Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

RSS FEED Subscribe Now!

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef
Panel Login

Question Number: 30812

Law 3 - Number of Players 9/25/2016

RE: Rec. Girls U15 Under 16

Elizabeth of Bay point, CALIFORNIA Usa asks...

Ive been a soccer parent for 8 year but never really paied much attention to all the soccer rules untill i became a coach to my own team U15 girls. During half time at our first game the goal keeper was changed with out notifing the two referees i noticed that error and i brought it to there attention. As soon as the opp. Goal keeper touched the ball the ref marked a foul and was made to a penalty kick. The supporters from the other team started yelling saying it was a false call out and some of the parents including the coach came into the feild after the we scored the penalty. They argued for minutes and the opponent team were coming in and out of the field disrespecting the refs. A couple of minutes later I came in and asked if we can stop the non sense and begin the game or have the ref make his last decision. At this point it was 10 minutes lost from the game, we tide the game with that penalty. Was I right about notifing Ref? Did the Ref do the right call? Should I asked to have a rematch or do I win that Game?

Answer provided by Referee Gary Voshol

The former opinion from USSF was that if the ref starts the second half, he has tacitly approved the goalkeeper change even if he was not specifically told of the change. Did either team make any other substitutions at the half? And was the ref informed of these substitutions? I thought not.

Note I said former. USSF says the only interpretation that now counts is what is found in the Laws of the Game.

The Laws say that if the goalkeeper is changed without informing the ref, both players are cautioned. But, it is NOT a penalty kick. Play is allowed to continue and the players are cautioned at the next stoppage. The same applies to players who are substituted without the ref's permission, although the ref may stop play if the unauthorized sub becomes involved in play.

At most youth and amateur games where the number of substitutes is not limited, it is common practice for substitutions to be made at halftime. The ref is seldom informed, even though the Law says he should be. As long as the correct number of players are on the field, the ref should not need to take any further action.

Read other questions answered by Referee Gary Voshol

View Referee Gary Voshol profile

Answer provided by Referee MrRef

Hi Elizabeth,
It is possible if this was a high school match there might be a different outcome but given the substitution was done at a stoppage and the referee decided to restart the second half thus giving permission for the players on the field to be there in an unlimited substitution match I would not think it was necessary to do anything.

That said IF there WAS to be any action taken it certainly is NOT a PK. The awarding of a PK is a protestable situation as it is contrary to the LOTG . There is NO need to stop play. At the next stoppage those guilty of the exchange could be shown the yellow card under the LOTG for the miscommunication.

The issue with the new rewrite is it states one CAN stop play if the unauthorized player participates. I take this more to mean players being there illegally not by design. The referee has recognized the need for a keeper by restarting the 2nd half as a necessary player on the field even if the keeper's team has inadvertently forgot to tell the referee. A harsh caution of likely an unthoughtful miscue should be all that is required. No INDFK or drop ball or DFK just play on until there is a stoppage and IF necessary show the yellow cards.
from our pitch to your pitch in the spirit of fair play!

Read other questions answered by Referee MrRef

View Referee MrRef profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

The detail here is scant. Was the referees notified at half time because if so they should gave dealt with it there and then. Do not let it become a problem for the game. If it is unlimited substitutions then can be tacit permission to make changes at half time.
Now in respect of the FIFA laws it could NOT be a penalty kick as the referee is instructed to play until the next stoppage and caution the players for unsporting behaviour. The furore then does not arise as the restart is the reason the ball is out of play.
You mention that there were two referees. One could assume that it is a game played under NFHS rules as dual refereeing in not permitted in FIFA. Under that code both players receive a warning at the next stoppage. Again NO penalty kick. Should it have been brought to the referees attention? Well yes as there can be an advantage such as not using up a substitution or the changed player were already cautioned under their old numbers and players can get dismissed.
Now if the game is protested the referees here have made an error in both codes. So it is up to the competition organisers to make the decision. I would suspect that as the penalty decision influenced the game that the game could easily be replayed.
What it does show is that an incorrect decision can cause rancour, ill feeling and delay a game for 10 minutes. There is a story in there as well as no game should be stopped that long.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 30812
Read other Q & A regarding Law 3 - Number of Players

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members.