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Question Number: 18055

The Fourth Official 12/3/2007

Melvin Hagerman of Colorado Springs, Colorado U.S.A. asks...

This question is a follow up to question 18041

Time out, Mr. Fleischer: I am asking as a soccer FAN, not as the fourth official. Too many times, when I watch matches on TV, the graphics showing who is in and who went off do NOT come up for subs; all we see is the fourth holding up the sign (which may only have the number of the player coming off), a player coming off, and a player coming on. Many of these jerseys only have a number on the back and the front of the left leg, which is sometimes hidden by the camera angle or other players.

So, let me try again: In a game where only the red and green card sets are used to indicate which player is coming off and coming on, (or the electronic sign if available), a player is wearing number "400". (Yes, it has happened; Mexico's Monterrey club had a player who wore #400 in first-division matches back in the 1990's!) Plainly, nothing you have can handle number 400. That player comes on as a substitute in a match; what does a fourth official hold up to indicate such to the crowd and the TV audience?

Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

Well, the extensively prepared 4th official may carry big blank white sheets of poster board, red, and green markers. Then they could draw the players number on the card. Most 4ths will not carry such a thing, so in an odd case like the one you're presenting, its plausible that the 4th will not hold up a card. The 4th will inform the TV "red hat" of the sub and the players will verbalize who is off and that's probably the extent of what will happen.

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Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Back from my time out. Over to you Mr. Hagerman -- what do we do when the players have no number? The Law does not require numbers or names be worn so how does the player know he is being replaced? His name is called out! When he leaves the field the substitute enters.

Knowing who the player happens to be lies to the depth of each supporter. Some know every player in every team some do not. Those that do not know ask another spectator who he is. They learn. This Game is played world wide and not all parks have public address systems not are all matches televised.

Those spectators who must absolutely know who each substitute entering or player leaving just happens to be will eventually learn what each player looks like and how each moves on the field.

If you are worried about how the television director posts graphics then we are not the folks to ask, the answer to your question rests with those making the decision, the television folks. Please don't ask the television commentators, they have already demonstrated they know little about the Laws of the Game, they may not know how the graphics show up either.

Back to time out

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