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Question Number: 31225

Law 3 - The Players 2/3/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Gary of Niagara Falls, ON Canada asks...

A team is playing with 7 players, one of the players gets injured. At the next stoppage the player leaves the field for treatment, what should the referee do?

1. Abandon the match if player can't continue
2. Wait for the player to receive treatment, when the player returns restart play.
3. Both B and C

I thought if a player leaves the field for treatment, he can only re-enter once play has resumed. Therefore, the correct answer would be #1

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Gary
Unusual situations require Law 18 common sense decisions. The answer is 3whichi assume refers to 1 and 2.
If the team indicates that the player can no longer play then the game is abandoned. However if the team says that it is a minor knock, cut, strain and the player will return after treatment then he is given sufficient time for that treatment to take place. Once he indicates he is ready to return then restart the game with the player making an immediate return. That second between the restart and return is seen as trifling in the context of this law.
Now the referee has to be mindful also of the circumstances. I once had a situation in an evening game where I felt a player was feigning injury and did not want to moved. I felt the player was trying to get the game abandoned yet it was not certain. Luckily there was a first aider present and also a stretcher which allowed for the player to be removed and the game restarted. Similarly in the 7 player situation the player should be given time for the injury treatment yet not enough to frustrate the restart with a very lengthy delay that might then need to be abandoned due because of lack of light etc.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Gary,
I assume your point 3 should read, 'Both 1 and 2.' If so, then as Ref McHugh says, that would be the way to go, although in terms of the process, I think a better rendering of it would be '2, then 1.'

I seem to be referring to the old Q&A's a lot recently but I guess it's just that a lot of recent questions have scenarios that they also contained and in this case, if you replace the word 'when' with 'if' in point 2, your points 2 & 1 pretty much sum up what they said about this back in 2006, which was:

''Q. A player, from a team with only seven players, leaves the field of play to receive medical attention. What action does the referee take?

A. The match will stop until this player has received treatment and returns to the field of play. If he is unable to return, the match is abandoned ''

While this does seem slightly at odds with a strictly literal interpretation of the Laws, it is as Ref McHugh says, the common sense decision or as the current Laws put it:

''Referees are expected to use common sense and to apply the 'spirit of the game' when applying the Laws of the Game, especially when making decisions relating to whether a match takes place and/or continues.''

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Gary ,
once a team is reduced to 7 chances are there will be a whole lot of reason to stop the match especially if the reasoning was card selection and send offs not just a player shortage because a carload of players got lost? Aside from tired and injury the whole match atmosphere is likely tainted with ill will and depending on how much time, weather , the need to get the match result and general behaviour of the participants and spectators chances are a referee will have little trouble pulling the pin if the situation is untenable. Common sense is not as common as we might think but yes consider if the teams REALLY want to continue? There is the issue of safety of those still left could be in jeopardy and of course the type of behaviour on the field that created the reduction might still be present making safety for the opposition an issue.
I refereed a youth match in my early days where the local team thugged their way to 7 players by repeated reckless and serious foul play against a much better visiting Mexican team. I regret to this day for not abandoning that match as I walked away from it with the intent NEVER to referee in that town again I was so disgusted at the attitude of the spectators and at the actions of the kids on the pitch. I actually apologised to the Mexican team for allowing the match to continue!
You are correct in law to wait to see if the player can return before you have to abandon but I urge you to think on HOW the match arrived at where it is as part of your consideration!

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