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Question Number: 32569

Law 3 - The Players 7/4/2018

RE: Professional

Andrew Sikora of London, UK asks...

I have seen substitutes in the World Cup coming onto the field to celebrate with their team when they score.
Is it not against the rules for a substitute to enter the field of play without permission of a match official?
Punishable with a Yellow Card.

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Andrew
It would appear that FIFA has adopted a relaxed attitude to the control of substitutes at this World Cup. The World Cup competition rules allows for 6 substitutes to warm up in designated areas behind the goals if available and a restriction to three substitutes at a time if only the area behind the assistant is available.
Now when a goal is scored substitutes and team officials should not enter the field of play yet that has been happening I expect based on the fact that it is nigh impossible to stop. FIFA obviously do not want wholesale issue of cautions so no sanctions have been forthcoming. In one game with six substitutes warming up behind the goal all those 6 subs came on to celebrate with the players. The referee did try to intervene by insisting that they left immediately which was somewhat ignored.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Andrew ,
FIFA has realized it serves NO useful purpose to have such an emotional event be tainted with card happy showings for expressions of sheer joy. So unless these guys go utterly crazy ,running naked into the stands, a stern, common guys we have a game to finish is likely all that will be done! I have noticed a far more relaxed attitude around the technical areas thus far.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Andrew,
While the Laws of the Game would indeed allow for a referee to give out half a dozen or more yellow cards at one time in such a situation, I think any referee that chose this course of action would be rightly ridiculed for doing so.

The Laws sagely point out that in applying the law, referees should be mindful of the spirit of the game and what football wants/expects. I firmly believe that it would run counter to the spirit of the game to caution players for such an understandable display of exuberance and that nobody in football wants or expects that players should be punished for getting a little carried away, in what are probably the most emotionally-charged matches that most of them have ever taken part in.

I think we should also consider why this part of the law exists in the first place. I would say its primary intent was to cover situations where a single person comes onto the field during play either intending to or in fact giving their team an unfair advantage (or comes onto the field for nefarious purposes such as to provoke or prolong a confrontation). As far as I'm aware, it was never intended to be used for players coming onto the field for the relatively benign and understandable purpose of celebrating a goal when play is already stopped.

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