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Question Number: 30718

Law 3 - Number of Players 9/5/2016

RE: Competitive Adult

Jack of Sydney, NSW Australia asks...

This question is a follow up to question 30710

In the past, when a substitute entered the field of play and the ball was in play, we would apply a silent advantage if the other team had possession. When possession changed over (or if the team of the substitute had possession when the illegal entry occurred), we could stop play, award an indirect free kick to the opponents from where the ball was located when play was stopped, caution the substitute for unsporting behaviour and remove them from the field of play.

In reading Law 3, now it appears that we must wait until the ball goes out of play.

'If a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player or outside agent enters the field of play the referee must:
- only stop play if there is interference with play
- have the person removed when play stops
- take appropriate disciplinary action'

This seems like a farce. If the blue team is rapidly moving towards goal, and a blue substitute had entered the field of play illegally, why do we have to wait until the ball goes out of play to take action? It's not like a goal is going to be allowed anyway if they score, so what's the point in keeping play going? The following quote suggests the goal would be allowed, even if they do not interfere:

'If, after a goal is scored, the referee realises, before play restarts, an extra person was on the field of play when the goal was scored:

- the referee must disallow the goal if the extra person was:
- a player, substitute, substituted player, sent off player or team official of the team that scored the goal'

If the referee was to stop play to caution and remove a substitute who had not interfered, would the restart now be a dropped ball because the provision to award an indirect free kick from the location of the ball has been removed, and a direct free kick may only be awarded if they interfere?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Jack
Law 12 has changed in that the cautionable offence of entering the field of play without the referees permission has been added to the list of cautions for substitutes. So if that happens the team has infringed Law 12 so once the referee becomes aware of the extra player he can stop play, caution the extra player and restarts play with a direct free kick at the location of the ball when play was stopped. The Law is suggesting that if advantage can be played to not intervene. If the team with 12 has possession then the game stops. Always deal with an infringement immediately that is likely to cause further problems taking into account the advantage proviso. Waiting is not good mechanics when the referee knows that a team has 12 and it has the ball.
My advice is to look at the circumstances. Generally when a goal is scored with an extra player it is unknown to the referee. It happens due to poor mechanics at a substitution or less likely the unfair actions of a team.
In the more likely event of the referee not knowing until say a goal is scored the goal is disallowed and the restart is a goal kick or a corner kick depending on who touched it last.
If the extra player does not interferes with the opponents play then the referee can allow play to continue until the next stoppage or if there is interference by the extra player he stops play and the restart is a direct free kick from the location of the interference.
Summary is that if the referee is aware of an extra player then he should stop play unless there is an advantage. If there is interference by the extra player it is a DFK at the point of same. If there is none yet the referee stops play then it is a DFK at the location of the interference as defined by the referee.
I have asked IFAB for clarification on this to ensure the interpretation is correct and a reply is awaited. From my perspective I'm good with this and it is supported from what I read in Law 3 and Law 12. Few if any are going to complain about stopping a game with 12 players on one side when they are in possession of the ball and restarting with a free kick.




Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

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