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.


The Referee:
- enforces the Laws of the Game
- controls the match in co-operation 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 terminates the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws
- stops, suspends or terminates 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 offence has been committed will benefit from such an advantage and penalises the original offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time
- punishes the more serious offence when a player commits more than one offence at the same time
- takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offences. 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 assistant referees regarding incidents which he has not seen
- ensures that no unauthorised persons enter the field of play
- restarts 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 which occurred before, during or after the match


The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final.
The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play.


Decision 1
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 which 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.

This 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 condition of the fixtures or equipment used during a match including the goalposts, crossbar, flagposts and the ball
- a decision to stop or not to stop a match due to spectator interference or any problem in the spectator area
- 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 request or insist that an injured player 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 (in so far as this may be his responsibility) 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 which he may take in accordance with the Laws of the Game or in conformity with his duties under the terms of FIFA, confederation, national association or league rules or regulations under which the match is played

Decision 2
In tournaments or competitions where a fourth official is appointed, his role and duties must be in accordance with the guidelines approved by the International F.A. Board.

Decision 3
Facts connected with play shall include whether a goal is scored or not and the result of the match.


The technical area described in Law 3, International FA Board Decision No 2, relates particularly to matches played in stadia with a designated seated area for technical staff and substitutes.

It is recognised that technical areas may vary between stadia, for example in size or location, and the following notes are issued for general guidance.
The technical area extends 1m on either side of the designated seated area and extends forward up to a distance of 1m from the touch line
- It is recommended that markings are used to define this area
- The number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules
- The occupants of the technical area are identified before the beginning of the match in accordance with the competition rules
- Only one person at a time is authorised to convey tactical instructions and he must return to his position immediately after giving these instructions
- The coach and other officials must remain within the confines of the technical area except in special circumstances, for example, a physiotherapist or doctor entering the field of play, with the referee's permission, to assess an injured player
- The coach and other occupants of the technical area must behave in a responsible manner