Question:
I have a question regarding substitutions and whether anyone has ever encountered something like this before. I was coaching a U11 boys/girls team (full field 11 vs 11 games). We’re behind in the game but manage to score a goal. The ref is walking the ball back to half and I call for a sub. He denies me the change. I question why? He says “its the other teams advantage”. Now I am somewhat confused and ask if we scored because I thought perhaps I missed something. He became annoyed and chastised me for questioning his authority. And fyi, there was a good 15 mins remaining in the half so its not like the halftime was upon us. And I was neither yelling or being out of control. I was more confused then anything.

At halftime, I raised my hand up almost like a schoolboy and asked the ref if I could speak to him and clarify the rule (and I did so privately so as not to embarrass him). He proceeded to get very defensive, telling me I was wrong with the rules and that I can only sub on a goalkick or when its my advantage (like when the other team scores against me). He then tells me that I cant sub when its not my advantage nor can I sub when its a free kick or corner kick (which I already knew). Then he goes off on a tangent about having refereed soccer for over 8 yrs and I smiled and just walked away…realizing it was useless asking him about it (and not bother informing him I have been playing the game for over 32 yrs). Just curious if a rule like that could possibly ever be in place. I keep asking the local committee to clarify but no one will get back to me. Personally, I was just trying to be kind to the guy refereeing as I didnt want him making the same mistake in a game that truly meant something but he took it as if I was questioning his authority I think. And no other ref in this same age group has ever called the same no-sub after a goal rule.

USSF answer (August 11, 2009):
Mysterious are the ways of referees — there is no rule under the Laws of the Game that a team may substitute only when it is to their “advantage.” Mysterious also are the ways of the people who “craft” the rules for various competitions.

Are you certain of the rules for substitution in your league? We ask solely because many competitions do not follow the Laws of the Game and allow substitutions only on certain occasions. They thus operate counter to the Laws of the Game, which allow substitution at any stoppage of play. The Federation has no direct control over these leagues, which are affiliated with the state association to which they or their club belong, but these affiliation links carry certain obligations, one of which is to maintain local rules of competition which are consistent with the Laws of the Game (including having local variations which are consistent with the areas in which the Laws of the Game permit variations). If any affiliated team, club, or state association were to pose a question to the Federation, as you are doing here, our obligation is to answer based on the presumption that this obligation is being honored.