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2011 Referee Week in Review - Week 23



Referee Week in Review – Week 23

The Situation: Columbus is leading Philadelphia 2-1 in the 58th minute.

The Play: An injured Columbus player receives treatment and then leaves the field of play as required. Before receiving permission to re-enter from the referee, he steps on the field and joins the game.

The Decision: The referee waits for a stoppage of play and then issues a caution.

My Take:  The laws of the game are clear that after receiving treatment on the field, a player must leave the field and then receive permission from the referee in order to re-enter. When a player illegally re-enters, the referee may stop play immediately to issue or caution or allow play to continue if the opposing team has the advantage. In this case, the referee gives the opposing team the opportunity to attack, and then stops play at the first available moment and correctly shows a caution.

The Laws of the Game: The interpretations of Law 3 discuss the procedure for a player to re-enter the field of play and how to properly handle an illegal re-entry.


The Situation: The match between New England and Houston has just ended in a 1-1 draw.

The Play: After the whistle is blown to indicate the end of the match, a New England player shielding the ball is pushed from behind by a player from Houston. A mass confrontation develops, and the referee crew enters the area to defuse the situation. The goalkeeper from New England maintains a sustained protest with the referees before eventually leaving the field.

The Decision: As the players leave the field of play and enter the locker room, the crew discusses the incident and determines the appropriate sanctions, which in this case result in a caution for the Houston player for unsporting behavior and a sending off for the New England goalkeeper for using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures. Since the players are no longer present, the referee informs the coaches for both teams who have remained on the field.

My Take: In that moment, the primary concern of our referee crew was to defuse the situation. Even though the game had ended, the actions of the players are still governed by the referee and can result in a sanction. While showing cards is a means of communication, it is not required that they be shown to complete a sanction. The most important thing was to ensure that the correct disciplinary decisions were made, which required time and discussion amongst the referee crew.  Once the decisions were finalized, we reported the sanctions to the teams and the competition authorities.

The Laws of the Game: Law 5 describes in detail the powers and duties of the referee, and the interpretations of the law specifically indicate that the referee may issue sanctions after the game has ended since the match remains under their jurisdiction.


Michael Kennedy is a current MLS referee and has officiated in the league since its founding in 1996. In addition to serving as a professional referee, he has also represented U.S. Soccer as both a FIFA referee and assistant referee.

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