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Question Number: 30573

Law 3 - Number of Players 7/5/2016

RE: Rec Adult

russell of Sydney, Australia asks...

A question regarding the substitution process and TI.

Within one of my matches this past weekend, the ball was out of play for a TI near the bench. The team taking the throw called for a substitution, which was allowed.

While the subs process was happening, an active teammate lined up to take the TI. The out going player stepped off the field, and before the incoming player stepped onto the field, the teammate waiting to take the TI, called for the incoming player to take it and dropped the ball and moved back onto the field. Thats all fine.

I noticed that the incoming player walked down the touch line picked up the ball and was about to take the TI.

I paused him, and asked that he step into the field first then off to take the throw.

A few question around this.
Should it be my role to ask the sub to do so (BTW, I had no AR's), and if I had not requested this, and he had taken the TI, would it be a foul throw or simple retake.
I am thinking a retake as the subs process had not been completed.
Also, if I had not advised the sub to step in and out again and he took the TI, and, in the process of taking the TI place ONE foot on the line, would that constitute entering the field. Presumably yes.
Does entering the field require BOTH feet to enter the field - the LOTG are mute on this.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Russell
Well done on doing this correctly and by the procedure laid out in the Laws. While it may seem petty to some I can assure you that in the event where the exiting player or the incoming players does something untoward the question will be asked as to who is a player and who is a substitute. So the crossover between the two players is vital and important. It determines when the substitution is complete.
Had the substitute not entered the field of play his team could argue that they changed their minds if say misconduct happened or that there was a change of plan.

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Answer provided by Referee James Sowa


As you were the only official, you were right to make the sub step on the field. Without doing this, the substitution procedure would be incomplete. Using this as the basis, your questions:

If the sub had taken the throw-in without stepping on the field, it would be a simple retake as a throw-in must be taken by an active player. Since the sub has not completed the substitution procedure, he is still just that a substitute.

A line marks the territory it keeps. So in your scenario, a foot on the line would constitute entering the field and completing the substitution procedure. The resulting throw-in would be legal (presuming everything mechanically was done properly). Two full feet are not required.

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Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Russell,
You did the right thing. A substitution is not completed until the substitute has entered the FOP, after the player has left and in accordance with the LOTG. At that point he becomes a player - and only players can take a TI, not a substitute.

The 'once in a blue moon' scenario is that, as he is lining up to take the throw, a spectators makes a comment that offends him so he turns and punches the spectator (well, there are a number of potential ways somebody can get sent off before taking a throw). You'd send him off, but not being a player, you'd have to permit him to be replaced or the initial player to come back on.

So it may seem pedantic, but there's a slim possibility of it making a big difference - and if it does have an impact, then it's the sort of error that could potentially lead to appeals against the match results.

Doesn't take much to enforce this step - and if handled in a friendly manner, players may be a little bemused but won't make an issue out of it.

While technically you could argue that the sub stepping onto the line means the substitution is completed, the argument could also be made that he's still engaged in the process without being a player (and of course he may not step on the line). So keep it simple, ask him to step on the field first.

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