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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35066

High School 8/15/2023

RE: Varsity High School

Robert Mastropietro of Brookfield, CT United States asks...

Once the roster is submitted prior to the start of match, can at anytime during the contest a player change uniform numbers?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Robert,
numbers are not a requirement under the LOTG but are often required required in competitions and in high school? Player identification, names on jerseys or a number jersey where your player name is written beside it on a roster as an identifying marker it would seem prudent that if it was required it should not be altered without the referees knowledge. Number 4 gets blood on a jersey so he changes to #16 is a common sense deviation. Identical twins same name but no members perhaps an x taped on the jersey of one of them. The only thing to be concerned about if the identify or number is altered is it was done to conceal something/ Cheers

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Robert,

Referees should always familiarise themselves with the rules of competition for the match they're officiating, and even bring a copy with them. This is addressed by competition rules, not LOTG.

In saying that - refs should try to facilitate playing where possible. The only possible reason I could imagine wanting to change a number during the match is if the jersey they're using is no longer sufficient - perhaps it's torn or has blood on it. In which case, allow the swap and just note the number change.

No real reason to be intervening on something like this. If they swap to a different number without notifying you during the match, then that should probably result in a caution.

If it's before the match, then it's just as likely the Manager made an error filling out the teamsheet. Just correct it and move on.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Robert
Numbers can be changed yet generally there needs to be a genuine reason for doing so.
Before kick off a jersey could be missing so say 5 is not readily available a team will want to use another number. Similarly if there is blood on a shirt that will be needed to be changed or perhaps a goalkeeper change needs to be made with an outfield player.
Anyway the important part is that the referee is aware of the number change and that the wearer can be identified. Only time I would be concerned if it is being done for nefarious reasons which is rarely done overtly.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS High School rules which are used for high school play in Connecticut do not specifically state numbers can be changed, but the rule (NFHS 3-1-3) does state that players, numbers, bench personnel, and coaches may be added to the roster after the start of play. If numbers are changed, this change must added to the roster which was given to the officials prior to the start of play.

This rule on not adding information to the roster has no penalty as is indicated by NFHS Rule 3-1-3 Situation A which states that when a player not listed on the roster scores a goal, the goal counts, and this player can be added.

I do remember a situation in a state tournament game where a player that had been disqualified (red card) and was put back in the game with a different number. This was a violation of state rules regarding ineligible players. In this case, the player, coach, and school were penalized.

I see the CIAC boys and girls soccer seasons begin on September 7. I hope you have a very successful officiating season.

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