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Question Number: 31227

Law 3 - The Players 2/5/2017

RE: Adult

anndeetee of Kilmarnock, Scotland asks...

When taking a corner can only one player leave the field of play? I have just seen a corner where two players were lining up to take the corner, both off the field of play.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Anndeetee,
It is expected for players to be on the FOP as it is technically illegal for them to deliberately wander off the FOP, but as you noted on a corner or throw in at least 1 must be outside to initiate the restart. Your asking if there were more than 1 should it be permitted? Common sense tells us that only one is actually going to take the restart but is the presence of the other(s) really detrimental to the opposition or the game? Most likely not. We allow some leeway as part of actual momentum or normal playing discretion. Milling about just off the pitch in these cases is not something that warrants referee intervention, unless, they start arguing and delaying the restart as to who is going to take it OR try to sneak in around the back door in an unfair manner by running around the goal or along in behind the touchline to pop up unexpectedly. .

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

You may have seen the Hull City v Liverpool first goal where at a corner kick Hull had a left footed player and a right footed player positioned to take the corner kick. No one was concerned about this not least Liverpool who probably felt that the tactic took one player out of the mix. So the referee correctly allowed this to happen.
The referee if he was being ultra picky could opine, although not expressly stated in the laws, that only one player could be off the field of play to take a restart and ask one to step on to the FOP. As no one was concerned about the tactic the referee made the best decision by ignoring it.
Interestingly Liverpool only moved one player out to the corner area at the kick. Did Liverpool feel that the corner could not be taken short with both players coming back on to take a short corner. Typically with two attacking players out at a corner kick good defending suggests a match up in numbers. Perhaps Liverpool felt that it could not be taken short?

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Although the Laws of the Game do hold that players should not leave the field without the referee's permission, this does not apply to players who are temporarily off the field as part of the normal course of play. This includes such things as the taking of a corner, throw-in etc. To answer your question more directly, there is nothing in the law that specifically refers to the number of players that may or may not be off the field at the taking of a corner.

While it's no longer officially part of the laws, the old adage about not penalising trifling or dubious offences come to mind. In this instance, there would not appear to be any clear infringement and in addition it would seem unlikely to have any effect on play.

So even though it is somewhat unusual to have more than one player off the field for a corner, unless there is something particularly egregious about the behaviour involved, I don't really think there is any need for a referee to intervene here.

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