Soccer Leaving the Field of Play Without Permission

Soccer Leaving the Field of Play Without Permission

To monitor who is actively playing in a game, referees must keep track of who is coming and going on the field. Before a player can leave the soccer field during a game, the referee must first grant permission and wave them off. Failure to obtain permission results in a yellow card.


Definition

Leaving the soccer field may seem like a simple task; however, proper procedures must be followed to keep order in the game. To ensure that every active player is on record when playing, players who are exiting due to injury, misconduct, or fatigue must ensure the referee has given them permission to go. Failure to do so is a cautionable offense, which results in a yellow card. As neutral officials of the game, the referees (and not coaches or team officials) are the only figures of authority allowed to grant this permission.

Leaving the field of play without permission most commonly occurs during player substitutions, when the exiting player leaves before notifying the official. In a proper substitution, the coach notifies the referee first, then the player leaves by the nearest boundary line, and the new player enters the field after obtaining permission.

Exceptions are made for a few specific scenarios or instances easily explained by the circumstance of the play. A player is permitted to retrieve a ball past the boundary lines for a throw-in when necessary. If a player has accidentally crossed a boundary line during play but immediately returns, that player will not receive a penalty for leaving without permission. Likewise, if a player has crossed the line to dodge an opponent temporarily, they will not be penalized for leaving the field without permission. All players are also allowed to leave at halftime with implicit permission.

Result

In professional and highly competitive leagues, a player who leaves the field of play without notifying the referee will receive a caution by the referee and a yellow card. In grassroots, youth, and casual leagues, it is important and proper to notify the referee, but the penalty may not be as strictly enforced. Substitutions (the most common instances of leaving without permission) are more limited and regulated in professional and international leagues, whereas in most youth leagues, unlimited substitutions are allowed.

Referee Signal

soccer referee signal yellow card

When a player has left the field without permission, the referee will blow the whistle and raise the yellow card with one hand to caution the offending player. To identify the offending player, the referee will also point at the player who left the field without permission. This allows spectators, players, coaches, and fellow officials to keep track of who the yellow card was given to.

Examples

  • A fatigued player who knows he is about to be substituted rushes off the field before receiving the referee’s explicit permission.
  • A coach decides to bench a player and pulls them off the field without informing the referee.
  • A player storms off the field after disagreeing with an official’s call.
  • A player leaves the field to talk with someone during a stoppage of play.

Similar Violations to Leaving The Field Of Play Without Permission

  • Entering the Field of Play Without Permission
  • Delaying Restart of a Game
  • Unsporting Behavior
  • Failure to Respect Required Distance

FAQ

What is leaving the field of play without permission in soccer?

Leaving the field of play without permission is an offense in soccer that occurs when an active player has left the field without the referee specifically signaling that they could do so. It is a cautionable offense that results in a yellow card. The purpose of the penalty is to keep order on the field and allow the referee to keep track of who is playing on record. Some instances, such as leaving due to serious injury or overstepping the boundary line momentarily to dodge another player, are exempt from the penalty. 

What are the consequences of being called for leaving the field of play without permission in soccer?

Leaving the field of play without permission is a cautionable offense that results in a yellow card. If a player receives two yellow cards in a game, they can receive a red card and subsequently be sent off.

How do referees give players permission to leave the field of play in soccer?

Permission to leave is most commonly given during substitutions, which happen during a stoppage of play. The coach first notifies the referee, who then waves the retiring player off the field. An official will typically hold up a sign of the leaving player’s number and the substitution player’s number to clarify. Once the referee has given the signal, the player can leave. Sometimes permission to leave the field of play is implicit, such as when a player is severely injured and requires medical care.