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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 35577

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 6/15/2024

RE: Recreational Under 19

Steve Janz of Los Angeles, CA United States asks...

Hi - I have a question that relates to Law 3 and Law 12. In Law 3 it states that if a substitute comes on to the field of play and interferes with play, the restart is a DFK at the point of interference. However, what I am confused about is the statement in Law 12 that says "If an offence involves contact, it is penalised by a direct free kick." Back to the scenario in Law 3, the illegal substitute just interfered with play, he didn't make any contact with any other players. So why is the restart still a DFK? Does the contact include contact with the ball? Thanks for any guidance on this.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Steve
When it states that a substitute comes on to the FOP to interfere with play it also states that a referee should only stop play if there is actual interference with play.

So yes playing the ball is interference which is punished by a direct free kick or penalty kick.

If play is stopped and there is no interference the restart is an indirect free kick from where the ball was located when play was stopped.

I recall a few season ago when I was on the line in a game as an assistant. Just after half time a ball was clearly going out of play for a throw in. A late returning coach to the technical area stopped the ball for the throw in on the line. The problem was he did so before the ball had fully left the field of play. I went with the throw in flag. There was no intent or malice just a desire to help the restart. There was no complaint about the call.
Have a look at this video
The restart was a penalty kick after the substitute touched the ball on the field of play which was considered interfering with play
It was a matter of fact and as per the Law it had to be a caution and a penalty kick.
Now I get why this Law was introduced which was to deal with egregious behaviour by substitutes or technical staff stopping goals or goal scoring opportunities yet was this deserving of the full rigour of the Law? At this level yes as it had VAR and played as a Pro game to the letter of the Law.

Compare it to this situation
There would be no complaint that the technical staff member should be dismissed and the restart should be a penalty kick. The same would apply to a substitute committing the same offence.

I’m around long enough with many others to recall when it was a dropped ball restart. Even today it is rare for interference except for the extra ball on to the field which does not require the game being halted except where there i interference . The law makers made the required changes yet the saying of exceptions make poor law applies here.
When a law is created in response to a specific exception or unusual circumstances, it may not properly address the complexities of the broader issue. This can lead to unintended consequences and unfair outcomes for situations that fall outside of the exception.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Steve,
Just because any offence that involves contact results in a direct free kick that does not mean that all direct free kick offences must involve contact. That's what's known as a non sequitur fallacy.

In fact there are other direct free kick offences that do not have to involve contact. For example, attempts to kick, strike or trip an opponent may be done without contact, but are direct free kick offences nonetheless.

So there is no conflict between awarding a direct free kick for a substitute interfering with play and the statement in Law 12 that all offences involving contact result in a direct free kick.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone

Hi Steve,

Since your are a referee for under 19 games, you most likely also refereeing high school games where the penalties often differ from those in the Soccer Laws. Such is the case with non-players entering the field.

As indicated in NFHS Rule 13-2-1j, A Direct Free Kick is awarded and taken from the point of interference if a player, coach, or bench personnel enters the field and interferes with play.

However, NFHS Rule 13-3a states an Indirect Free Kick is taken from where the ball was when the referee stops play if a player, coach, or bench personnel enters enters or leaves the field of play without the permission of the official and does not interfere with play.

Thus, if no interference occurs, the penalty in high school play is an indirect not a direct kick.

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