1 The Field of Play: (Dimensions of the field of play, its markings, and structures etc.) 2 The Ball: (Qualities and measurements of the ball.) 3 The Number of Players: (Rules defining the number of players and substitutes allowed and the substitute procedure, along with infringements and sanctions.) 4 The Players’ Equipment: (Basic equipment list, infringements and sanctions, and the safety aspects). 5 The Referee: (Authority, powers and duties of a Referee.) 6 The Assistant Referees: (Duties) 7 The Duration of the Match: (Periods of play, half-time, allowance for time lost, extended time and abandoned matches.) 8 The Start And Restart of Play: (Coin tossing ceremony, kick-off and dropped ball procedures.) 9 The Ball In and Out of Play: (Defines when the ball is in and out of play.) 10 The Method of Scoring: (Goal scored, wining team, Competition Rules to provide a winner by; Away Goals, Extra time or Kicks from the penalty mark.) 11 Offside: (The offside position, and involvement in active play, plus infringements and sanctions.) 12 Fouls and Misconduct: (Direct Free Kick, Penalty Kick, Indirect Free Kick and disciplinary sanctions -cautionable and sending-off offences.) 13 Free Kicks: Types of Free Kicks, direct and indirect, positioning, plus infringements and sanctions. ) 14 The Penalty Kick: (Referee’s’ role, position of the ball and players, plus infringements and sanctions.) 15 The Throw-In: (Procedure and definitions plus infringements and sanctions.) 16 The Goal Kick: (Procedure and definitions plus infringements and sanctions.) 17 The Corner Kick: (Procedure and definitions plus infringements and sanctions.) Kicks from the Penalty Mark (Procedure)
Offside Position It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position. A player is in an offside position if:
he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent.
A player is not in an offside position if he is in his own half of the field of play or He is level with the second last opponent or he is level with the last two opponents.
A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:
interfering with play or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position. The definitions of elements of involvement in active play are as follows:
Interfering with play means playing or touching the ball passed or touched by a team-mate.
Interfering with an opponent means preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or movements or making a gesture or movement which, in the opinion of the referee, deceives or distracts an opponent.
Gaining an advantage by being in that position means playing a ball that rebounds to him off a post or the crossbar having been in an offside position or playing a ball that rebounds to him off an opponent having been in an offside position.
Just being fit and knowing the Laws of the Game is not sufficient any more. Referees must be capable of reading the game, to know in advance how a match will be played,”Pierluigi Collina Rome Feb 2007.
Instructions for Referees and Resolutions Affecting Team Coaches and Players
Decisions made during play depend entirely on the opinion of the referee, who makes a decision at the time of the incident. Coaches should inform their players of the points specified below and to ensure that every game is played sportingly.
1. Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct
Soccer is a tough, combative sport. The contest to gain possession of the ball should nonetheless be fair and sporting. Any actions meeting these criteria, even when vigorous, must be allowed by the referee.
Serious Foul Play and Violent Conduct are, however, strictly forbidden and the referee must react to them by stringently applying the Laws of the Game.
These two offences can be defined as follows:
(a) It is serious foul play when a player uses excessive force, formerly defined as “disproportionate and unnecessary strength,” when challenging for the ball on the field against an opponent. There can be no serious foul play against a team-mate, the referee, an assistant referee, a spectator, etc.
(b) It is violent conduct when a player is guilty of aggression (excessive force or deliberate violence) towards an opponent when they are not competing for the ball. It is also violent conduct if the excessive force is used when the ball is not in play, if it is committed by a substitute or substituted player, or if it is directed at anyone other than an opponent (e. g., team-mate, referee, assistant referee, coach, spectator, etc.). If the violent conduct is committed by a player against an opponent on the field during play, the restart is a direct free kick for the opposing team where the foul occurred (or a penalty kick if it was committed by a player inside the player’s penalty area). If the violent conduct is by a player during play against anyone on the field other than an opponent, the restart is an indirect free kick where the misconduct occurred. If the violent conduct is committed during a stoppage of play, the restart is not changed. A dropped ball where the ball was when play is stopped is the correct restart if the violent conduct is committed during play and off the field. If the violent conduct is committed by a substitute or substituted player on the field of play, the correct restart is an indirect free kick.
