It’s very near the end of the game and Team A is losing to Team B.
Team A has a throw-in near the benches and is pressing very hard to equalize the score. As Team A’s player begins to take the throw-in Team B’s substitute goalkeeper, sitting on the bench, throws another ball into the field to prevent the restart.
The referee correctly identifies the goalkeeper, shows the red card, and sends him off for the misconduct. Now here’s the issue.
Some referees are opining that a substitute is considered “bench personnel” while at the bench. Therefore, the match report should say the GK is sent off for “irresponsible behavior.”
I argue that a substitute is a substitute, not bench personnel. As such the substitute GK can only be sent off for one of the seven reasons stated in Law 12 — and “irresponsible behavior” is not one of them.
USSF answer (November 6, 2011):
Neither the substitute goalkeeper nor any other player may be sent off for the offense of “irresponsible behavior.” He may only be cautioned for unsporting behavior, unless something else occurs during the period following the initial cautionable misconduct of throwing the extra ball onto the field.
This was made clear in a position paper of March 22, 2006, on “Management of Behavior in the Technical Area.” The pertinent quote from that paper Is:
“,. . . in match conditions where spectators are not allowed near the immediate area of the field (for example, restricting spectators to stadium seats or behind barriers), the persons allowed in or near the field are strictly limited to players, substitutes, and team officials. For purposes of this memorandum, anyone officially allowed in the technical area who is not a rostered player or substitute (or substituted player) is a team official.”
Thus, no player (including substitutes and substituted players) may be sent off for “irresponsible behavior.” Such persons are not “bench personnel” and are thus not subject to the same treatment as team officials (coaches, trainers, medical personnel, etc.). Players (including substitutes and substituted players) may be sent off only for one of the seven reasons listed in Law 12, which covers players, etc: