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Question Number: 18099

Law 3 - Number of Players 12/10/2007

RE: Developmental Under 9

Pat Trombly of Newton, MA USA asks...

The Laws state that "[g]oing off of the field of play may be considered to be part of playing movement."

My son's league plays 4 v 4 including keeper, on a very small field with goals the size of bathtubs. I have a lot of small but fast players, some with very good ballhandling skills for their age - but even with their good dribbling and passing, if the other team keeps everyone back, it's extremely difficult to score.

I want to stretch the field - this fall we started to stay back, draw the other team up and create breakaways, and that worked OK - but I want to stretch it width-wise as well.

Does the wording above mean that my players without the ball can run a wide arc, even outside the touch-lines, or can a throw-in recipient initially position himself outside the touch-line, to pull the defender that much further out, before making a run to the net, or to draw the defender that far out to create space for another player to make a run at the net?

The fields are that narrow that it makes tactical sense to do this, and going that wide is necessary to pull the defender far enough away from his own goal to enable another forward to make a run, get the ball and shoot it. A year or two from now they'll position themselves farther apart but they'll still be on the field, which will be wider.

Thank you.

Answer provided by Referee Chuck Fleischer

Pat you have selectively read FIFA's Additional Instructions and Guidance [AIG] to justify your own needs. What you should consider is the whole paragraph where the sentence you intend to use is located. In its complete form all can read:

"If a player accidentally crosses one of the boundary lines of the field of play play, he is not deemed to have committed an infringement. Going off the field of play may be considered to be part of a playing movement."

In your play you desire your players to deliberately leave the field and ask the referee to consider it part of the playing movement. Good luck with that method of teaching player skill. Better to teach pulling your opponent toward you then effecting a long pass to a runner. Or even coaching better dribbling techniques that you have learned through years of play and practice. Demonstrate your skills and watch your 9 year-olds emulate them...


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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

Hi Coach. Short answer is you cannot leave the field of play to create a tactical advantage. leaving the field legally must come during the normal course of play. For example, while challenging for a ball near the touchline. If players do what you suggest, it's a form of misconduct punishable by a caution and showing of the yellow card

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Answer provided by Referee Gil Weber

Referee Contarino is correct. However, he failed to add this qualifier: "Except in MLS games." Alexi Lalas routinely stepped off the field and went over the goal line on corner kicks and throw-ins so as to position himself out of the field of view of defending opponents. Then when the ball was swung into the penalty area he'd step back onto the field to play the ball.

Referees seemed to pay no attention to this tactic.

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Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

What you propose will only get your players in trouble. Why you would want to teach them something that gets them in trouble with a referee for a small, if any, gain is beyond me. Teaching them to think about how to solve a problem on the field is a good idea, though, just make sure what they come up with will fly. I'm glad you checked before going forward with this idea.

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Answer provided by Referee Steve Montanino

The players should stay on the field of play, unless they run off the field as a result of natural play. Deliberately playing off the field is not natural. Leaving the field to keep the ball in play is natural.

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Answer provided by Referee Ben Mueller

Only if it is the result of natural movement during play. If they gain an advantage from opponents not noticing them on the field, then it is leaving w/o permission.

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