A tackle as such is not an infringement of the Laws of the Game. It becomes an infringement only if the tackler plays carelessly, recklessly, or with excessive force, or places the opponent in danger.
(a) A sliding tackle from the front or side, made with one or both legs, is permissible if, in the opinion of the referee, it is not dangerous. If, however, the player making the tackle trips the opponent before, during, or after making contact with the ball, the referee shall award a direct free kick to the opposing team. The referee must judge whether an illegal trip occurred or whether the opponent fell over the leg of the player making a legal tackle.
(b) Tackling with the foot lifted from the ground may be dangerous, whether contact is made with the ball or not. Lifting of the foot should be penalised if the referee considers the player is endangering an opponent by so doing. If the player deliberately plays over the ball and makes contact with the opponent’s leg, this is serious foul play and must be sanctioned with a send-off (red card) and a direct free kick (or a penalty kick, if appropriate).
(c) Tackling with two feet together, studs up, if uncontrolled and from a distance, could be judged as at least reckless and possibly dangerous to the opponent. If controlled and from a short distance, there may be no danger.
(d) A tackle, regardless of direction, which endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play. The player must be sent from the field (red card) and play restarted with a direct free kick (or a penalty kick if committed by a player inside the player’s team’s own penalty area).
3. Charging from behind
Charging from behind is permissible only if the opponent is intentionally impeding while shielding the ball. The charge, however, must be made fairly and under no circumstances to the back (spinal area).
4. Reckless challenges
Referees should take stringent measures against players moving their arms and elbows without due care, by applying the sanctions available to them under Law 12.
5. Offences’ against goalkeepers
It is an offence if a player:
(a) jumps at a goalkeeper under the pretext of heading the ball;
(b) moves or jumps about near a goalkeeper in order to distract or interfere with or prevent the goalkeeper from releasing the ball;
(c) who is standing in front of a goalkeeper when a corner kick is being taken, takes advantage of the position to impede the goalkeeper before the kick is taken and before the ball is in play;
(d) makes any play for the ball while the goalkeeper is still controlling it with the hands. Kicking or attempting to kick the ball held by the goalkeeper is considered to be dangerous play.
6. Impeding the progress of an opponent
A player who has the ball under control within playing distance (i.e., the distance at which the player is covering the ball for tactical reasons in order to avoid its being played by an opponent, without using the arms) is not guilty of impeding the progress of the opponent.
Any player who intentionally impedes the progress of an opponent by crossing directly in front of or running between the opponent and the ball or intervening so as to form an obstacle with the aim of delaying the opponent’s advance, must be sanctioned with an indirect free kick in favour of the opposing team.
However, any player who intentionally impedes the progress of an opponent by physical contact, whether using the hand, arm, leg, or any other part of the body, shall be penalized for holding by the award of a direct free kick to the opposing team, or by a penalty kick, if the offence was committed within the player’s team’s penalty area.
7. Scissors or bicycle kick
Such a kick is permissible, provided that in the opinion of the referee it is not dangerous to an opponent.
8. Jumping at an opponent
A player who jumps at an opponent under the pretext of heading the ball shall be penalized by the award of a direct free kick to the opposing team.
9. Prohibited use of body
A player who holds off an opponent using the hand, arm, leg, or body (except through a legal charge) is guilty of an infringement of Law 12 and shall be punished by the award of a direct free kick to the opposing team. Holding or hindering when the ball is out of play in order to prevent the opponent from running into position is misconduct and shall be penalized by a caution for unsporting behaviour.
10. Caution for handling the ball or holding an opponent
A caution for unsporting behaviour is appropriate if a player:
(a) holds an opponent to interfere with attacking play (e.g., prevents the opponent from getting to the ball or pulls an opponent away from possession of the ball),
(b) handles the ball to interfere with attacking play, or
(c) handles the ball in an attempt to score a goal.
(Note: if handling the ball or holding the opponent prevents a goal or interferes with a goal scoring opportunity, the offender must be shown the red card and sent off the field.)
11. Free kicks
A player who delays the restart of play or fails to respect the required distance when play is being restarted must be cautioned.
12. Use of advantage
If the referee applies the advantage and the advantage which was anticipated does not develop after a short time, i.e., 2-3 seconds, and the ball remains in play, the referee should immediately stop the game and penalize the original offence.
