This issue came up during a BU16 game recently. Blue team subs in 4 players at a stoppage of play in second half. Only 3 players come off, leaving blue with 12 players on the field. Game is restarted and within two minutes or so, a blue attacker is fouled by red team player in the penalty area. The referee blows his whistle and signals for a penalty kick. The fouled player was not one of the four players who came on the field at the previous stoppage in play.

While the players are in position to take the penalty kick, the Referee notices the extra player on the field. The Referee cautions the player who should have come off the field (not the player who improperly came onto the field) and that player leaves the field. The Referee changes the restart from a penalty kick to an indirect free kick from the goal area for the red team.

After the game, it is suggested that the proper restart should have been the penalty kick. The Referee insists at first that there is an express ATR mandating a restart by an indirect free kick. When that mandate cannot be found, the Referee insists that ATR 3.20 instructs that if a goal is scored when the team has too many players on the field, that goal should be disallowed and the game is restarted with indirect free kick from the goal area. Because a penalty kick is similar to a goal, the indirect kick was mandated by the spirit of the game, if not the laws of the game. The Referee also concedes that logically, any other restart should be changed to a indirect free kick if, during stoppage in play,

Questions: What is the proper restart when, during stoppage in play other after the scoring of a goal, it is discovered that one team has too many players on the field? Does it make any difference ifÊplay was stopped to award a penalty kick to the team with more than 11 players on the field? How important is it to identify and caution the correct player — the substitute who came onto the field to give a team a twelfth player? Whose responsibility is it to assure that too many players do not come on the field, the AR or the CR?

Answer (October 23, 2007):
The only reason for the entire problem was lack of attention to detail by the entire officiating crew, who failed completely to do their duty. In this case, it is impossible to know which player to caution and the referee and assistant referees must bear the blame for that. There are too many imponderables: The player who was already on the field at the substitution is not at fault, nor is the substitute who came on as a new player, clearly expecting that his/her teammate had left the field. The only possible solution is to remove the additional player (as determined by the referee) from the field.

The correct restart is the penalty kick. Play was stopped for the penal offense, not for the additional player on the field, who was discovered only accidentally.

The error lies entirely with the referee and the assistant referees, all of whom should have monitored the substitution process more carefully, as directed by common sense and the Advice to Referees:

If, while the game is in progress, the referee finds that a team has more than the allowed number of persons on the field, play must be stopped and the extra person identified and removed from the field. Other than through referee error, this situation can occur only if someone enters the field illegally. The “extra player” can include an outside agent (such as a previously expelled player or a spectator); a player who had been given permission to leave or been ordered off by the referee for correction of a problem, but re-entered without permission; or a substitute or substituted player who enters without permission and/or during play.In all competitions, especially those that allow substituted players to return, the officials must be extremely vigilant in counting the number of players who leave and substitutes who enter to prevent problems of this nature. Similarly, players off the field temporarily who require the permission of the referee to re-enter must be monitored to ensure that they do not participate in play until this requirement and any others (e. g., inspection to confirm the correction of the equipment or bleeding problem) are met.

And some advice that every referee should now know by heart, but obviously these officials did not:

After the player being replaced has left the field, the referee must signal permission for the substitute to enter. A substitution is not complete and the substitute may not take part in the game until he or she has entered the field of play. Referees who deviate from the formal process by which a substitute becomes a player — whether in the interest of saving time or because the steps are thought to be too complex and cumbersome — do so at their own peril and will eventually discover that the Laws of the Game specify the procedure for very good reasons. Deviations may lead to situations that the referee cannot settle within the Law.//rest snipped//

How much trouble would have been saved if the officiating team had followed this advice and done their jobs correctly?

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