An athletic conference recently asked the NCAA about possibly suspending play to allow players to hydrate during soccer matches played in unusually hot conditions. The response from Cliff McCrath, Executive Director of NISOA and Secretary-Rules Editor of the NCAA Soccer Rules Committee follows:
It is permissible ~ and within the jurisdiction of the referee ~ to suspend the game temporarily for what he/she deems necessary. Indeed, a similar question was asked by an Ohio official this morning the answer to which follows:
Game officials can stop the match at anytime for whatever reason they deem appropriate. Although the rules book does not address, nor include this issue as a specific option for suspending play, there are plenty of precedents for stoppages that can be used for hydrating all participants. An example of one protocol is to inform, in advance, both coaches and/or administration ~ entering a game where extreme and potentially dangerous situations may occur ~ that there will be a TV timeout at the 23 minute mark. Others: The referee may (permissible) call timeout ~ as appropriate ~ for any situations already addressed in the rules: Examples are: Jewelry; equipment change; injured player(s); suspicion of concussion; check on variable substitution matters; consult with Assistant Referees, etc. We all know that even without heat index factors many players head for the bench area to get a quick squirt while an injured player is being attended during temporary suspension of play. As long as the cause is not inordinately contrived or frivolous there is no sustainable argument prohibiting such action. Final note: The item will be on the agenda for the annual meeting in February.
I hope this helps.
C. Cliff McCrath, Secretary-Rules Editor