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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 14: The treatment of injuries

PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer looks at the treatment of injuries in Play of the Week 14.

On serious injuries, Law 5 states: “Play is stopped if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured.”

On slight injuries, it states: “Play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the opinion of the referee, only slightly injured.”

Rejer said: “The referee’s main duty is the safety of the players. Our referees have been instructed to be aware of the potential for concussions and stop the game immediately to allow any players with head injuries to receive medical attention.

“In the 77th minute of the game between between Toronto FC and San Jose Earthquakes, referee Fotis Bazakos is aware that Brandon Barklage and Daniel Lovitz have had an accidental clash of heads and he stops the game immediately and calls on the trainers.


“At that moment in time the players’ welfare is Fotis’ main priority and the state of play at that time is of no concern. Following injury assessment, Barklage had to leave the field to comply with law, but was allowed to re-enter when the match restarted. Unfortunately, Lovitz had to leave the game.

“In the 64th minute of the DC United vs. Columbus Crew game, Agustin Vianna was stunned after a challenge for the ball and did not go to ground immediately. Due to this, referee Hilario Grajeda initially allowed play to continue.

“However, when it appeared that Vianna was seriously injured, as he was lying on the ground, Grajeda stopped play and called on the trainers. Again, the state of play is of no consideration to the referee as his number one responsibility is the player’s safety.


“It is frustrating for DC that they were on the attack and in possession of the ball but, with potential concussion, time can be of vital importance. To comply with refereeing law, Vianna had to leave the field before being allowed to re-enter when the match restarted.

“The third play is from the game between New England Revolution and New York Red Bulls when, following a clash between Red Bull’s goalkeeper Luis Robles and New England’s Diego Fagundez, both players go to ground injured.

“Referee Geoff Gamble immediately called for the trainers to attend to the injured players. Following treatment, Robles remained on the field and Fagundez left, but was called back on by referee Gamble, when play was restarted. This was incorrect in Law as it refers to the second bullet point in the exceptions below.


“Why did all the players have to leave the field of play in those matches with the exception of Luis Robles?

“Law 5 states that injured players can be assessed on the field but have to leave the field following the assessment. It clearly says that players are not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play.

“The only exceptions, apart from severe injury (e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg) when the player would eventually leave the field anyway (from Law 5), are when;

– A goalkeeper is injured

– A goalkeeper and an outfielder have collided and need immediate attention

– Players from the same team have collided and need immediate attention

“The International Football Association Board – the lawmakers – introduced the final exception as it was felt that it was unfair if one team were down to nine players for that period of time.

“Goalkeepers are also an exception as it is a specialist role. It would be unfair and too much disruption to the game if the ‘keeper is changed by an outfield player for that period of time.

“Therefore, as the goalkeeper is allowed to receive treatment and does not have to leave the field, it is fair and makes sense for the outfield player to also receive the same consideration during that time.

“That means Diego Fagundez did not have to leave the field of play in the New England Revolution vs. New York Red Bulls game, but players and referees are so conditioned to outfield players leaving the field that the procedure was adhered to without question.

“Due to the MLS break, we will continue with Play of the Week using plays from the FIFA World Cup in Brazil.”

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