I understand that the fourth official is there to come on if the main referee gets injured, but what happens if even the substitute is injured . Is the match forfeited ?

Also, has there been any similar scenario in a real match?

  • What do the regulations for the competition say? In all likelihood (one of) the (senior) assistant(s) will take over and the sideline will be either empty or covered by another official where possible or a volunteer where not.
    – Nij
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:02
  • @Nij , I reckon my question assumes a pretty far fetched scenario, however i want to know if absolutely no replacement for a referee is available, Do they stop the match there and continue from the same point some other day or totally forfeit or something else?
    – Satya
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:12
  • You're asking about a match with a fourth official. This isn't farfetched, it's outright not ever going to happen, that no kind of replacement is available.
    – Nij
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:41
  • Whoever is around and willing, if you go down enough to a certain level that is. :D
    – Don_Biglia
    Commented Sep 25, 2017 at 7:46
  • 1
    For an example, in a recent Australia vs Brazil women's international friendly, the appointed referee was injured on the way to the match. A local, suitably qualified referee who was there simply to watch the game took on the referee role instead - she had to borrow football boots from a player, and a whistle and cards from the assistant referees (hence why she was running around the field with white boots instead of black). Commented Sep 26, 2017 at 22:45

1 Answer 1


For what it's worth, your first sentence is not necessarily true. Law 6 states:

Competition rules must state clearly who replaces a match official who is unable to start or continue and any associated changes. In particular, it must be clear whether, if the referee is unable to start or continue, the fourth official or the senior assistant referee or senior additional assistant referee takes over.

i.e. it's not necessarily the fourth official who replaces the referee if they become injured. That paragraph pretty much indicates the answer to your question as well: it's covered by the competition rules. You follow whatever procedures are listed in the competition rules, and after that it becomes a "do the best you can, report what happened to the organising body for the competition and let them sort it out" - as happens with any other situation which isn't covered by the rules.

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