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Question Number: 29405

Law 3 - Number of Players 5/13/2015

RE: Select Under 15

Matt of BRISTOW, VIRGINIA United States asks...

This question is a follow up to question 29280

As it pertains to the issue of a throw-in being taken by a substitute who has not entered the field of play, one must first define 'entering the field of play.' Since the boundary lines are part of the area that they encircle, if the player steps on the boundary line in the process of taking a throw-in prior to releasing the ball, has he not entered the field of play?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Matt
Once the substitute steps on the touch line after the player has left the field of play he is deemed to have entered.
The important part is understand the substitution process and to recognise the moment the substitute has become a player. The reason is to prevent any difficulty for the referee and the game. It is not a good idea to wait until the substitute steps on the line as part of the TI action. For instance a lot could happen between the substitute leaving thet technical area and perhaps 30/40 yards down the touchline.
A few examples
1. Substitute kicks a player warming up outside the FOP down the touchline. Team protest that the substitution was not completed correctly.
2. Player exiting the field of play shouts OFFINABUS to the referee for which he is dismissed while the substitute was running down the line to take the TI. Team protest that the substitution was made so they should not play short.
3. Substitute while running down the line goes over on his ankle. Team says that he was not the entering player as he was only testing his fitness and that they want to use a different sub.

Once the substitution process is completed in line with the laws it reduces significantly any potential problems for the referee. Leaving the entry to the TI while technically could meet the procedure it is not advised as it can cause all sort of problems.
If I am on my own I will stand beside the substitute on the touchline so as to check his equipment and he has to move in front of me which makes him enter the FOP.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Matt,

You would be correct - though there's always the potential that the player doesn't step onto the field while taking the throw.

Some may argue that becoming a player while taking the throw isn't good enough and he needs to clearly become a player first. Whichever position you take on that it's a largely technical debate where both positions are probably acceptable in the laws.

The issue would be if the substitute, having not come onto the field, is preparing for the throw-in, hears a derogatory remark from the crowd then punches a spectator (it has happened to a colleague of mine). Good luck selling the fact that the substitute can still be replaced when, by preparing to take the throw, he's essentially become part of 'play' even though he isn't yet a player.

It would become even more complicated if he used the throw to violently throw the ball into the face of an opponent.

So keep it simple - no player is going to argue if you, with a smile, say 'just step onto the field at halfway first please'. How you approach the situation will determine whether it sounds like a big issue is being made out of it, or whether it's just a minor process that the players probably won't understand, but will forget about in 30 seconds.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Matt,
a substitute cannot take part in the match UNTIL he IS a player. I grant you the boundary lines are indeed part of the playing area but the substitute must first enter the FOP before he can participate in play. I would not permit the thrower to handle the ball, in the lead up for the throw-in ...UNTIL.... he was a player. A player has permission to be off the field to retrieve and set up for restarts like throw ins and corners, a substitute does not

The referee would have to accept the substitute is in fact a player before the throw in is correctly taken. If the referee accepts that standing on the touchline is good enough once the exiting player has left it will be his match his decision his reputation should it occur only as the ball is entering the FOP. I would prefer we determine it sooner, at the time when the departing player has left seems appropriate.

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