I have two similar Hypothetical questions:
1) Before a game begins, a player commits a sending-off offense and is shown the red card. Is that teams’ number of players reduced for the game?
2) Similar situation, a sending off offense, but now it occurs at half time. Is the team number reduced in this instance for the second half?

Obviously, if these occurred on the field while the ball was in play, there is a reduction in number of players. I know the referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the field of play and lasts until the referee has left the area after the match has been comleted. I’m just not sure whether punishment for a send-off type of offense extends into playing time if it occurred before the match or during half time. I believe that at other times when the ball is not in play during the match (i.e., a “dead ball”) a send-off offense would reduce the number of players, so I suspect that this is the case here also. I just need some clarification and justification within LOTG.

USSF answer (November 13, 2007):
A hypothetical question runs the risk of receiving a hypothetical answer — But not in this case.

1. No, the team’s numbers are not reduced if a player is sent off before the kick-off. Law 3 tells us: “A player who has been sent off before the kick-off may be replaced only by one of the named substitutes.”

2. Yes, if a player is sent off during the halftime period, the team must play short in the second half. If this occurs during extra time or between periods of extra time, the same guidance applies. There is no “justification” for this in the Laws, as it is clear that a dismissal while the game is in progress, i. e., from kick-off until the game has been ended, means that the team whose player is sent off must play short.

You will find further guidance in the USSF publication “Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game”:

The referee’s authority begins upon arrival at the area of the field of play and continues until he or she has left the area of the field after the game has been completed. The referee’s authority extends to time when the ball is not in play, to temporary suspensions, to the half-time break, and to additional periods of play or kicks from the penalty mark required by the rules of the competition.

For a synopsis of when cards may be shown to players, substitutes, or substituted players, see Advice 5.17.

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.

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.)

Leave a Reply