Monday, March 21, 2011

Starting Again

The horrible Winter we experienced in the Northeast appears to be over.  Time for soccer!
I have had a bit of a slow start to the season.  I was not invited to a tournament that I have done several times this year.  It seems the number of teams attending the tournament is down significantly (20%+).  I wonder, is it the economy?  Are teams forgoing tournaments they deem to be optional?
The good news is I managed to get a single day at the boys version of the same tournament this past weekend.  We had U-16 boys all day.  It was windy and cold, but I got games!  That's always a plus.  I ended up doing 2 in the middle and 4 on the sides.  That first tournament of the year is always tough!  My feet are still sore.
We had a very interesting situation arise that brought up a question about the Laws of the Game.  I was in Assistant Referee in the match.  The ball went out of play for a corner kick with seconds left.  The player taking the kick retrieved  the ball and was running back with it when the Referee whistled for half time.  There is no added time allowed in this tournament.  I turned toward the player and held out my hand waiting for the ball.  He put it on the ground, kicked it away and said "Go get your own ball!"  Obviously, there is no question of misconduct.  He was sent off for foul and abusive language.  
When we started the 2nd half, the referee asked me if the team now plays short.  I told him absolutely, they do.  We played the rest of the game that way.  When talking about the send-off with the tournament assignor, he criticized us for making the team play short.  I politely insisted that was the correct action.  The question is this:  Does this team play short in the 2nd half?
Let's see what the various documents from the federation say.  First, we know this player is to be sent off for foul and abusive language.  ATR tells us, in section 12.29:

A player who commits any of the following actions will also be sent from the
• Uses offensive, insulting, or abusive language (including nonverbal language or actions)
The added emphasis is mine.  It seems the real question is when does this person cease to be a player?  Was he a player after the whistle blew for half time?
Again, referring to the ATR, we find this is section 3.4:
Regardless of other deviations from the correct substitution procedure which the referee may allow, a substitute becomes a player for purposes of determining the consequences of misconduct when the substitute enters the field after being beckoned by the referee. When the substitute has become a player as a consequence of meeting this requirement, the player being replaced ceases to be a player.
That seems pretty clear to me.  A player ceases to be a player after they have been substituted.  In other words, one is still a player at the end of the half. 
It took some time, but I also found this item: is an official USSF site, so this is definitive advice. The team plays short.


Anonymous said...


I completely agree with your view on your described situation. The player who was sent off and shown the red card was at the time a player and not a substitute or substiuted player. Therefore, the team at the beginning of the second half must play down a man for the rest of the match.

Joe T.

Mark L. said...

Good call. A player is a player until substituted. The half-time whistle doesn't change this. The team plays down a man in the 2nd half. Many assignors are former players and/or referees. If they were referees, they should know the LOTG. However, many of them no longer keep up with the changes and guidelines published by FIFA and USSF. Don't let this assignors comments bother you, your team was correct in enforcing the misconduct.

Brian said...

Your experience (games available) is totally different from mine in Colorado. We seem to be chronically short on refs. It could be due to the early season schedule chaos though.

Please check out my blog and let me know what you think. I'll be happy to link to your excellent blog.

BTW, your call is correct.

jayhonk said...

I believe that NFHS is the opposite. At half time everyone becomes a non-player. (I should look it up.)