I was the CR in a game today that was un-eventful except for one thing. I had trouble getting one team back on the field after halftime.
After the halftime, I blew the whistle to summon the teams to the field for the 2nd half. The blue team came out and lined up for the kick-off (they were to take the kick-off to open the half). The red team didn’t move. This is not unusual, so I waited about 30 seconds and blew the whistle again. Still the red team didn’t come out of their huddle.
I waited another 30 seconds and one of the blue players joked that I should just start the game without them. I blew the whistle AGAIN and summoned the captain BY NAME and the coach BY NAME to send out the team and got NO response.
After another few seconds I blew the whistle a FORTH TIME and the red team finally got up, did their little pre-game “HOO-Rah” cheer and took the field.
I considered this an unacceptable delay. Law 12 states I must issue a yellow card for “delaying the restart of play.”
1) Would I be justified in issuing the Yellow Card to the Captain?
2) As odd as this question is, is there something in “the laws” that would prevent the Referee from starting the game without the Red team ON THE FIELD? Law 3 DOESN’T say the teams must be ON the field and they had ignored 3 requests to get on the field?
USSF answer (February 20, 2012):
Both teams must come out as quickly as possible for the start of a period of play when the referee indicates that the time has arrived. Matches are scheduled to begin at a particular time and for a specified amount of time (depending on the rules of the competition). The Laws also provide that players are entitled to an interval at halftime (must be stated in the competition rules, but may not exceed 15 minutes), which can be altered only with the consent of the referee, not by the coach or other officials of one or both teams. In other words, the teams should make good use of their halftime break and be prepared to come out at the referee’s signal.
If the team does not come out to play when ordered by the referee, that team is in violation of the Laws of the Game and the coach and other team officials can be removed for irresponsible behavior in accordance with Law 5.
Despite having that power, the referee should behave proactively and remind the team that the allotted time has passed and encourage them to come out before applying any draconian measures.
All of which leaves the ultimate question — what if they still don’t come out? Certainly, the coach and other team officials can be ordered away for behaving irresponsibly. As for the players (i.e., persons on the field at the end of the first half) could be cautioned for delaying the restart of play (after appropriate warnings, entreaties, etc.), but at some point this has to stop. Simply abandon the match for having fewer than the minimum number of players required to start/restart/continue play based on the rules of competition and include full details in the match report.