I observed an interesting situation last weekend. At the start of the second half, the ref counted players and somehow missed the 12th on Team B. Team A kicks off and immediately loses the ball. Team B takes it in and scores in the first few seconds. To the ref’s credit, he senses something is amiss and begins to count players. Team A’s coach picks up on this and and starts screaming “No goal! Too many players!” The ref goes to both coaches and says something. He then waves off the goal and restarts the second half. We found out later he told the coaches his watch had not started so he just restarted the 2nd half, disallowing the goal. Interesting way to solve a problem, but is it correct?

USSF answer (April 30, 2007):
A very creative solution, but, despite demonstrating the referee’s ability to think outside the box, it was not quite correct.

We supplied this answer last December. It is still valid:
USSF answer (December 12, 2006):
In all cases the extra player is removed and cautioned (unless an outside agent) for unsporting behavior.

If the extra player is discovered only after the ball has been kicked off, the goal counts. The game is restarted in accordance with the Law–i. e., if it went out of play, the restart is a throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, or free kick, depending on the reason the ball was out of play. If the referee stopped play, it is an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped play.

If the extra player is discovered BEFORE the kick-off, the goal is canceled only if the extra player was on the scoring team or if the extra person was an outside agent who, in the opinion of the referee, did not in any way interfere with play or any player. The restart is determined by who the extra “player” was. If it was an outside agent–not a player or a substitute or substituted player–the restart is a dropped ball at the top of the defending team’s goal area. If it was a player who had left the game with the referee’s permission but re-entered without permission , the restart is an indirect free kick for the defending team, to be taken from within their goal area. If it was a substitute who had entered without the referee’s permission, the restart is an indirect free kick to be taken from the defending team’s goal area.

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