referee and the time taken to do all this was used to prepare a substitute. The opponents were not happy as they felt the player could have walked to the technical area and be allowed to leave from there which would not have held up the game for as long as it did. Some time later a second player from the same team went down and the same situation arose much to the greater displeasure of the opponents, The referee tried to stop the "treatment" on the field by requesting a swift removal of the player and it got into a very tense exchange between the physios and the referee.
That is not a position that referees want to find themselves in on injuries particularly when the game has come to "accept" the "treatment" stoppage so that teams do not play short for any period of time. The game has tried to address some of the issues say by now allowing a player to be substituted at any location although in injury situations previously that was allowed. Also being stricter on the time taken being added on is another factor although the bigger factor of not playing short has never been addressed.

So we have arrived at a situation of acceptance of how injuries are handled and it is impossible as it stands to get the toothpaste back in the tube. Every team does it and while it upsets a team one week they do it themselves maybe the following week.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mark,
referees are not doctors, just neutral observers regulating matches until time expires. Now the LOTG try to give the referee the necessary discretion to achieve a fair match result with the addition of extended time to compensate for injury or misused time that unfairly eats away at the critical play time, especially when it seems rather obtuse or obvious that such is required.

A painful knock can appear serious, but players realizing that their team is disadvantaged should they be forced to leave the FOP for treatment will shake off the pain so as to continue A referee can pick up on that quickly and there is no ongoing treatment, more of an assessment that nothing is broken or so injured that harm could befall said player so.

Good to go! If we do just do a quick check , flex , rub and spray and we can restart quickly I think its better for the game . If we send the stretcher bearers on, then added time should follow.

In my opinion, players have no credibility or honor to be delaying restarts or wasting time by diving or feigning injury. To be shown a yellow card, to be thought the designer of such a foolish act creating a need for a weak caution.

Stopping play to disrupt attacks or recover time to defend is often the reasoning players will try to drag out the attention of the medics . A referee must weigh carefully the actions as labeling someone a cheater of deceptively unfair practices. As long as the players make an effort to not delay the referee should not be too hasty in exacerbating these situations . Yet neither should a referee shy away should players require needed discipline!

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