[An instructor asks:] Can the referee prevent a youth player from continuing to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a referee’s position.
The California Youth Soccer Association-South “Rules and Regulations” state:
2.5. Player Safety
2.5.1. No player should be allowed to play in any regularly scheduled league or tournament game with an injury which can be aggravated by playing or which constitutes a danger to others. Can the referee prevent a youth player to continue to participate in play, or return to play, after he has suffered an apparent concussion? I am looking for a general guideline from a refereeÕs position.
I will follow up with Cal-South for an elaboration, e.g., does the referee have authority to enforce this rule, and why is the word “should” used instead of “shall”. And how does the referee judge if the injury can be aggravated, etc.
p.s. – it would be fantastic if one could do a search on ALL of the “Ask A Referee” articles, without opening each archive and repeating the search. That way I would know if you had touched on this before.
USSF answer (December 19, 2007):
1. The first portion of this answer repeats an answer of September 27, 2006:
In reading this answer, please remember that the U. S. Soccer Federation has no authority over games not played under its aegis, nor over the referees who officiate them.Under the Laws of the Game, the referee has no direct authority to prevent a player from participating for unspecified reasons. While the spirit of the game requires the referee to ensure the safety of the players, it does not give the referee the right to prevent the further participation of a player who has been treated for injury and cleared to play by a trainer or medical doctor. The only possible reason would be that player was still bleeding or had blood on his or her uniform.
If there is a trainer and/or medically trained person officially affiliated with the team or the competition authority (including, where relevant, the tournament), the referee should defer to that person’s decision as to whether a player’s return to the field following a serious injury would be safe. In the absence of such a person, the referee retains the authority under the Law to determine if a player is still seriously injured and, if necessary, to stop play and to require that player to again leave the field. The Law does not allow the referee to prevent the return of the player to the field, but once play resumes with that player on the field, the referee reverts to his or her original duty to stop play if, in the referee’s opinion, the player is seriously injured. As always, the referee must use common sense in making such a potentially controversial decision and must include full details in the match report.
Once the player has been required to leave the field, the referee remains in complete control of the situation by virtue of the fact that the player cannot return until and unless he or she receives the permission of the referee — simply withhold it if you are convinced the player remains seriously injured. It takes courage to do this but, if the referee is certain of the state of the player, so be it.
For additional information on this matter, see the USSF position paper “Handling Injuries,” dated October 12, 2007.
2. As to searching for old answers, many have tried and none has succeeded in finding a way to search the archives.