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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Five players who refused to be substituted - but did they break the rules?

Chelsea keeper Kepa Arrizabalaga sparked outrage as he refused to come off in the final minutes of Sunday's Carabao Cup final in a stunning act of defiance against manager Maurizio Sarri.

The Basque goalkeeper - who couldn't prevent Chelsea losing the penalty shoot out - said afterwards it was just a misunderstanding between him and Sarri.


He's now been fined a week's wages by Chelsea and admitted he "made a big mistake with how I handled the situation".

Five players who refused to be substituted - but did they break the rules?

But while the actions of the world's most expensive goalkeeper shocked those watching, they were not unprecedented.

Here are five other players who defied their manager when their number went up - and also an answer to the question: Did Kepa break the rules?

Lukasz Fabianski - Swansea

The most clear comparison came in 2017 when Swans keeper Lukasz Fabianski was hurt late in their match against Tottenham, colliding with Vincent Janssen in the 81st minute.

As a stretcher was readied, manager Paul Clement told reserve Kristoffer Nordfeldt to get ready. Fabianski insisted he was fine and play resumed, but the goalkeeper continued to hold his rib, even as he made a fine save to deny Dele Alli. Clement made the decision to replace Fabianski and his number went up in the 86th minute, but Fabianski refused.

After continued remonstrations, Clement turned to the fourth official to cancel the change, and Jon Moss - the man in charge of Sunday's Carabao Cup final - waved play on. It was not the end of the story, however, as Fabianski let in three goals in the final minutes of an extraordinary match, turning a 1-0 lead into a 3-1 defeat.

Carlos Tevez - Manchester City

Roberto Mancini accused Carlos Tevez of refusing to come on as a substitute for Manchester City in their Champions League match against Bayern Munich in September 2011.

Tevez denied ignoring his manager's instructions, blaming the incident on a misunderstanding. Nevertheless, it would be the start of a lengthy stand-off between the pair which saw Tevez banished from the club for five months and received a hefty fine before returning to play a dramatic role in them securing the Premier League title.

Lionel Messi - Barcelona

Arguably the finest footballer of his generation, Messi and his teammates know how important he is to Barcelona, so it is no surprise he wants to stay on the pitch at all times.

On the other hand, ensuring he is permanently in peak condition is also necessary, so back in a 2014 home fixture against Eibar, then Barcelona boss Luis Enrique wanted to give his star 15 minutes rest when three goals to the good against the Basque side.

Messi, however, had other plans, giving his manager a thumbs up to say he would continue, even though his replacement, Munir, was stripped and ready to take his place. There is no arguing with Messi, with a slightly frustrated Enrique instead withdrawing Neymar in the end. Luis Enrique said after the match: "I have to take everything into account, but I trust in how he feels and what he tells me."

Nikola Kalinic - Croatia

Croatia striker Nikola Kalinic was sent home from last summer's World Cup in disgrace after Zlatko Dalic said he had refused to come on as a substitute in their group match against Nigeria.

Dalic said Kalinic had claimed he was not fit to play, but that was not good enough for the manager, who pointed to a string of similar incidents in the past. The 31-year-old, capped 41 times, has not played for his country since.

Les Sealey - Manchester United

Kepa is not the first goalkeeper to refuse to leave the pitch during a League Cup final, but Les Sealey's actions in the 1991 Rumbelow's Cup Final earned praise, not scorn.

The Manchester United goalkeeper suffered a badly gashed knee with 12 minutes remaining, but knowing there was no reserve keeper on the bench, he refused to have an outfield player replace him in goal and limped through the remainder of the match.

He conceded no further goals, though John Sheridan's 37th-minute strike was already enough for Sheffield Wednesday to lift the cup with a 1-0 victory.

Were any rules broken by Kepa?

Kepa's on-pitch decision left his manager outraged at Wembley and was quickly widely condemned by the football fraternity on social media.

Yet under ‘Substitution Procedure’ of Law 3, the Chelsea keeper broke no rules by staying on the field.

The laws of the game state: "If a player who is to be replaced refuses to leave, play continues."

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