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Question Number: 29494

Law 3 - Number of Players 6/21/2015

RE: Advanced Under 11

Aaron Speca of Virginia Beach, VA USA asks...

On two occasions during a recent game, after a goal was scored, a player for the team that restarted at center stood off the field of play at the center line, only coming on the field once the ball was kicked. This was not noticed by the center ref (there were no assistants at this game). Is this a legal play by the team kicking off?

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Aaron,

This is not legal. The Laws of the Game state that all players must be in their own half of the field at a kickoff. Naturally, the player in question isn't in his own half of the field, so the referee should ensure he is on the field before allowing the kick-off to occur.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Aaron
Not sure why the player did this or the benefit of same. I have seen players try to delay the kick off restart with all sorts of ruses. Could this be such a ruse?
Anyway all the players should all be on the field of play before the kick off is taken. If he is stood a foot or so off the field of play and it is not noticeable or has no effect on play then in my opinion it is trifling and probably best ignored. To deal with it will probably require a flag by an assistant, the referee has to come across to find what the flag is for and then the referee may ask the play to move a foot or may have by this time moved on to the FOP. That could have used up time that upsets the opponents who want to get on with play.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Aron,
just how far off? A foot on the touch line and he is good. Also why? If he was trying to be sneaky and cut in behind the technical areas entering further downfield then such an action could be cautionable .

As a referee I count the players and expect to see 11 aside ready to go before I start play so essentially, yes, players are required to be on the FOP.

I have heard of officials restarting play when teams were not retaking the FOP quickly enough to punish their tardiness instead of cautioning showing cards but the LOTG do not permit the referee to so until the minimum number of players are on the pitch.

Admittedly I had a very belligerent coach who thought he could delay things until he was ready. I restarted with his team finally entering the pitch after repeated urgings to do so, as soon as the 11th player was on the field I restarted given it was the oppositions kick off while his keeper was still running to goal and almost no one in an effective position. It was petty, I was wrong to do so but at the time I thought it appropriate and it felt quite good!

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