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Question Number: 34946

Law 4 - The Players Equipment 4/10/2023

RE: Rec Under 19

Robert Acosta of LAKE FOREST, CA United States asks...

A player was noticed without shin guards during the warm up. The referee told him to get his shin guards before the start of the game. During the game, the same player scored a goal. Right before the kick off, the AR notified the referee that the player was not wearing shin guards. The referee issued a yellow card, and disallowed the goal stating that the player had come into the field of play without permission of the referee (since he was not wearing shin guards which went against what he was originally told to do). Hence, the yellow card was for coming into the field of paly without permission of the referee, thus the referee considered this person not to be a player in the game. So, the goal is not valid.
I have never heard of this interpretation of the LOTG.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Robert,

This is not the right way to approach this situation. Not wearing shinpads is a violation of Law 4. This player was on the field at the start of the match and the referee started play. The player had full permission to be there. While he was instructed to correct his equipment first, it doesn't mean he came on without permission - by starting the match, the referee has accepted who is on the field.

For an equipment issue, we don't have to stop play (I'll get back to this), but if it isn't corrected by the next stopapge, the player must leave. A card isn't necessarily required.

Now, I would say that a card is needed here - for one, the referee already instructed the player to correct the equipment. Two, not wearing shinpads is pretty significant, so I'd say it warrants a card anyway, though that's just my opinion.

A law 4 issue is probably the only time when we can caution a player for an offence committed in the leadup to a goal but we're not looking to disallow the goal.

Now, as for stoppage - if, say, the referee noticed this during play, then play doesn't need to be stopped. But if the player gets close to being involved in a challenge (if they challenge for the ball, if they're carring the ball and an opponent is approaching tackling range), then the referee should stop play for PIADM.

But as this wasn't noticed during play, I don't think it would be appropriate to backdate a PIADM offence, even though it occured in the leadup.

As a final point, this all could have been prevented. If the ref makes an instruction to a player prematch to correct their equipment, then it's wise to check that it has been done.

However, the AR has done the right thing here.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Robert,

If this were a high school game, the player is illegally equipped (NFHS Rule 18-1-1u) and the coach rather than the player would get the caution unless the coach had already been cautioned for an illegally equipped. In that case the player rather than the coach would get the caution (see NFHS Rules 4-3-1 and 4-3-2). In both cases the player would have to leave the game and not be permitted to re-enter until the next opportunity to substitute and the player is legally equipped.

In either of the above violations the goal would still count because the penalty is not to be enforced until a dead ball situation occurs (NFHS Rule 4-3-4).

I just wanted to give you the high school rules covering this situation in the event you officiate high school games. I do hope you have a very successful year of officiating.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
Thanks for the question.

What has happened here is that the referee took exception to the blatant disregard for an instruction to a player to correct equipment.
The player by being on the field of play at kick off was permitted to be there so there could not be a sanction for entering the field of play without permission. If that was the case the player should have been checked and prevented from entering before kick off. So a referee by starting the game has given tacit permission for entering the field of play to all the players on the FOP at the kick off.

Law 4 tells us that for any offence of this equipment Law , play need not be stopped and the player is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct the equipment or to leave when play stops, unless the equipment has already been corrected.
The closest we have to an official answer is an IFAB Q&A which states that if a goal is scored by a player who has lost footwear or a shin pad before scoring a goal the answer is that the goal is awarded and the player is requested to replace same before the restart.

So for me the correct decision would have been to award the goal, ask the player to leave the field of play to correct the equipment and I would caution the player for unsporting behaviour by showing a lack of respect for the game. Some referees see it as dissent which is a disagreement with a match official’s decision rather than the more common verbal dissent.

Finally this could all have been prevented. The equipment check should have been completed as the players entered on the field of play or on the field of play before kick off. As a referee I would have paid close attention to the player seen without the shin pads and I would not have allowed the player to start without the pads.
I once recall seeing a player in a warm up with an earring and I informed the player that he could not play with jewellery. Before kick off at the equipment check I noticed that the player had not removed it so I informed him that he was not playing until it was removed. He said it would not come out and I told him that he would not then be playing. Guess what, it came out and I allowed the player to start
If a player came on to the field of play without permission after kick off that would indeed be a caution yet that is not what happened here.

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