Play of the Week 31: Re-entering the field of play, in SEA v VAN

In Play of the Week 31, PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer looks at a pivotal play in the Seattle Sounders versus Vancouver Whitecaps game.

In the play, Whitecaps striker Kekuta Manneh leaves the field of play at 43.59 to receive treatment, before re-entering the field at 44.18 to score the winning goal.

Below, Rejer has stated the specifics in the Laws of the Game that apply to this particular situation.

The referee must adhere to the following procedure when dealing with injured players:

– After questioning the injured player, the referee may authorize one or. at most, two doctors to enter the field of play to assess the injury and arrange the players safe and swift removal from the field of play

– The referee must ensure an injured player is safely removed from the field of play

– A player is not allowed to receive treatment on the field of play

– As soon as the referee has authorized the doctors to enter the field of play the player must leave the field of play, either on a stretcher or on foot. If a player does not comply, he must be cautioned for unsporting behavior

– An injured player can only return to the field of play after the match has restarted

– When the ball is in play, an injured player must re-enter the field of play from the touch line. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines

– Irrespective of whether the ball is in play or not, only the referee is authorized to allow an injured player to re-enter the field of play

– The referee may give permission for an injured player to return to the field of play if an assistant referee or the fourth official verifies that the player is ready

Rejer said: “All of the above criteria were adhered to in this play. Referees should be very careful when they allow the injured player to re-enter.

“I recall in one game I refereed at Queen Park Rangers when I was too hasty in allowing treated player Danny Dichio to re-enter the field with the play quite close to the technical area and he intercepted the ball and had a free run at goal with only the opposing keeper to beat. I was praying that he didn’t score and when he hit the ball over the bar I breathed I sigh of relief.

“But, in this case, referee Jair Marrufo sensibly allowed the player to return when it seemed safe – the ball was being played into his opponent’s penalty area. The fact that the ball was then played in the vicinity of Manneh some 10 seconds after he had been called on by Marrufo and he went on a fantastic run and score a great goal is not the referee’s fault. Great play is great play and this is exactly what this was.

“Unfortunately for the goalscorer, he had to leave the game at half time due to the injury but he can feel pleased with his contribution to Vancouver’s playoff aspirations, by scoring the only goal of the game with a wonderful solo effort.

“His re-entering the field cannot be connected with the goal in any way; Marrufo did his job correctly and Manneh certainly did his.”