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Question Number: 26865

Law 3 - Number of Players 10/1/2012

RE: College

Nick Broderick of Halifax, Nova Scotia Canada asks...

This question is a follow up to question 26856

Thank you for your responses. I suspected that this was the case, given that there's no specific reason in Law to keep him off until a stoppage.

Unfortunately, the person who tried to convince me differently was an instructor who was observing a game in which I, as the Senior AR, convinced the referee -- a relatively green colleague doing his first-ever college middle -- that this player should be allowed on immediately; we did just that and were harangued for it.

I was doubtful about what this instructor said to us after the game and challenged him on this point of Law again when we worked together later that week. He again insisted that the player must wait for a stoppage -- or rather, that we must wait for a stoppage to allow him on the field. He reasoned that the only part of the Law that allows players to enter the field of play while the ball is in play is the section pertaining to injured players. Because this player was not off the field to have an injury treated, this 'exception' of allowing a player to enter during live play did not apply.

I was sure then -- and more so now, thanks to your responses -- that this section of the Law and how it is written comes from a general understanding that, without due cause (equipment issue, blood, substitution, fairness to the opposition) the referee should not delay allowing player to enter the field of play.

Unfortunately, 'general understanding' means we're expected to know this without it being written into Law explicitly. How can I convince this instructor that our team was correct to allow this player onto the field, all other issues of fairness to the opposing team notwithstanding?

Answer provided by Referee Michelle Maloney

Assuming that the college games there are played under the LOTG, there is nothing in the LOTG to prevent the referee from allowing a player to return to the field during play by beckoning them on. If this had been a late arriving player and the team had to start with ten, why would the referee have to wait for a stoppage? He wouldn't, of course, and it is no different in the second half.

It is not a substitution, it is not a case of blood on a uniform nor is it a case where a player has had to leave the field due to a stoppage for injury. The USSF's Advice To Referees has a section which addresses this type of situation.

If a player whose name was given to the referee prior to the match is not able to enter the field in time for play to begin, due to late arrival or unreadiness of equipment or uniform, the player may subsequently enter the field. Before doing so, the player's equipment must be checked by the referee. The referee may delegate this responsibility to the fourth official (if one has not been appointed, the assistant referees may be designated). If the referee conducts this inspection, it can only occur at a stoppage of play and the player may enter the field at any point along the boundary lines. If the responsibility has been delegated, the player can enter the field either during a stoppage (at any point along the boundary lines) or during play (at any point along the touch line) after being checked by the designated official. In either case, the referee must beckon the player to enter the field (this responsibility cannot be delegated).
Note: The need for the referee's permission, i. e., the beckoning onto the field, applies to ALL cases of a player entering or re-entering the field, not just to a late-arriving player.'

Perhaps the instructor has a reason for this position, but it is not supported under Law or practice or even under common sense. Does this person also think that a player sent off can be replaced? The Laws don't state that the sent off player cannot be replaced anywhere, but everybody "knows" that. Since there is no prohibition against the referee allowing the player to return (no special circumstances) with the referee's permission, then the referee can always make this decision.

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