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Question Number: 30419

Law 3 - Number of Players 5/16/2016

RE: Comp Under 17

John of berkeley, California United States asks...

In U14 boys comp game, one team has only seven players so the game goes ahead. One player on this team gets injured and needs to leave the field. Ref (not me - I'm hearing this second-hand from an AR) tells the coach that the game will be abandoned if they don't have seven players on the field. The coach apparently tells the injured player to go back on the field and stand there for the rest of the game. Ref allows play to continue. Team playing short was losing at the time of the injury and ended up losing the game anyway.

If I was reffing this game, I would have abandoned it as the injured player was - well - injured, but he was also potentially a danger to himself and others.

Your view?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi john
It is of no concern to the referee if a player is fit to play or not. That is a matter for the coach and the team. Once the team coach indicated that the player would remain on the field of play then the referee cannot question that decision. The only way that the referee could prevent the player playing is if there is a weeping blood injury or he believes that the player may be a risk such as concussion. If it is a strain, twist then that is of no concern to the referee once the player is standing
If I was the referee the game continues as the team has seven players. The team can have reasons to continue which is also of no concern to the referee.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


Unless the referee feels there is an immediate threat to the player by being on the field, they can not prevent the player from standing there. That said, if the player just needed to sit out and catch his breath, the referee can allow the match to continue as the player is considered 'temporarily' off the field. I am guessing this was the case as the player was able to stand on the field for the remainder of the game.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi John,
I would agree with my colleagues that this is beyond the scope of the referee. He may not be able to actively pursue the ball, but that doesn't mean he is put at risk.
I've done the same thing myself as a player - one match I injured my hamstring and was unable to run, but my team was short. So I chose to remain on the field and basically stand in one spot. We figured if the opponents avoid the patch if field within a few metres of me then I've still achieved something!

I don't agree that the player is a danger to others - by not challenging opponents he would be much less of a danger to others than any of his teammates!

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