I am the president of a soccer club that plays its matches in [a state association]. Yesterday, one of our players received a yellow card for unsporting behavior after the final whistle had blown for the match to be completed. The player was upset at the frequent calling of “unjustified” offsides, and left the pitch without permission in the closing seconds.Is it legitimate for a referee to issue cards after a match?
USSF answer (February 28, 2007):
Yes, it is, provided that the teams have not completely left the field. Here are the instructions we give our referees, taken from the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:
3.21 DISCIPLINARY PROCEDURES BEFORE, DURING, AND AFTER THE GAME
Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, during breaks between playing periods is subject to a formal caution or a send-off, as appropriate. Yellow and red cards, which are now mandatory indications of cautions and send-offs, may be shown only for misconduct committed by players, substitutes, or substituted players during a match. “During a match” includes:
(a) the period of time immediately prior to the start of play during which players and substitutes are physically on the field warming up, stretching, or otherwise preparing for the match;
(b) any periods in which play is temporarily stopped;
(c) half time or similar breaks in play;
(d) required overtime periods;
(e) kicks from the penalty mark if this procedure is used in case a winner must be determined.
(f) the period of time immediately following the end of play during which the players and substitutes are physically on the field but in the process of exiting.
Postgame: Any misconduct committed by players or substitutes after the field has been cleared must be described in the game report and reported to the competition authority. Since such misconduct cannot result in a formal caution or send-off, no card may be displayed. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily.
The fact that the player left the field of play without permission before the match warranted a caution, as the match had not yet been completed. The referee’s action was within the requirements of the Law.