3:00 minutes before the end of the first half a player gets a yellow card. The referee blows his whistle ending the first half. The player that got the yellow card a few minutes earlier starts to argue with the referee and uses foul language. The referee shows him a second yellow card and then the red card. The player is ejected from the game. At the start of the second half the team from the ejected player starts the second half with 11 players and not short. The referees all agreed that the game period had ended and that he was not a field player at the time of the ejection.

Was that the correct call?

USSF answer (October 5, 2009):
Coach, we recommend that referees, coaches, players, and parents all read the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game.” The 2009/2010 edition is available for download from the USSF website. It contains the following information directly applicable to your question — and establishes clearly that the player who receives a second caution during a break in the game must be sent off for that second caution and may not be replaced:

Misconduct committed by a player or a substitute prior to the start of the match, during the match, and 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.

Cautions issued prior to the start of the game or during breaks between periods are recorded and they are counted for purposes of sending a player from the field for receiving a second caution during the match. To prevent misunderstandings, the referee should inform officials of both teams before the first period of play begins of any cautions or send-offs occurring prior to the start of the match.

If a player or substitute is cautioned or dismissed for misconduct which has occurred during a break or suspension of play, the card must be shown on the field before play resumes.

If a player is dismissed before the match begins, the player may be replaced by a named substitute, but the team is not allowed to add any names to its roster and its number of permissible substitutions is not reduced.

The referee may send off and show the red card for violent conduct to a player, substitute, or substituted player after the game has been restarted if the assistant referee had signaled the offense before the restart.

Players or substitutes who have been sent off may not remain in the team area, but must be removed from the environs of the field. If this is not practical because of the age or condition of the player, the team officials are responsible for the behavior of the player or substitute.

There can be no “temporary expulsion” of players who have been cautioned, nor may teams be forced to substitute for a player who has been cautioned.

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. The referee may display cards as long as he or she remains on the field of play after the game is over. Referees are advised to avoid remaining in the area of the field unnecessarily. (However, see Advice 5.13.)

What your question does not include is the statement in the scenario that the player used foul language. In that case the referee’s action should have been a DIRECT red card, not a second yellow. ¬†What is not stated directly in the quotation from the Advice, but is still relevant to the question, is that any player who was a “player,” i. e., recognized by the referee as being on the field as a player, at the end of the first half is still a player of record until officially substituted (assuming Law 3 substitution rules) which means among other things that the referee must be notified, must give permission, and the player must step onto the field with that permission. ¬†Absent any of these steps in the substitution process, a coach cannot declare someone no longer a player.

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