13. Denying a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity
(a) If, in the opinion of the referee, a player who is moving towards the opponent’s goal, with an obvious opportunity to score a goal, is denied that goal scoring opportunity by an offence punishable by a free kick or penalty kick, the offending player shall be shown the red card and sent off the field of play.
(b) If, in the opinion of the referee, a player, other than the goalkeeper within the goalkeeper’s own penalty area, deliberately handles the ball to prevent it from entering the goal and thus denies the opposing side a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity, the player shall be shown the red card and sent off the field of play. There need not be an opponent nearby with an opportunity to play the ball.
14. Penalty kick
(a) Positioning of ball and players during a penalty kick
During a penalty kick, the goalkeeper shall stand on the goal line. Apart from the goalkeeper and the player taking the kick, all the players shall take up a position on the field of play behind the penalty mark and outside the penalty area at least 10 yards (9.15 m) from the penalty mark and stay there until the ball is in play (kicked and moved forward).
(b) Penalty kick at the end of a half or at the end of the match
If play is prolonged before half-time or at the end of the match to allow for a penalty kick to be taken or for one to be retaken, a goal shall be allowed if, before going into the goal, the ball touches any combination of the goalposts, crossbar, goalkeeper, or ground (providing no other infringement has been committed).
(c) Unless the ball has entered the goal (in which case the kick is retaken), infringements of Law 14 by the kicking team must be punished with an indirect free kick from the place where the infringement occurred.
15. Player in offside position
(a) It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.
(b) A player shall be penalized for being offside if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of that player’s team-mates, the player is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in the active play by
1. interfering with play or with an opponent, or
2. gaining an advantage by being in that position.
(c) A player shall not be penalized for offside by the referee
1. merely because the player is in an offside position, or
2. if the player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, a corner kick, or a throw-in.
An assistant referee must not signal merely because a player is in an offside position. Furthermore, if an assistant referee is in any doubt as to whether a player is offside (active position) or not, the referee should decide in favour of the attacker; in other words, refrain from signalling offside.
16. Goalkeeper restrictions
An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside the goalkeeper’s own penalty area,
• takes more than six seconds from the moment of establishing control with the hands until the ball is released into play
• touches the ball again with the hands after it has been released from the goalkeeper’s possession and has not touched any other player outside the penalty area or has touched only a team-mate inside the penalty area
• touches the ball with the hands after it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate
• touches the ball with the hands after receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate
17. Persistent infringements
Any player who repeatedly infringes the Laws of the Game by committing multiple fouls or by participating in a pattern of fouls directed at an opponent shall be cautioned and shown the yellow card.
When a substitution is to take place, the substitute shall report to the fourth official (or assistant referee) and surrender the substitution card (if applicable), properly completed, at the halfway line. A player who is going to be replaced may not leave the field of play without the referee’s permission and then only when the ball is out of play. The substitute may then enter the field at the halfway line after receiving a signal to do so from the referee.
The substitute must be fully ready to play before reporting to the appropriate official. Referees should not delay the timely restart of play to allow substitutes to correct their equipment or uniforms before entering the field nor shall the referee prevent a team from restarting play if the substitute has not reported to the appropriate official prior to play being stopped. There is no requirement that the player leaving the field must do so at the halfway line.
19. Injury of a player
If a player is bleeding, that player must leave the field immediately to have the bleeding stopped and the skin and uniform cleaned as thoroughly as possible. When the player is ready to return to the game, the player’s injuries and the uniform must be inspected by an official. This can be the referee or, if delegated by the referee in the pregame conference, the fourth official or, if there is no fourth official, an assistant referee. Only then will the referee give permission for the player to re-enter the game; the game need not be stopped in this situation.
Only the referee may permit the return to the field of play of a player who was instructed to leave the field for treatment of an injury. This is not a substitution. The player who left the field for treatment of an injury may return during play with the permission of the referee, but only from the touch line. If the ball is out of play, the player may return with the permission of the referee across any boundary line.
Up to two team officials are permitted to enter the field of play with the referee’s permission solely for the purpose of assessing an injury—-not to treat it—and to arrange for the player’s removal.
The referee must exercise care before allowing removal of a seriously injured player from the field.
