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Question Number: 31607

Law 3 - The Players 6/16/2017

RE: Adult

mark rich of royalton , vermont usa asks...

Hi It makes me angry to watch the best players in the world walk slowly off the pitch when being subbed out . Even walking 50 yards more slowly than I walk down the street. Why no rule ?? Millions of us have to watch this boring disrespectful ' show off '

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Mark
Now what you witness is not the players attracting attention or showing off yet rather using up all or more of the time that would be expected for a substitution. If a team is behind in the game then substitutions are pretty quick with players trotting off maybe even sprinting. In those instances they are hoping to gain a few seconds. Players in the Pro game know this from both perspective and they also know that they would do the same in similar situations. So they rarely get too animated about it. What goes around comes around.
Now the law is that the referee can and does add on for time lost through substitutions. Referees can add on all the time lost from the stoppage in play until the game resumes or they can add on what they believe is the notional time taken to make a substitution of say 30 seconds. The notional time of 30 secs is not part of the law yet it is widely used and that is what players use to their advantage in these situations
The referee can also if so inclined to take disciplinary action against a player through the issue of a card for unsporting behaviour of delaying the restart. It does happen yet it is rare and it is more likely to see the referee and 4th official verbally hurrying the exiting player up.
As an exercise on your question I watched on video a recent tight game between Real Madrid and Barcelona from a substitution timing perspective. Gareth Bale was being substituted near the end and clearly he did not rush off citing a tight hamstring after lying down. The whole process took just over 30 seconds which would be the notional time that a referee might add on. Bale was not attracting attention yet rather using up as much time as he could without incurring the ire of the referee. It just so happens that with nothing to attract the cameras the focus is more on the departing player.
Now it is acknowledged that teams adopt all sorts of time using tactics near the end of games and it is up to the referee to manage that within the laws such as cautions and adding on time. It can be difficult to manage particularly when I see teams making unnecessary substitutions near the end of a game. I had occasion in a game recently to add on 30 seconds more for a substitution in added time just as I was about to end the game. It had the opposite effect as without the substitution I would have ended the game within 10 secs. As it was, the time added on more than adequately compensated for the time lost. It did not deal though with perhaps the frustration of stopping the game for a time with maybe momentum being lost and the team being frustrated yet there is nothing the referee can do about that as the team is entitled to make the substitution. As already mentioned he can sanction with a caution though if the player does not leave in a reasonable timely manner.
At the higher levels of the game if injury is an issue the referee can ask for the player to be removed on a stretcher if he is unable to move freely.
So unfortunately the substitution process has morphed into what it is. I share your frustration at times yet I think that the only meaningful way to change it is to change the process either the timing method or the substitution process. I watch other sports such as rugby which has a stadium clock which gets stopped for stoppages. It restarts when play resumes. I would think that in rugby added time could run to over 10 minutes in games with not a bat of concern as no one knows the exact amount of added time. Imagine a 4th official putting up 10 minutes of added time on a board!!
Another option which is also unlikely is to allow play to continue and only allow the substitute to enter when the exiting player crosses the touchline on all substitutions with the exception of serious injury during play. There was a time when there was no subs and I recall games where players perhaps looked after themselves on the FOP with no intervention from the sideline and the player had to move off himself to be substituted.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Mark,
save angry for the way the world is in turmoil. I suspect slightly irritated at a prima donna waltzing their way off the pitch when a referee can caution if he is truly flaunting and add the time as it really is not a huge deal is more appropriate.

When I have control over the time I have little reason to get irritated. It is in tournament settings with matches waiting on the touchlines that such antics begin to create problems as starting on time becomes a bigger issue. Unlimited subs require a definitive set of protocols so as not to waste the play time . When you only have 3 subs for each team , dragging the feet is hardly a real issue! We can CAUTION ! We can ADD time nuff said!

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