My basic assumption about this was challenged this weekend by a seasoned referee. I realize that the ref must be notified if another player already on the pitch changes places with the goalkeeper during the game, lest the ref caution each player at the next stoppage. I had always been led to believe that this same rule applied to coaches changing keepers during the halftime interval, that if the ref is not notified of the change, then the cautions apply. I was told I was wrong on my understanding and that cautions could only be issued if the change happened during the run of play, not during halftime.

Keep in mind that the majority of my games are youth games with open, unlimited┬ásubstitution permitted and have always chosen to “remind” coaches of this if I noticed a goalkeeper change at halftime rather than issue cards. Nevertheless, should it be desireable for me to do so, could I caution both players involved in a GK change at halftime if I were not notified, or does this apply only to a GK changing places with a field player on the pitch during the run of play.

Thank you for you assistance.

USSF answer (July 7, 2009):
Although that is no longer in writing, the Federation still recommends that the referee be proactive in such cases and ask if there will be/have been any substitutions at the halftime break, particularly at the youth level. The Law itself now requires that the full substitution process be completed before the half begins or any period of extra time begins. See the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees at the back of the law book. The final bullet point applies here.

Substitution Procedure
– A substitution may be made only during a stoppage in play
– The assistant referee signals that a substitution has been requested
– The player being substituted receives the referee’s permission to leave the field of play, unless he is already off the field of play for reasons that comply with the Laws of the Game
– The referee gives the substitute permission to enter the field of play
– Before entering the field of play, the substitute waits for the player he is replacing to leave the field
– The player being substituted is not obliged to leave the field of play on the halfway line
– Permission to proceed with a substitution may be refused under certain circumstances, e. g., if the substitute is not ready to enter the field of play
– A substitute who has not completed the substitution process by setting foot onto the field of play cannot restart play by taking a throw-in or corner kick
– If a player who is about to be replaced refuses to leave the field of play, play continues
– If a substitution is made during the half-time interval or before extra time, the process is to be completed before the second half or extra time kicks off.

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