In all cases where an injury was the sole reason for the stoppage of play, the injured player is required to leave the field and cannot be permitted to return until the referee gives permission after play has restarted
20. Attitude towards referees
Any player who protests at an official’s decision may be cautioned. Any player who assaults or insults an official shall be sent off. The captain of a team, although responsible for the team’s behaviour, has no special rights.
A throw-in may not be taken from a distance of more than one yard (one meter) outside the touch line. Players who stand in front of the thrower in such a way as to harass the thrower or to interfere with the throw-in must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour and shown the yellow card. Opponents must remain at least two meters/yards from the point where the throw-in is taken. If they do not, they must be cautioned and shown the yellow card for failing to respect the required distance.
22. Delaying the restart of play
Any player who delays the restart by wasting time shall be cautioned. The following actions are examples of this behaviour:
– takes a free kick from a wrong position with the sole intention of forcing the referee to demand a retake;
– appears to prepare for a throw-in but suddenly leaves it to a team-mate to perform the throw-in;
– performs any restart in such a way that the ball is not properly put into play, thus forcing a repetition of the restart;
– kicks the ball away or carries it away with the hands after the referee has stopped play for any reason;
– stands in front of the ball when a free kick has been awarded to the opposing team in order to give the team time to organize the defensive wall;
– excessively delays taking any restart;
– delays leaving the field when being substituted;
– provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play
23. Celebration of goal
(a) After a goal has been scored, the player who has scored it is allowed to share the joy with team-mates. However, the referee must not allow them to spend an excessive amount of time in their opponents’ half of the field. Neither shall the referee allow players to taunt their opponents. In any of these cases, the referee will caution the offending player for unsporting behaviour. Referees must look beyond the behaviour of players celebrating goals and consider as misconduct only those actions which are provocative, obscene or insulting, or which unnecessarily delay the restart of play.
(b) If a player removes the shirt to celebrate a goal, the player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour and shown the yellow card.
A player must be cautioned when he or she:
• in the opinion of the referee, makes gestures which are provocative, derisory or inflammatory
• climbs on to a perimeter fence to celebrate a goal being scored
• removes the shirt over the head or covers his/her head with the shirt
Leaving the field to celebrate a goal is not a caution able offence in itself but it is essential that players return to the field as soon as possible.
Referees are expected to act in a preventive mode and to exercise common sense in dealing with the celebration of a goal.
24. Liquid refreshments during the match
Players shall be entitled to take liquid refreshments during a stoppage in the match but only on the touchline. Players may not leave the field during play to take liquids. It is forbidden to throw plastic water bags or any other water containers onto or from the field.
25. Players’ equipment
(a) The referee shall ensure that each player wears the uniform properly and check that anything worn by the player conforms with the requirements of Law 4. Players shall be made aware that their jersey remains tucked inside their shorts and that their socks remain pulled up. The referee shall also make sure that each player is wearing shinguards and that none of them is wearing potentially dangerous objects (such as watches or other jewellery of any nature).
(b) Players are permitted to wear visible undergarments such as thermopants. They must, however, be the same colour as the shorts of the team of the player wearing them and not extend beyond the top of the knee. If a team wears multicoloured shorts, the undergarment must be the same colour as the predominant colour.
(c) The referee, assisted as needed by the assistant referees, shall ensure that player equipment and uniforms comply with Law 4 and will pay particular attention to any items (e.g., braces) worn by a player which are not included in the standard uniform.
d) All items of jewellery are considered potentially dangerous. Jewellery may not be worn. Taping jewellery is not adequate protection. Rings, earrings, leather or rubber bands are not necessary to play and the only thing they can bring about is injury.
26. The Role of the Fourth Official
The Fourth Official will assist the referee at all times. The fourth official must indicate to the referee if the wrong player is cautioned or when a player who has been given a second caution is not sent off 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.
27. Trickery (cf. Law 12 IFAB Decision 3)
A player using a deliberate trick to circumvent the text and spirit of Law 12 regarding deliberate passes to the goalkeeper shall be cautioned for unsporting behaviour and shown a yellow card.
28. Technical area
Team officials may convey tactical instructions to players during the game. However, team officials must remain within the confines of the technical area while doing so and must conduct themselves, at all times, in a responsible manner. Only one person at a time may be standing in the technical area, giving instructions to the team.
