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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35213

Law 5 - The Referee 11/9/2023

Petr of Prague, Czech Republic Czech Republic asks...


I have one more question please.

Can a player get a yellow or red card before the match starts? If so, when can this possibility first occur? And when does the possibility of receiving cards end?

Thank you very much!

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Petr
The Laws allow for a player to be cautioned or dismissed before kick off. For cautionable offences the matter is reported only whereas the player who is dismissed takes no part in the game in any fashion. Cards are not shown just reported although out the field of play cards can be shown .

In reality most referees would only deal with red card offences such as violent conduct or offensive, insulting and abusive language/ gestures and pay less attention to the possible yellow card offences as they know that probably little if anything would be done on a no card report. A referee will probably make a mental note of misbehaviour before the game to ensure it does not continue on to the field or if it does swift action is taken.

As to when the referee can exert that disciplinary control it would be from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match ends (including kicks from the penalty mark).
If something untoward happened in the changing rooms / car park that can and should also be reported. Obviously no card is shown just the individual being informed that the matter is being reported as a dismissal offence.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Petr,
Well the players can be punished prior to kick off and after the match is over but the cards are not required to be shown.

Professional matches have a lot of protocalls where recreational you could be at the park all day so to determine when is not as easy as it sounds for when disciplinary actions are taken or a reason to card.

Generally a referees' authority extends from the pregame inspection until the match officially

All misconduct before or after a match, yellow or red card, must be included in the match report as a separate heading . Even though no card is required to be shown.

Cards are simply a control tool and used to indicate the referee has publicly sanctioned a player or substitute or substituted player so there was no doubt to their status to coaches, team mates, spectators, opposition & competition authorities!

Perhaps you can recall 2000 EURO semi-final,: France 2-1 Portugal Zidane converting from the spot to give France a golden-goal victory after Xavier was adjudged to have handled a Sylvain Wiltord shot. The referee then whistled ending the game. The Portuguese players surrounded the AR they felt responsible screaming and upset so the referee intervened showing the red card quite forcefully I might add, even though the match was over! Players were grabbing his arm, pulling the card down.

As I was doing the pregame in a u 17 match I once cautioned a smirking player showing only a yellow card, (still think it should have been red in retrospect) well before the starting kick off, during the warm up, for hitting a ball purposefully into an opposing team that was jogging around the outside of the pitch. He was shooting the ball to warm up his keeper but chose to have a hard go, ONLY as the opposition team passed by & smacked a young lad in the side of the head a good ten yards wide of goal.

I had overheard the comment "Ducks in a row" and after the cry out from the impact the kicker was laughing and smirking. Coach was claiming it was an accident, I still cautioned for the USB attitude. I never heard no warning for the lad to duck and repeated the "duck" comment to him? No eye contact told me it was, what it was!

What is different in todays LOTG is that caution is of its own separate entity. That caution would not count towards a second caution should that player receive another one AFTER kick off. It would be included in the match report though. If the misconduct was red card material like a VC incident in that player is expelled from the match and could be shown the red card. That player is gone bye bye BUT it would not affect the number of players on the pitch at kick off, still be 11 aide! They could replace that player with one off the roster. This does not affect the number of allowable substitutions only 1 less person to choose from

If incidents occur outside the FOP into parking lot territory these are POLICE matters and often reported as assault's if indeed they cross that threshold but most definitely reported in a match report. I know of players BANNED for life for such actions so a very bad idea.


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