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What is entering or re-entering the field of play without permission in soccer?

Soccer Entering Or Re-Entering The Field Of Play Without Permission

The intensity and the pace of a soccer game can cause players to get injured during a match or to be substituted, which forces the referee to interrupt the play. However, especially when trailing in the last minutes of the game, players often enter or re-enter the field without permission, which represents one of the worst offenses in terms of delaying the game.


Classified as cautionable offenses in the Laws of the Game published by The International Football Association Board (IFAB), entering and re-entering the field without permission are common penalties that result in yellow cards.

While extremely avoidable, this type of misconduct could be the result of the team’s intention to either waste time if they are winning or rush to restart play in the case of a goal disadvantage. Entering the field without permission refers to the violation of the rules that occurs when a player enters the field before the player that is subbed off exits the field. Conversely, re-entering the field without permission does not involve substitutions. This penalty happens when an injured player re-enters the field before receiving approval from the referee. In circumstances when medical attention is needed from the team’s staff, the player is required to step off the field and wait until the play is stopped to re-enter the field.

Entering or re-entering the field without permission impacts the game’s flow and causes an increase in stoppage time. Anytime these penalties occur, the referee has to stop play and caution the player with a yellow card.


Entering or re-entering the field without permission results in two main consequences: a yellow card for the offending player and a free kick for the opposing team. The free kick will be direct from the spot of the interference, or indirect from the position of the last play in the case of no interference. Both of these sanctions represent an avoidable turnover for the team receiving the penalty. These violations of the Laws of the Game are often the result of the lack of concentration on a player’s part and could be detrimental to the entire team in cases of a yellow card or a free kick in a dangerous position.

Referee Signal

A yellow card is given in any case of entering or re-entering the field without permission. The referee will signal this by holding the card up in the air in front of the player who is receiving it, often pointing or gesturing toward them. Next, the referee has to assign the opposing team a free kick, which could be direct or indirect, based on the interference from the offending player. To signal an indirect free kick, the referee will hold one arm straight up in the air with their palm open until the ball is kicked. For a direct free kick, they will point their arm outward at shoulder height in the direction of the kick.


  • A substitute is assessed a yellow card after entering the field of play before the player that has been subbed off has left the field.
  • Following an injury, a player is booked for re-entering the field without first receiving approval from the referee or the linemen.