When does the requirement to “Reduce to Equate” end.


At the final whistle Blue has 11 players, Red 9. The Blue captain tells 2 players that they cannot participate in the KFTPM. As the Blue players are leaving the center circle, and before the first kick a Red player says something and a fight breaks out between the 2 Blue players and the Red player. The 3 players (2 X Blue + 1 X Red) each receive a Red Card. As Red now has only 8 eligible players must Blue now reduce to equate again? If yes, does the “Reduce to Equate” period extend until the first kick is taken?

USSF answer (December 8, 2009):
The requirement to reduce to equate pertains only to the players remaining on the field or those temporarily off the field with the permission of the referee when the game ends. If a player is removed from the field for misconduct or injury AFTER the kicks begin the contest continues without him or her. If this occurs BEFORE the kicks begin, reduce to equate applies. So in your situation — the misconduct occurring before the first kick is taken — the two Blue players (who were ineligible in any event) are sent off and another Blue player is removed to meet the requirement to reduce to equate because the Red player has been sent off, the teams now play 8 Blue versus 8 Red.

We distinguish between when the “KFTPM phase of play” begins and when the “kicks from the mark begin.” The KFTPM phase begins the moment the final whistle sounds (including any required additional playing time). The kicks themselves begin only with the taking of the first kick. The distinction exists because the requirement to reduce to equate ends with the taking of the first kick.

This means that if Blue loses a player to injury or misconduct while, say, the coin toss is being performed to determine which team kicks first, Red will reduce by one. Marking the kicks phase is important because, once this phase begins, no substitution is permitted (except for an injured goalkeeper and only if the team has a permissible substitution remaining to it under the rules of competition). You will find this information in the USSF position paper of April 2, 2009, on Kicks from the Penalty Mark. (See the subsequent post, Kicks from the Penalty Mark — Checklist.)

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