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Question Number: 28836

Law 18 - Common Sense 10/10/2014

RE: select Under 14

mike of rosemount, usa asks...

if a player runs out of the field can they renter on there own or does the ref have to allow it? can they be the first to touch the ball if they just come right back in?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Mike,

The laws recognise that players may leave the field as part of normal play (for instance, running and stopping a ball right on the line often means the player will run off the field). This is fine, and players should re-enter the field as soon as they can, and can resume play as soon as they do so (for instance, the player shouldn't hang off the field chatting to spectators, then run on when he's been forgotten about). Similarly, if the player ran off the field to fetch a ball for, say, a throw-in, and somebody else took it quickly while he was off the field, he can still come back.

If the referee instructs the player to leave the field (for instance, to correct equipment), the player must wait for the referee's permission to return.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mike,

The short answer is usually yes with some reservations!

What I think you are most interested in is in this fact! Often, during the course of a match, a player's momentum can occasionally create off the field incursions by over running a ball, trying to get around an opponent or simply falling and be considered as part of normal play. It is expected those who have left by accident, return quickly! They can play that ball immediately, even while partially outside the field as long as the ball remains in play They already have the referees permission as long as the referee accepts the condition as part of a regular challenge or attempt to play the ball! The restarts requiring players to exit the field to go get the ball like a throw in or corner kick or goal kick are most certainly allowed even if they are not the one taking it!

If a player accidentally crosses one of the boundary lines of the field of 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

If during play, a referee grants permission for a player to leave the FOP to correct equipment or hit the can, that player must wait until the referee signals him to renter. Also under certain conditions a player can ONLY re-enter from the touchline not the goal line. A referee can make exceptions even when players leave the FOP deliberately such as step off the field to show non involvement in offside or perhaps an injury, they drag themselves out to recover. The referee should make them re-enter with permission but could grant some leeway .

It is not an offence in itself for a player who is in an offside position to step off the field of play to show the referee that he is not involved in active play. However, if the referee considers that he has left the field of play for tactical reasons and has gained an unfair advantage by re-entering the field of play, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour. The player needs to ask for the referee’s permission to re-enter the field of play

The MAJOR complications are twofold:
Firstly; if a player has exited the field without the permission of the referee, for the sake of offside purposes he must be considered to be on the goal line or touchline where it occurs. A great example of this was a 2008 match between Netherlands vs Italy! Ruud Van Nistelrooy scored a goal, many felt was offside! I did not suffer that delusion.
An Italian player, Panucci had left the field (under his own power) in behind his goal, arguably because he was slightly injured in a collision moments earlier! Panucci wandered in behind the goal then (a) chose to lay down or (b) crumbled nearly unconscious depending if you were a Dutch or Italian fan to display this as , 'Look at me I am hurt! '

Now a referee can allow play to continue if he is of the opinion a player is not seriously injured. He can even grant a player de facto permission it was ok to limp off and get treatment! The trouble is we can not trust a player to put aside self interest as to why he thinks going off is the right course of action. Whether it was offside related or simply a cramp where he knew he was at a severe disadvantage in defending properly.

Panucci could possibly use this realization he was not quite fit to take on a quality defending role and exit to make it look like there was an offside! At issue was the referee or AR never gave him permission to be off the field. Panucci took it upon himself to leave! The referee did not say it was cool for him to do so! The officials accepted he was off as part of momentum, not a deliberate act of USB, however, for the purposes of offside he was considered to be on the goal line.

Secondly exiting the field without permission, exempting those instances we as referee would be ok with! The unsporting actions such as deceitful lurking, leaving to create false information or perhaps to slip back in unnoticed further down field or misconduct actions against an opponent or anyone for that matter could result in a stoppage of play and an indfk or drop ball restart depending on the circumstances. The outcome maybe delayed if advantage was applied. However, these instances are not going to end well for a player with yellow or red cards certainly in the picture. Nor will they be allowed to re enter the FOP immediately!

Any defending player leaving the field of play for any reason without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on his own goal line or touch line for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play. If the player leaves the field of play deliberately, he must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mike
If it is part of a playing movement such as going around an opponent then there is no offence and play continues.
If it is done for unsporting reasons such as trying to place an opponent in an offside position then the referee will allow play to continue assuming there is an advantage to do so and caution the player who deliberately left the field of play at the next stoppage.
If the player has left the field for treatment to an injury or correct his equipment he must wait for the referee to beckon him back on.

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