Laws of the Game
for Officials, Referees, Players, and Fans
The Fourth Official
- The fourth official may be
appointed under the
competition rules and
officiates if any of the three
match officials is unable to
- Prior to the start of the
competition, the organiser
states clearly whether, if the
referee is unable to continue,
the fourth official takes over
as the match referee or
whether the senior assistant referee takes over as referee with the
fourth official becoming an assistant referee.
- The fourth official assists with any administrative duties before,
during and after the match, as required by the referee.
- He is responsible for assisting with substitution procedures during
- He supervises the replacement footballs, where required. If the
match ball has to be replaced during a match, he provides
another ball, on the instruction of the referee, thus keeping the
delay to a minimum.
- He has the authority to check the equipment of substitutes before
they enter the field of play. If their equipment does not comply
with the Laws of the Game, he informs the referee.
- The Fourth Official assists the referee at all times. He must indicate to the referee when the wrong player is cautioned because of mistaken identity or when a player is not sent off having been seen to be given a second caution or when violent conduct occurs out of the view of the referee and assistant referees. The referee, however, retains the authority to decide on all points connected with play.
- After the match, the fourth official must submit a report to the
appropriate authorities on any misconduct or other incident which
has occurred out of the view of the referee and the assistant
referees. The fourth official must advise the referee and his
assistants of any report being made.
- He has the authority to inform the referee of irresponsible behaviour by any occupant of the technical area.