Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 29620

Law 3 - Number of Players 8/20/2015

RE: Rec Under 19

Rocky Stefano of Toronto, On Canada asks...

During a recent game, the other team was caught having too many players on after a red card incident in which both players, one from each side was removed. After the first incident the referee gave our side ball position. The other team was then again caught with too many players on. My question is what is the penalty for a second infraction? This happened literally one after the other.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Rocky,
sounds like the officials are having an off day? Too many players, twice? Was this poor substitution practises or the other team sneaking in extra support? lol

I need to know WHY was play was stopped?
AS you are the team with 11 legal player,if the REASON for the stoppage call was in your favour ie they fouled your player, the restart remains in your favour, as long as the 12th extra player was not the opposing player responsible for the stoppage! He is NOT a player but a USB substitute and cannot foul only create misconduct and you are limited to indfk ball location restart. If it was any other of the opposing players then it remains dfk, pk goal for kick off, no matter what idiotic actions are later created to force the double send off be it excessive SFP or VC misconduct, reducing your two teams to ten players!

There is still the need to caution for the extra 12th player! Unless the opposing player, who was sent off for that red card misconduct was actually identified as being the EXTRA player NOT supposed to be on the field ? The restart remains an INDFK from where the ball was just that the caution is not awarded but the actions included in the match report.

If the restart was initially thought to be in their favour, i.e. you fouled their player or they had a corner or throw in or they scored, they lose that and it reverts to YOUR INDFK restart from where the ball was at the time of the stoppage.

So when the other team was ...CAUGHT.. with 11 versus 10 was the stoppage for THAT reason?
The punishment for having an extra player ie 11 versus 10 is to stop play, but not right away if there is advantage to consider or the extra player was not interfering with play. The restart will be an INDFK from the ball location the extra player, show a yellow card cautioning for the USB misconduct and remove the extra player off the field. This does not reduce the allowable number of players, which restored, is still 10 aside. Only if it was this player's second caution it would be send off after showing the yellow you show a red card that reduces them to 9 players. If the extra player is unidentified the team must chose a player to be punished with the caution.
Sounds like the officials need to pay closer attention to the substitution protocols!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Rocky
The sanction for an extra player on the field of play during play is that should a goal be scored by the team with the extra player is that the goal is disallowed, the extra player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour and the player is removed from the field of play. The restart is an IDFK from where the ball was when play was stopped which will be in the goal area.
If it happens again the same sanction should apply. The extra player is cautioned, he is removed him from the field of play and the restart is an indirect free kick from where the ball was when play was stopped. If the same offender is cautioned for a second time he is dismissed.
Now the referee crew should ask themselves why this is happening? I can accept perhaps an error by a team making a substitution to replace a position and the substituted player unwittingly does not leave when the dust settles or where there is rolling substitutions with the count going wrong. I would certainly be seeking an explanation from the team and having strong words with the coach of the offending team if I found no credible explanation other than a flagrant attempt to usurp the sending off decision. I would also be reporting the team to the competition organisers who will take a dim view of this.
I guess it points to
1. A failure of the referee crew to manage the restart after the sending off
2. The need for the opponents to be aware of what is happening numbers and positions wise on the field of play to alert the referee promptly.
3. There is no game sanction for repeated offences other than the regular caution and IDFK. The League is the ultimate decision maker here as it can take action against the offending team with a fine, loss of points, replay etc for flagrant breaches of the competition rules when advised by the referee.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Rocky,
it seems we have had a rash of extra player situations showing up on the site as of late.
Generally these situations occur when we have unlimited substitution protocols not being correctly followed exacerbated by the fact there is only a single newer referee with no ARS present or inexperienced ARS . While the accidental nature or a mistake can be the cause , one cannot totally discount unethical behaviour!

THAT is what we refer to as USB, if one team has an extra player above their legal limit participating on the field while the ball is in play. That extra player is cautioned for the intrusion, albeit his own fault, a mistake or an error by the officials. He is shown a yellow card and removed from the field! He is NOT sent off, forcing then to play short! He is told to get off the field back to the bench and thus restore balance! It is unfortunate but if the extra player is NOT positively identified as the one, NOT supposed to be there, someone will be forced to step up and carry the blame who is on the field of play. After the extra payer is cautioned and removed from the field play would restart as follows.

In your first encounter it was 12 versus 11. As you are the team with 11 the opposition with 12 is NOT entitled to ANY benefit or ANY restart in their favour! At best they give you an INDFK from the ball location at the time of the stoppage!
If the stoppage was in YOUR team's favour, you scored a goal, that goal would count, as it is to your advantage. If you had a player fouled and a dfk or pk was awarded that restart remains
it was the positively identified 12th player, who was not allowed to be there, committing the deed. His actions are only misconduct and an indfk from ball location is the correct restart . Mind you it is highly probable that along with the caution for the USB of being illegally on the field we hit him with a 2nd caution for the reckless USB of the foul itself or a direct red for VC . Two caution or direct red either way that player would not be participating any further in the match as he would be sent of. The only sad fact is his team is not reduced by a player in these circumstances.

As to what the red card incident was involving a player from either team. That removal is a send off and it should reduce both your teams to 10 versus 10 after the dust clears but there are a few caveats. Like your team cannot be guilty of DOGSO given the other team cannot legally score . I must assume the nature of the red cards are mired in VC or SFP so there is nothing arbitrary about the send offs
the player for their team was in fact the 12th player who was NOT supposed to be there. Then unfortunately you are playing with 10 but they will still have 11 as he is not a player when sent off. The issue of retaliation if you are a referee aware the 12th player is illegal get in there and put a stop to the proceedings, knowing he is trying to drag a valuable opposing player out with him, with no cost to his team.

That blows as a option I grant you, so hopefully a normal opposing player is held responsible. If the extra player is not able to be identified, or if identified and was not a participant we will assume the culprit involved in the altercations are in fact legal players for the purpose of the restarts and send offs even if they chose the opponent who was active to receive the USB caution .

The 2nd incident is disappointing as it relates to some shortcomings of those in charge but nothing extra is there. The same sanctions that were in play on the 12 versus 11 are there at 11 versus 10. The team with extra players receives zero benefit, the loss of ball possession and an extra person/player is cautioned for USB and removed to balance out the teams . The team of legal players might get a gift of ball possession if the second stoppage was their doing or be awarded advantage and secure the best restart available. Match report though has additional details to be included and those reading might want to inquire as to what the heck was going on?


Read other questions answered by Referee MrRef

View Referee MrRef profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 29620
Read other Q & A regarding Law 3 - Number of Players

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.