Today at a referee clinic, we discussed the new memorandum about when players leave the field to commit misconduct. Unless I understood incorrectly, I believe that they said that if a player is running and leaves the field of play to strike an AR, it would be a dropped ball. They said that since the misconduct was not against an opponent, a dropped ball is the only possible restart.

However, looking at the memorandum now, it does not specify whether or not that misconduct must occur against an opponent, just that the intent to misconduct was the reason for leaving the field of play. By this logic, wouldn’t there be a IFK for the opposing team?

Additionally, if a player left the field to strike a substitute on his/her own team, would that also be an IFK?

USSF answer (February 24, 2009):
We assume you refer to Supplementary Memorandum 2008/2009, which contains this information:

Law 12
In its guidelines, the International Board has in effect created two scenarios for when the referee stops play for misconduct committed off the field by a player. In the first case, the referee must decide if the player left the field in the normal course of play and, while off the field committed the offense. In this case, after dealing with the misconduct, the referee will restart play with a dropped ball where the ball was when play was stopped (except for the special circumstances involving restarts in the goal area). However, if the referee decides that the player left the field for the purpose of committing the offense and after dealing with the misconduct, play is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team where the ball was when play was stopped (except for the special circumstances involving restarts in the goal area).

In the first case, a dropped ball is the correct restart based on the fact that misconduct was committed off the field. In the second case, an indirect free kick is the correct restart because the player has illegally left the field before committing the restart.

Please remember that misconduct is misconduct, not necessarily involving any foul, and may be committed by a player, a substitute, or a substituted player against anyone, anywhere, and at any time. A foul, on the other hand, is any unfair or unsafe act committed ONLY BY A PLAYER, against an opponent (or the opposing team), on the field, and while the ball is in play.

We hope that your instructor had the knowledge and wisdom to explain to everyone in the clinic that the indirect free kick restart is not for the misconduct committed off the field, but for the illegal exit from the field.

That, of course, opens up an interesting discussion of whether, since misconduct was committed in the departure as well as in the conduct off the field, then it would follow that the referee could also give a second yellow and then a red. But that decision would be up to the referee on that game, at that moment, with those players, and in that specific situation.

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