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Question Number: 3827

Law 18 - Common Sense

RE: Rec Adult

Dave of , Ct USA asks...

Can a player leave the field of play and walk back on legally? Sure it's allowed during throw ins, corner kicks, and to stop a ball from crossing the touch line but can you step off to talk to a coach, get a drink ect? Also, is their anything about how far off the field of play that you step off. For example just 1 foot or both feet.

Answer provided by Referee Keith Contarino

That's a good question. A player may leave the field of play without the referee's permission during the normal course of play and likewise come back on. That said, I see no reason why a player should have to leave the field of play to get a drink or talk to a coach. There is no reason why the player cannot stay on the field and the coach come to the touchline and give him a drink or talk to him. I would not allow a player to just decide to leave,get a drink, take a nap, eat a sandwich or whatever just because he felt like it without permission. If a player is injured or bleeding and is near the touchline and makes it off to get treatment, that would be different and common sense would allow it.However, he should get permission to return. In answer to what consititutes off the field, the boundary lines are part of the field so the player would have to completely cross them.

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Answer provided by Referee Dawson

Hi Dave ,. as my good colleague REF Contarino points out players leave the FOP all the time. Even to show non involvment in offside. As stated in the course of normal play. That said however, a player must have permission to deliberately leave the FOP. Mind you if a panic to get to the washroom or off to treat an injury even though not sanctioned I doubt we would get bent out of shape..I would expect a signal to reenter. While it might sound fussy it emphisizes the need for the referee to be aware of who is doing what as illegal substitutions and errors occur this way. The fact is that entering the FOP and Exiting the FOP without the referee's permission are cautionable actions subject to a yellow card. My suggestion avoid doing so . If you are fair and above board most referees will cut you a little slack now and then but if you push it you know the score...I often tell players in very hot conditions that taking drinks along the touchline are fine but to be ready when play begins and toss the bottles back out. ..IFA has noticed that the question of how and when players and referees may drink liquids during the course of play seems to be the subject of some confusion. In circular no. 619 dated 25 June, the world governing body called attention to the fact that because the balance of water in the body was vital to health, FIFA not only allowed liquids to be drunk during a game but, in fact, actively encouraged it. ..However, so as to avoid disorderliness on the field and injury from bottles being thrown through the air, the following rules had to be observed. ..Liquids may only be drunk during stoppages in play. .Drinks must be contained in plastic bottles and handed to the players on the sidelines. .Neither the bottles nor any other receptacles may be thrown on to the field of play. .The goalkeeper may keep a drink in a plastic bottle in the corner of his goal. .For the players' benefit, the plastic bottles may be placed around the pitch approximately 1 metre away from the sidelines and goal-lines but only as long as they do not obstruct the assistant referees in the execution of their duty. .Cheers

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