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Question Number: 27891

Law 3 - Number of Players 10/14/2013

RE: Grade 8 Under 10

Brendan of Folsom, CA United States asks...

Though a ref myself, I was a spectator at a competitive girls u9 game.
Zero to Zero match half-way into the second half.
The ball goes out of play in our defensive half of the field down by the AR's corner. The AR calls for a throw in for the offense (the other team). Our team asks for substitutions, three girls are standing at midfield ready to come in, permission is granted and three girls start to run off the field as they were to come out of the game then, while this is going on, a fourth girl runs over as well saying she needed to come out. This results in a delay while coach figures what girl that was coming off the field needs to stay in (so the 4th girl can come out) plus the time for the NEW verbal instructions to each girl on what their new positions were going to be. If a normal sub process takes 20 seconds this one was going to be about 10 seconds longer because of the confusion.
It happens that the throw-in was to be taken right at the corner and the AR that made the call is positioned there (where he should be) while waiting for the match to restart.
With the confusion during the substitute process, the same AR says words to the effect toward the bench that 'you have to be ready to substitute' and then calls for the girl to throw in the ball while all the girls and the attention of everyone is at midfield. The offense now has the ball and is playing toward the goal and everyone quickly races down to that corner to try to recover.
I say that once a substitution is properly requested and granted, any delay in the process will result in additional time added to the end of the match. Further, when there is a substitution, it is recommended that proper time be given for the incoming players to take their general position on the field. You can't just start the game with three new subs just crossing into the field of play because you think it is taking too much time!!! And if you do, you better blow the whistle so everyone knows play is to start!
The center ref IMO should have taken charge, this alone would have given the team enough time to figure it out and get into position.
And just for color: the AR was a very mature man (aged in his 60's) and the center was a 19 or 20 year old girl, which may explain a little why he felt like he could take control of the match.
Will you agree that the situation was poorly controlled? What suggestions would you have where there is unexpected/extended delay after permission was granted to substitute? Other thoughts? BTW there is obviously no 4th referee at this level.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Brendan
As described this was extremely poorly handled and also incorrect in Law.
The proper procedure was to ensure that the substitutions were complete and every player was in position with the whistle then sounding to resume play. If the process takes longer than expected then add on the additional time.
Also it is not the AR's decision to restart play. That is reserved for the referee and it is on the whistle.

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Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

Yes, the refs should have waited for the substitution to be completed. And yes, it is the referee, not the assistant referee, who decides when play is to be started.

That said, if your team was confused because the substitution plans changed, that is your team's problem. Players should go onto the field prepared to play. We don't hold things up for a coaching session.

The proper thing to do, when the other girl requested to come out, would be to say, 'OK Abby, I'll get you out the next chance we have.'

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Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

First, this is U9 and subs take time and instructions are usually being given by the coach as the subs enter the field. Second, sure, the AR is technically correct that ALL the subs should be at the centerline ready to come in BEFORE subs are called. But Third, what is the AR doing calling for play to restart? That's the Referee's job not the AR's and REQUIRES the use of the whistle which the AR certainly did not use. I agree at this level, let the kids get to their positions before letting play restart. Upon seeing the AR call for the restart of play, the Referee should have blown her whistle, stopped play, had a word with her older AR and given the signal to restart play when she was ready.

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