Can A Soccer Player Refuse To Be Substituted?

During intense soccer games, the players on the field might be extremely invested in the game to the point that they may get angry if their coach decides to substitute them with another player from the bench.

Some players might even refuse to be substituted entirely. But are the players really allowed to refuse to be substituted during a soccer game?

In soccer, any of the players on the field can refuse to be substituted without facing any consequences from the referee or the laws of the game. However, soccer players who refuse to get substituted usually face punishments from their club for refusing to cooperate with their coach.

It’s very rare that a soccer player refuses to get substituted during a game. However, it can still happen. 

I have been enjoying watching soccer for more than 10 years, and I have seen some players being extremely angry because they got substituted, and I have seen other players completely refusing to get substituted.

What happens if a soccer player refuses to get substituted?

The referee is not allowed to interfere to decide whether a soccer player gets substituted or not. The decision of substitution is up to the coach of the team and to the players themselves.

In other words, if a player refuses to get substituted during the game, then the referee just resumes the game and the player who refused the substitution remains on the field. 

This is part of the 3rd law of the game which states that during a substitution, the game continues if the player to be substituted refuses the substitution.

Why would a soccer player refuse to get substituted?

The following 2 reasons are the most common reasons of why a soccer player would refuse substitution:

1- The player believes that they can still play even after a small injury.

Injury is one of the main causes of early substitutions in soccer. Usually, you don’t see a lot of players being substituted until there is less than 30 minutes of the game remaining. You can learn more about the duration of a soccer match in this article.

There are some players who have refused to get substituted after getting a little bit injured because they believed that they could still play the rest of the game.

Usually, these players give a sign to their coach that they do not want to be substituted at all even if their coach has already made up their mind to get them off the field.

In general, a player who asks their coach to not get substituted due to injury does not face consequences unless they completely insist on staying even if their coach wants them out no matter what.

2- The player believes that they have more to offer for their team till the game ends

A soccer player may decide to defy their manager (aka coach) by staying on the field because they still want to play and deliver good results even if their manager wants them out of the game.

It is rare to see professional soccer players completely refusing to get substituted, but it’s less rare to see players getting angry after they get substituted.

What are the consequences for the players who refuse to get substituted

It makes sense that the players who defy their managers get punished. Here are some of the consequences that the soccer players who refuse to get substituted face.

1- They get a yellow card for wasting time

As mentioned before, a referee does not have the authority to decide whether a player stays on the field or not, however, the referee has the right to card the soccer player who refuses to leave the field if the player wastes a lot of time.

Also, the referee can give a yellow card to the player if they act in a very offensive way on the field after their manager decides to substitute them.

It’s worth noting that some referees decide to not give the player a yellow card and instead they either go talk to the coach of the team and ask them to reverse their substitution decision, or just continue the game immediately.

2- They face financial consequences.

If a player refuses a decision made by their coach, then their club might punish them financially by cutting their wage for a period of time or by making them pay a fine as a punishment.

The soccer club can also use other forms of punishment like banning the player from playing for a certain number of games and so on.

However, the club can also decide not to punish the player at all. So in simple words, it is up to the club to decide how they punish the players that refuse substitution.

3- They negatively affect their relationship with their coach.

Usually, the coach has the ultimate power to decide which players should participate in the club’s games.

With that said, if a player chooses to fight their coach’s decisions, then the coach might decide to not give this player more chances on the field.

So in other words, if a player decides not to get substituted, they might ruin their relationship with their coach who might decide to hurt the player’s career by letting them play less often.

With that said, I will end the article here. Here’s a quick summary of what you have just read


Soccer players can refuse to be substituted and the referee does not have a say on whether a soccer player should be substituted or not.

If a player decides to not get substituted, then the referee will request that the game be continued normally and the player stays on the field.

The players who refuse substitution might be punished by their club after the match ends.