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Question Number: 32076

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 12/4/2017

RE: Competitive Under 13

Eugene of San Jose, CA 95132 asks...

One of the players, unhappy with how the game is progressing, just walks off and leaves the game in the middle of a play. Before anyone realizes what's happening, he's half way to the parking lot. What is the proper procedure?

What if the player decides to return to the game later (either return substitutions are allowed, or the team didn't substitute for him and played a man down in the meantime)?

What if he decides to come back and watch the rest of the game as a fan, on the 'parents side'?

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eugene
The technical answer is that the player is cautioned for entering, re-entering or deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee's permission.
Now if he has gone off and taking no further part a caution is probably not feasible or required. However should he think better of his actions and returns to get involved then the caution sanction is required. If he returns to take no further part then again a caution is moot.
I would not get too bothered about Underage players throwing a strop and walking off. It is childish behaviour so it needs to be treated as that by the match referee. Sanctions are required to manage and control the players, coaches in and around the game.
I once had a player run off in haste towards the changing rooms to return some times later and sought permission to return. When I spoke with him he apologised for his action which was to go urgently to the toilet. A caution was not required! The opponents were not affected and it was done for a legitimate reason. Permission would have been given if he had the time to ask.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eugene,
Technically, the player has earned himself a caution for leaving the field without the ref's permission. If he's halfway to the parking lot before anyone notices, it would be logistically rather difficult to issue the caution. As ref McHugh says, at youth level you might choose to ignore it but if you wanted to, you could include it in your match report.

If the player wanted to return to the game later, that would be the time to caution him. If he returns but takes no further part, that would be a little more problematic for me. If he's within the environs of the field he's back under the ref's jurisdiction and so technically you could caution him for the original leaving without permission at that point if you so desired.

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