Managing Injuries in Competitive Situations: The Laws of the Game

Rules and Regulations


The rules cited in the following sections are direct quotations from the 2014–2015 edition of the Laws of the Game.


2.2.1 Law 1—The Field of Play


Field Surface



“Matches may be played on natural or artificial surfaces, according to the rules of the competition.”


“Where artificial surfaces are used in […] competition matches […], the surface must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf or the International Artificial Turf Standard, unless special dispensation is given by FIFA.”


Safety


“Goals must be anchored securely to the ground. Portable goals may only be used if they satisfy this requirement.”


Note that the referee will check the pitch and goals before the match. The goals must be constructed in such a way that players cannot injure themselves as a result of the goals being badly constructed or insufficiently anchored in the ground.


Commercial Advertising


“Advertising on the ground shall be at least 1 m (1 yd) from the boundary lines of the field of play.”


There are also rules determining how close photographers behind the goal may be. The aim here is to prevent injuries if a player unintentionally ends up off the pitch.


2.2.2 Law 2—The Ball


Law 2 governs the dimensions and weight of the ball. Here, the emphasis is on the fact that no part of the ball should be a danger to the players.


2.2.3 Law 4—The Players’ Equipment


Safety


“A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery [sic]).”


Basic Equipment


The basic compulsory equipment for players comprises several items—including some that are for the players’ protection, such as shin guards and footwear.


Nowadays, the use of shin guards is obligatory in all football matches. Law 4 states that shin guards should be “covered entirely by the stockings, should be “made of rubber, plastic or a similar suitable material,” and should “provide a reasonable degree of protection.”


The referee should check players’ boots and other equipment before the match. The rules no longer determine what size the studs on boots should be and it is the referee who has the final say on whether someone can play ( ▶ Fig. 2.1a and ▶ Fig. 2.1b). The referee will base his decision on whether the player’s studs pose a “danger to him or any other player.”



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Fig. 2.1 (a, b) The referee should check players’ boots and other equipment before the match.


“In the event of any infringement of this Law […] the player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment. Any player required to leave the field of play to correct his equipment must not re-enter without the referee’s permission. The referee checks that the player’s equipment is correct before allowing him to re-enter the field of play. The player is only allowed to re-enter the field of play when the ball is out of play.


A player who has been required to leave the field of play because of an infringement of this Law and who re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission must be cautioned.”


2.2.4 Interpretation of Law 4 and Guidelines for Referees


Other Equipment


“A player may use equipment other than the basic equipment provided that its sole purpose is to protect him physically and it poses no danger to him or any other player.



All items of clothing or equipment other than the basic equipment must be inspected by the referee and determined not to be dangerous.



Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.



Where head covers are worn, they must




  • be black or of the same main colour as the jersey (provided that the players



  • of the same team wear the same colour)



  • be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment



  • not be attached to the jersey



  • not pose any danger to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g.



  • opening/closing mechanism around neck)



  • not have any part(s) extending out from the surface (protruding elements)



In view of the new technology that has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the wearer and for other players, referees should show tolerance when authorising their use, particularly for younger players.



If an item of clothing or equipment that has been inspected at the start of a match and determined not to be dangerous becomes dangerous or is used in a dangerous manner during the match, its use must no longer be allowed.



The use of electronic communication systems between players and/or technical staff is not permitted.”


Jewelry


“All items of jewellery [sic] (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are strictly forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewellery [sic] is not acceptable.”


The fundamental rule ensuring the safety of players is that a player may not use equipment or wear anything which is dangerous to himself or another player. A player who wants to use a protective dressing made of plastic or plaster or involves metallic parts or a hard material of some kind must pad the dressing such that it is not dangerous to teammates or opponents. Padding means that the hard parts of the dressing should be covered with foam rubber, elastic bandages, or some other soft material. The referee must approve the dressing before the player can participate.


2.2.5 Law 5—The Referee


Injured Players


“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 authorise 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 authorised 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 behaviour.



  • 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 [sic]. 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 authorised 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.”


This rule addresses the question of the referee’s authority on the pitch. Law 5 clearly states that the referee must stop the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured, and he must then ensure that the player quickly receives medical attention or is taken off the pitch. However, if the referee is of the view that the player is only slightly injured, he is permitted to let play continue.


Furthermore, the guidelines also state that a player should not receive treatment on the field of play unless it is an injury to a goalkeeper or a severe injury like a fractured leg or a concussion. This is an important point for the football doctor to remember ( ▶ Fig. 2.2).



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Fig. 2.2 The referee must stop the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured.

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Jun 9, 2018 | Posted by in SPORT MEDICINE | Comments Off on Managing Injuries in Competitive Situations: The Laws of the Game
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