How should the following matter be addressed?
Our game involved experienced upper teen-aged players. During the game, a defender attempted to kick the ball into touch/out of play to stop the attack. The ball struck a waiting substitute (in this instance, a substitute for the defending team) at the midfield line who was standing too close to the touch line; thus, the ball never completely crossed the touch line but rebounded and remained on the pitch.
In our game, the referee stopped play, verbally admonished the substitute, and restarted using a drop ball near the intersection of the touch and midfield lines. This remedy just doesn’t feel right to me. The substitute had control of where they were and, by being too close to the touch line, committed an act that interfered with play.
In conversation with other referees, several other alternatives to the above procedure have been discussed:
· Caution (yellow card) to the substitute for unsporting behavior (UB), restart with an indirect kick by the non-offending team at the point where the ball struck the substitute. This is my preference as it recognizes the substitute has been improperly involved in the play.
· Play on, as the substitute has the same status as any part of the field – overhanging tree limb, corner flag, referees, etc. I am uncomfortable with this as I do not see the substitute as being something either incidental or necessary to the field or maintenance of the game.
· Treat the ball as if it had completely crossed the touch line (ignoring the contact) and allow the attacking team a throw-in. While this fulfills the nature of how the play should have developed, it certainly lacks honesty and impinges on the integrity of the game and its referees.
Depending upon the proper remedy, what would be the restart if the struck substitute were on the attacking, rather than defending, team?
USSF answer (September 16, 2009):
If a substitute has entered the field without the permission of the referee — which this substitute has done by being too close to the line, no matter how inadvertently, and playing the ball — the Law prescribes the correct punishment and restart. (See the Interpretations of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees at the “back” of the book, Law 3.)