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: 32247

Mechanics 2/19/2018

RE: Pro Professional

Ali Asger of Pune, MAHARASHTRA India asks...

So I was refereeing a cup final in my city yesterday. 21 out of the 22 players were on the field and ready for kickoff while only the Blue goalkeeper was taking his own sweet time to get on to the field for no justifiable reason. This delayed the kickoff by about 3 minutes..

What is the correct course of action here? Can I caution the goalie when he finally stepped on the field even though the game hasn't kicked off yet.. Also the Red team had the kick off- Could I have simply blown the whistle and allowed the kick off without the Blue goalie being on the field as I had already given repeated calls for the teams to take up their positions..

Please advise.

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Ali ,

The new LOTG seemed to contradict my long held assumptions so I & my colleagues are currently researching and using back channels to find out if this is a new version or a mistake. Judging from the responses we received the decisive point is the referee entering the field, not the kick-off.

A match can not begin until each team has at minimum of 7 players one of whom is the keeper.
Based on my current understanding of the LOTG you are STILL entitled to show a yellow card and caution the keeper for delaying the match or USB or dissent depending on what you said and what he did or did not do. One would think it unwise to engage in pediatric behaviour while on the FOP because although a match can not start without a keeper on the FOP, where you could start with a player off, telling him he can rejoin with permission when he is able. I would go over to see this keeper or go to the team tech area and enquire , DO WE HAVE A PROBLEM? Perhaps the keeper is ill or had a cases of the runs or lost his gloves and is trying his best to get ready. If that is NOT the case, warn him lets go, if he hems and haws engaging in behaviour that DEMANDS a caution then show the yellow card warn again that unless he assumes his rightful position he is in danger of not playing at all! As the match is not yet started , as a player if you were to caution him twice or a direct red if say he mouthed off with OFFINANBUS and thus a send off. The team are not yet playing short and can offer a new keeper to take the FOP out of those available to be substitutes.

WE can approach the teams and provide every means possible for them to be aware of when the match starts and to inform them via a serious of whistles and commands when they are to take the field. Includes warnings of time limits, offering them a heads up as to how much time is left. I would take offence to any team, player coach or manager who thought it necessary to discount my efforts to get the match underway in a reasonable manner.

I do not suggest that if the opposing team has a kick off since they can score directly off a kick off and the other teams' keeper is being obtuse to give the go ahead as soon as the keeper steps into the FOP. It might seem appropriate and complies with the LOTG that the keeper is NOW a legal player on the FOP but if 30 yards or more from goal , as a neutral official you cannot allow your irritation at the tardiness conflict with your integrity to not interfere. Wait till the keeper is in his position and then start. If he fails to take his position by delaying or acting inappropriately then caution as that IS within your scope of influence.

PS This was the information we wrestled with
If you look at law 5 The Referee law 5, ,
The LOTG now state

has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play
for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match
ends (including kicks from the penalty mark). If, before entering the field of
play at the start of the match, a player commits a sending-off offence, the
referee has the authority to prevent the player taking part in the match
(see Law 3.6); the referee will report any other misconduct

Q3: Why can a referee send off (RC) but not caution (YC) a player before kick-off?

Red card offences are serious an players who commit such offences should not play in the match but it would become complicated if a caution (YC) could be given pre-match as people would not know that a player has a caution (YC) when the match starts. It is better that these offences are reported.

Now the ABOVE information had us confused that the KICK OFF was the deciding point . However the ACTUAL LOTG go onto say

Law 5 The Referee
''has the power to show yellow or red cards [...] from entering the field of play at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during the half-time interval, extra time and kicks from the penalty mark''

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Ali
A game cannot commence without a goalkeeper on both teams so the game could not start. Also we have to allow the goalkeeper to take his position as fair play dictates that he is in place for the game to kick off. During play it is of no concern to the referee as long as he is on the field of play and in his own half before a kick off. If any player leaves the FOP without permission the player can be cautioned.
In your example as play has not yet kicked off with the start of the game although the players are on the field it is possible to caution a player. However off the field of play in the changing room or tunnel a caution is not possible and all that can be done is that the player is reported as misconduct and the team is reported for a late start. A player can be sent off before the start of play off the field of play but misconduct can only be reported with no yellow card shown off the FOP and sorrounds.
Leagues issue fines in such situations which can be hefty at the higher levels of the game.
Personally I would try to manage it without the use of cards as the GK is in an unusual position. If it was an outfield player the game can start so a caution is not required. I hope that helps

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Ali,
You cannot start the game without each team having a goalkeeper so that option is out.

However you can caution the player. Law 5 says that a referee:

''has the power to show yellow or red cards [...] from entering the field of play at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during the half-time interval, extra time and kicks from the penalty mark''

Now, I should point out that is in slight contradiction to the language in the Q&A on the IFAB website, which says a player cannot be cautioned before kick-off and this did cause some confusion (and no little debate) between the panel members before we checked with the IFAB and got an official response that the wording of the law, in effect outweighs that of the Q&A.

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32247
Read other Q & A regarding Mechanics

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.