Law 5 - The Referee
The authority of the referee
Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.
Powers and duties
enforces the Laws of the Game
controls the match in cooperation with the assistant referees and, where applicable, with the fourth official
ensures that any ball used meets the requirements of Law 2
ensures that the players’ equipment meets the requirements of Law 4
acts as timekeeper and keeps a record of the match
stops, suspends or abandons the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws
stops, suspends or abandons the match because of outside interference of any kind
stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured
ensures that any player bleeding from a wound leaves the field of play. The player may only return on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped
allows play to continue when the team against which an offense has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalizes the original offense if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time
punishes the more serious offense when a player commits more than one offense at the same time
takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offenses. He is not obliged to take this action immediately but must do so when the ball next goes out of play
takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may, at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds
acts on the advice of the assistant referees regarding incidents that he has not seen
ensures that no unauthorized persons enter the field of play
indicates the restart of the match after it has been stopped
provides the appropriate authorities with a match report, which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players and/or team officials and any other incidents that occurred before, during or after the match
Decisions of the referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth official, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.
Decisions of the IFAB
A referee (or where applicable, an assistant referee or fourth official) is not held liable for:
any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator
any damage to property of any kind
any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision that he may take under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match
Such decisions may include:
a decision that the condition of the field of play or its surrounds or that the weather conditions are such as to allow or not to allow a match to take place
a decision to abandon a match for whatever reason
a decision as to the suitability of the field equipment and ball used during a match
a decision to stop or not to stop a match due to spectator interference or any problem in spectator areas
a decision to stop or not to stop play to allow an injured player to be removed from the field of play for treatment
a decision to require an injured player to be removed from the field of play for treatment
a decision to allow or not to allow a player to wear certain apparel or equipment
a decision (where he has the authority) to allow or not to allow any persons (including team or stadium officials, security officers, photographers or other media representatives) to be present in the vicinity of the field of play
any other decision that he may take in accordance with the Laws of the Game or in conformity with his duties under the terms of FIFA, confederation, member association or league rules or regulations under which the match is played
In tournaments or competitions where a fourth official is appointed, his role and duties must be in accordance with the guidelines approved by the IFAB, which are contained in this publication.
Interpretations of Law 1
Powers and duties
The referee is authorized to stop play if, in his opinion, the floodlights are inadequate.
If an object thrown by a spectator hits the referee or one of the assistant referees or a player or team official, the referee may allow the match to continue, suspend play or abandon the match depending on the severity of the incident. He must, in all cases, report the incident(s) to the appropriate authorities.
The referee has the power to show yellow or red cards during the half-time interval and after the match has finished as well as during extra time and kicks from the penalty mark, since the match remains under his jurisdiction at these times.
If a referee is temporarily incapacitated for any reason, play may continue under the supervision of the assistant referees until the ball next goes out of play.
If a spectator blows a whistle and the referee considers the whistle interfered with play (e.g. a player picks up the ball with his hands, assuming that play has been stopped), the referee must stop the match and restart the play with a dropped ball from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.
The referee may play advantage whenever an infringement or offence occurs.
The referee should consider the following circumstances in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:
the severity of the offence: if the infringement warrants an expulsion, the referee must stop play and send off the player unless there is a subsequent opportunity to score a goal
the position where the offence was committed: the closer to the opponent’s goal, the more effective it can be
the chances of an immediate, promising attack
the atmosphere of the match
The decision to penalize the original offence must be taken within a few seconds.
If the offence warrants a caution, it must be issued at the next stoppage. However, unless there is a clear advantage, it is recommended that the referee stops play and cautions the player immediately. If the caution is not issued at the next stoppage, it cannot be shown later.
The referee must adhere to the following procedure when dealing with injured players:
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
play is stopped if, in the opinion of the referee, a player is seriously injured
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 player’s safe and swift removal from the field of play
stretcher-bearers should only enter the field of play with a stretcher following a signal from the referee
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
any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. He may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped. A player is not permitted to wear clothing with blood on it
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 may 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
if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee must restart play with a dropped ball from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped
the referee must allow for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period of play
once the referee has decided to issue a card to a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the referee must issue the card before the player leaves the field of play
Exceptions to this ruling are to be made only when:
a goalkeeper is injured
a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need immediate attention
players from the same team have collided and need immediate attention
a severe injury has occurred, e.g. swallowed tongue, concussion, broken leg
More than one offense occurring at the same time
Offences committed by two players from the same team:
the referee must punish the most serious offence when players commit more than one offence at the same time
play must be restarted according to the most serious offence committed
Offences committed by players from different teams:
the referee must stop play and restart it with a dropped ball from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped