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Question Number: 29997

Law 3 - Number of Players 12/14/2015

RE: Competive Adult

Osman Kazi of Dar es Salaam, Dar es Salaam Tanzania asks...

Is there a maximum time allocated for treatment of the goalkeeper during a game?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Osman
No there is no maximum time. Player safety is the number one priority for match officials. Where a player is injured the referee invites medical personnel / physio etc on to the field of play to assess the injury. If it is decided that the players injury is serious and requires medical treatment then the referee takes advice as to whether the player can be moved or not. If the player can only be moved by medical professionals then the game will be held up until that happens.
In 2012 Fabrice Muamba suffered a heart attack playing for Bolton against Spurs and received lengthy attention on the pitch from medical personnel including a consultant cardiologist who was at the game as a fan. Muamba was later taken to the specialist coronary care unit at the London Chest Hospital. The game was abandoned by Referee Howard Webb and it was estimated that the game had stopped for some 6/8 minutes while medical personnel dealt with the incident. In that situation an ambulance was present to remove the player swiftly to hospital.
There have been situations where players could not been moved due to injuries sustained and that can take a lengthy period until trained medical professionals arrive to do that. As a referee Im not intervening to move a player when he has no desire to move himself or the advice is that he should not be moved except by say medical professionals. The referee can and should add on the time lost. If the stoppage is lengthy or likely to be so the referee can also abandon the game and he reports the facts to the League

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Oz,
time is unimportant when it comes to the health and safety of a possibly critically injured player or keeper. Unlike recreational play at the professional level there are many safeguards in place and available trained medical personal on hand to triage any situation quickly and efficiently. When there are trained efficient people to work with a patient can be bundled and ready to transport in a matter of minutes no matter if life and death or simply taking the safest precautions.

Keepers are permitted to be treated on the field so we allow more time as a team cannot continue without a keeper whereas a player injured can be lifted off the FOP and then treated, it does not affect the teams ability to keep playing. That said at some point the referee is going to want to know if the keeper can continue rather than be replaced? If it turns out to be a substitution per LOTG or an on field player switching into the keeper position the referee will note the particulars in his report and restart accordingly. . The duration of the delay will not affect the remainder of the match although it could set up other reasons to abandon of say diminishing light or perhaps the injury was traumatising to all concerned .

At the hometown field by the school we will only have on hand those in attendance and as close as the nearest medical aid is.

Unless the referee themselves is a trained doctor or EMT or immediate first aid is required to save the life of a downed player we generally call in the supervisory staff of the teams involved. I have on occasion shouted out for those on the touchline to immediately contact 911 for medical evacuation of an obviously seriously injured player. On one occasion I recall a Star's medical transport helicopter was brought onto the field for a non breathing patient being given CPR /mouth to mouth. I have carried off injured players in my arms, a young woman blew her Achilles tendon, actually heard it pop, sigh I carried her off the field cradled in my arms and placed her gently into a waiting car to transport her to the hospital using her team mates and the opposing players to ensure her foot was supported. As an EMT and trained in first aid I have on occasion been the most qualified to render TEMPORARY aid.

The important part is not to interfere with those more skilled than you but if there are none be sure you start the process to get that player the attention they need in the most practical and safest way possible.

We generally stop time. Look to see help is available. Wave them in! Ensure the player is not arbitrarily moved until a medical opinion is offered by those in charge. Prevent the interference of help arriving by moving the teams away from the treatment area.

I had one coach try to drag his player off the pitch while he was unconscious, needless to say that was not going to occur. Yet in another incident where it looked as if the player had perhaps broken or twisted an ankle I was not against sliding a board under him, secure the leg to get him off the field waiting for the ambulance, so the tournament match could get underway. The key was the cooperation of the player being able to control his own movements. Be wary of those wanting to move players that have no real grasp of the problems. Note too recent medical evidence that states concussive issues are playing a huge role in long term injury studies. I HOPE the bylaws in local associations will reflect the inadvisability of continuing to play if knocked unconscious or has received head trauma of a serious nature.

It is hard to fault local first aid people being deathly afraid to move an injured player for fear of medical malpractice or litigation or just worried the injury could be aggravated. Sometimes you have to wait till the ambulance gets there and possibly delay everything else until that time rather than abandon the match. I had one match where we had about 4 minutes left in the half and a player rolled his ankle likely tearing ligaments and possibly breaking but I rather doubted it only to have a mother first aider come in and sit with him refuse to let anyone move him off the field he was 20 feet from the touchline.

The match was delayed 55 minutes just waiting for an ambulance sigh . I did suggest we carefully remove the player but the reaction was not accepted well. So we used the wait time as half time and when the field was cleared we restarted the 4 minutes, ended the half but switched sides directly into the second half which both teams agreed to do! The problem in a tournament is games completed do matter and schedules are restricted! As referees though we have no voice in ordering others to be quick when it comes to the safety, only enforcing the options the LOTG offer to restart once the player is safely off the pitch.

From our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of fair play

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