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Laws of the Game


3. Powers and duties

The referee:

  • enforces the Laws of the Game

  • controls the match in cooperation with the other match officials

  • acts as timekeeper, keeps a record of the match and provides the appropriate authorities with a match report, including information on disciplinary action and any other incidents that occurred before, during or after the match

  • supervises and/or indicates the restart of play


  • allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage, and penalises the offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds


Disciplinary action

  • punishes the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time

  • takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offences

  • has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match ends (including kicks from the penalty mark). If, before entering the field of play at the start of the match, a player commits a sending-off offence, the referee has the authority to prevent the player taking part in the match (see Law 3.6); the referee will report any other misconduct

  • has the power to show yellow or red cards and, where competition rules permit, temporarily dismiss a player, from entering the field of play at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during the half-time interval, extra time and kicks from the penalty mark

  • takes action against team officials who fail to act in a responsible manner and warns or shows a yellow card for a caution or a red card for a sending-off from the field of play and its immediate surrounds, including the technical area; if the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach present in the technical area will receive the sanction. A medical team official who commits a sending-off offence may remain if the team has no other medical person available, and act if a player needs medical attention

  • acts on the advice of other match officials regarding incidents that the referee has not seen


  • allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is only slightly injured

  • stops play if a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play. An injured player may not be treated on the field of play and may only re-enter after play has restarted; if the ball is in play, re-entry must be from the touchline but if the ball is out of play, it may be from any boundary line. Exceptions to the requirement to leave the field of play are only when:

  • a goalkeeper is injured

  • a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need attention

  • players from the same team have collided and need attention

  • a severe injury has occurred

  • a player is injured as the result of a physical offence for which the opponent is cautioned or sent off (e.g. reckless or serious foul challenge), if the assessment/treatment is completed quickly

  • a penalty kick has been awarded and the injured player will be the kicker

  • ensures that any player bleeding leaves the field of play. The player may only re-enter on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped and there is no blood on the equipment

  • if the referee has authorised the doctors and/or stretcher bearers to enter the field of play the player must leave on a stretcher or on foot. A player who does not comply must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour

  • if the referee has decided to caution or send off a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the card must be shown before the player leaves

  • if play has not been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of an offence, play is restarted with a dropped bal

Outside interference

  • stops, suspends or abandons the match for any offences or because of outside interference e.g. if:

  • the floodlights are inadequate

  • an object thrown by a spectator hits a match official, a player or team official, the referee may allow the match to continue, or stop, suspend or abandon it depending on the severity of the incident

  • a spectator blows a whistle which interferes with play - play is stopped and restarted with a dropped ball