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Question Number: 32259

Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct 2/25/2018

RE: Regional Adult

MARK WILDING of Leioa, Spain asks...

Yesterday a substitute was warming up near to his goal and as the ball was going out safely for a goal kick, he chested the ball to his goal keeper.
The ref deemed the ball hadnt gone out so gave the offending player a yellow card and a indirect free kick to the other team inside the penalty area.
Some have said a red card and a penalty should have been given but I believe that the fact that the substitute didnt stop a goal scoring opportunity, a drop ball and yellow card should have been the sanction. or as continue the game without stopping and a yellow card.
What are the rules governing this unusual situation?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Mark ,

The by the book decision would be a PK as this occurs within the substitutes' own PA and be shown a yellow card and cautioned for his actions.

The fact the ball was considered to be in play is not a good thing even if it was apparent the ball was going into touch for a goal kick. The substitute may have thought he was simply saving some time and was unaware he was so close but it is foolish to permit those warming up to be in areas of the field affecting play.

The LOTG were recently changed to where if a substitute was to affect play by entering the FOP it is a DFK or PK it is NO longer an INDFK or drop ball. Given the interference MAY have been a simple mistake of not waiting back far enough and this act in no way denied a goal. The resulting PK for the interference within the penalty area is a huge price to pay! I do not even think I would caution the substitute IF I was to believe he was just trying to be helpful for to think the caution was appropriate seems redundant given the harsh reality of the PK restart for simply trying to save some time. But a referee is supposed to follow the LOTG yet what possible reason would a substitute WANT to enter his PA with no threat to award the opposition a PK??? I RARELY state that LAW 18 is an out for a referee who refuses to obey the LOTG and make up stuff on their own but I have to wonder if in seeing the this incident on the FOP I might well call out, "Leave the bloody ball!"and award an indfk for coming into the FOP AHEAD of playing that ball given it was ONLY going out of play for a GOAL KICK . That said if it was going out for a corner I have zero sympathy! THe law is the law but we can bend here to some extent and not hurt the match . But you did not hear me say that I was just thinking it! lol

If a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player or outside agent
enters the field of play the referee must:
only stop play if there is interference with play
have the person removed when play stops
take appropriate disciplinary action
If play is stopped and the interference was by:
a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player, play restarts with a
direct free kick or penalty kick

Why is it now a direct free kick if a substitute or team official interferes with play or an opponent when it used to be an indirect free kick?

There is a growing problem of interference with play or an opponent by substitutes warming up behind the goal line , or team officials, and this must be discouraged. A direct free kick(and a penalty if in their own penalty area)is a strong sanction


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

First of all the substitute should not have been allowed to warm up behind the goal. Where it must happen the referee should ensure the substitutes are far enough back not to be able to interfere.
Now as the player has interfered with play by stopping the ball leaving the field the restart is an DFK from where the offence took place along with a caution. As it happened inside the penalty area it is a penalty kick. Had he challenged an opponent even legally the restart is also a direct free kick and if it happens inside the penalty area it is also a penalty kick.
The denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity red card is only a factor in escalating the caution up to a dismissal if all the 4 conditions are present. In this situation it does not read like a denial of anything. If it is a DOGSO situation it is a direct free kick offence or penalty kick depending on where it happened.
Now the sanction might seem harsh yet IFAB wishes to stamp out the growing problem of substitutes, team officials entering the field of play to interfere with play. I believe many referees will want to be 110% sure that the ball was not out of play before making the decision here. I would be tempted to restart with a goal kick once there is any doubt.
The final point I would make is I wonder had the referee known it was a penalty kick restart what would he have done?. We would all have NO sympathy for a substitute preventing a goal in similar fashion with a PK award and a red card yet applying the sanction across every scenario is not in my opinion a decision within the 'spirit' of the game and answering the question that IFAB poses of what would football want/expect?
The amended law works for scenarios like these

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Mark,
Based on your description, the technically correct decision should have been a penalty kick and a caution. My colleagues have already given 'chapter and verse' as to why this is. However they also make a couple of other valid points. Firstly, the situation should have been avoided by not allowing the substitute(s) to warm up behind the end line adjacent to the goal in the first place.

Secondly, even if a penalty is awarded, I can't see any justification for a red card in your description of events (no denial of a goal or a goal-scoring opportunity). Even a yellow card seems a little harsh but again, is technically correct as the player has entered the field without the referee's permission - and interfered with play.

Lastly, although a referee should not deliberately choose to ignore a clear offence simply because they don't like the sanction it requires, they equally should not give an offence if they're not sure it took place - and rightly or wrongly, this is generally held to be even more the case when it is a penalty offence. Given that, I'd want to be absolutely sure the ball was not already out of play, before giving the penalty here.

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