In a youth soccer match, a player from Team A is cautioned and leaves the field for a substitute. He immediately desires to return to the game and goes to the halfway line to await the next substitution opportunity. During subsequent play the ball crosses the touch line. Thinking that it is now a substitution opportunity for Team A, the assistant referee raises his flag to signal substitution. Prior to being beckoned by the center referee, the substitute runs onto the field. The throw-in has been awarded by the referee to Team B. Team B takes the throw-in. With the ball back in play, the center referee notices that there are now 12 men on the field. He stops play and issues a caution to the player who left the field after he stopped play rather than the substitute. Is this correct procedure?

Answer (September 14, 2007):
This is one of those problems that could be fixed easily if the officials would only pay a bit more attention to their responsibilities and communicate better with one another. In fact, because of the officials’ errors, both players should be cautioned: the player who was on the field left without the referee’s permission and the substitute who came in entered the field without the referee’s permission.

However, a grain of intelligence might force the referee to use common sense to caution neither player and simply have them resume their original places and then conduct the substitution correctly.

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