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Question Number: 31416

Law 5 - The Referee 4/2/2017

RE: Other

IAN DOIG of dunfermline, fife scotland asks...

how long can the referee stop a player from coming back onto the pitch after treatment.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ian
The answer can depend on the location and nature of the injury.
1. In the case of a blood injury the referee may prevent re entry (without a 4th official to check during play) until a natural stoppage so that the bleeding has stopped and (if required) the players jersey change can be checked
2. If a player last left the FOP in an area where play is still concentrated the referee may feel that it would be unfair to allow the return of the player into the fray unexpectedly at that time. He may wait to call the player on when play has left that area of the field of play. During play a player must also only enter at a touchline.
As Referee Grove states the referees role is not to prevent a timely return yet to do so as set out by the law and in a manner that does not cause a problem for the game itself. I have seen players who left to get a blood injury treated get irate because the cannot return immediately. The Law requires for the player to be checked. BTW at times not all referees enforce this correctly because they get caught up in the game and perhaps forget that it was a blood injury treating it like a regular injury return or they are not fully informed on what the Laws require which states ** The player may only re-enter on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped and there is no blood on the equipment**. That can be delegated to another official.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ian,
a very good question. The LOTG do not actually stipulate a duration of specific time, just that it CAN NOT be until the referee oks the return once the criteria to return has been met. The referee may want to inspect certain things themselves or entrust a thumbs up from the 4th or AR.
I have seen irritated players jumping up and down on the touchlines wanting to get on being ignored by the referee. It could be as my colleague says waiting so their entry is not advantageous but it could also be for that player being a diving instructor and wasting time as a pain in the kester thus the referee is in no real hurry to get him back on.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ian,
There is no set answer to this question. I also wonder if maybe you're looking at it from slightly the wrong angle. The focus of referee's role here is not so much to stop the player returning, as to permit the player to return, but only once the correct conditions are met.

Firstly, the law says a player ''may only re-enter after play has restarted.'' Furthermore, ''if the ball is in play, re-entry must be from the touchline'' which may also cause a delay if the injured player has gone off over the end line as they must usually make their way round to the side of the pitch before being eligible to return (unless play has stopped again).

Then there are the two factors ref McHugh refers to: a blood injury requiring a check that bleeding has stopped along with usually, a change of shirt; and waiting until play is not in the immediate vicinity of where the player will enter the field.

So it all depends - sometimes the player can be permitted to return almost immediately but sometimes there might be a significant delay until the circumstances allow for a legal and safe return.

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