The technical area may be defined as an area covering the length of the substitutes’ bench plus one yard on either side and extending from the front of the bench up to a distance of one yard (one meter) away from the touchline. It is recommended that markings be used to define this area, but the absence of such markings does not relieve team officials from the obligation to behave responsibly. The referee may sketch out a technical area if one is not marked and if, in the opinion of the referee, this is needed to assist in the control of sideline behaviour.
29. Simulation (Law 12, IFAB Decision 5)
Any simulating action anywhere on the field, which is intended to deceive the referee, must be sanctioned as unsporting behaviour.
A number of specific actions may be considered cautionable as unsporting behaviour. These include faking an injury or exaggerating the seriousness of an injury and faking a foul (diving) or exaggerating the severity of a foul.
30. Misconduct by substitutes or substituted players
(a) Referees must caution and show the yellow card for unsporting behaviour, dissent, or delay of restarts by substitutes or substituted players.
(b) Substitutes or substituted players who are sent off and shown the red card must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area. If their offence involved the use of violence or excessive force, the referee must report the reason as violent conduct.
31. Dealing with injured players
Referees must follow the instructions below when dealing with injured players:
• play is allowed to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in the referee’s opinion, only slightly injured
• play is stopped if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured
• after questioning the injured player, the referee authorizes one, or at most two doctors, to enter the field to ascertain the type of injury and to arrange the player’s safe and swift removal from the field
• the stretcher-bearers should enter the field with a stretcher at the same time as the doctors to allow the player to be removed as soon as possible
• the referee ensures an injured player is safely removed from the field of play
• a player is not allowed to be treated on the field
• any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field of play. The player may not return until the referee is satisfied that the bleeding has stopped. A player cannot wear clothing with blood on it
• as soon as the referee has authorized the doctors to enter the field, the player must leave the field, either on the stretcher or on foot. A player who does not comply is cautioned for unsporting behaviour
• an injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted
• an injured player may only re-enter the field from the touch line when the ball is in play. When the ball is out of play, the injured player may re-enter from any of the boundary lines
• the referee alone is authorized to allow an injured player to re-enter the field whether the ball is in play or not
• if play has not otherwise been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of a breach of the Laws of the Game, the referee restarts play with a dropped ball
• the referee allows for the full amount of time lost through injury to be played at the end of each period
A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card for committing any of the following seven offences
(mandatory cautions are shown in bold print):
1. is guilty of unsporting behaviour (UB)
(The following actions are examples only and are not a complete list.)
a. Commits a direct free kick foul in a reckless manner (for example, charging, pushing, tripping)
b. Commits a direct free kick foul in a reckless manner while tackling for the ball from any direction
c. Commits a tactical foul designed to interfere with or impede an opposing team’s attacking play (e.g., pushing an opponent, blatantly holding an opponent or an opponent’s uniform, handling the ball deliberately)
d. Handles the ball deliberately to score a goal
e. Commits an act which, in the opinion of the referee, shows a lack of respect for the game (e.g., aggressive attitude, inflammatory behaviour, or taunting)
f. Fakes an injury or exaggerates the seriousness of an injury
g. Fakes a foul (dives) or exaggerates the severity of a foul
h. Interferes with or prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands into play
i. Verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart
j. Unfairly distracts or impedes an opponent performing a throw-in
k. Changes jerseys with the goalkeeper during play or without the referee’s permission (both players must be cautioned)
l. Engages in trickery to circumvent the goalkeeper’s limitation on handling the ball played from a
team-mate’s foot (the defender who initiates the “trickery” is cautioned, the decision does not require that the goalkeeper actually handles the ball, and the misconduct can occur during dynamic play or at a restart)
m. Makes unauthorized marks on the field.
n. Removes the jersey after scoring a goal
2. shows dissent by word or action (DT)
a. Verbally or through action disputes or shows contempt for an official’s decision
b. If playing as a goalkeeper, leaves the penalty area (not beckoned by the referee) to engage an official in debate regarding a decision
3. persistently infringes the Laws of the Game (PI)
a. Repeatedly fouls or participates in a pattern of fouls directed at an opponent
b. Violates Law 14 again, having previously been warned
c. If playing as goalkeeper, wastes time, having previously been warned or penalized for this behaviour
4. delays the restart of play (DR)
a. Kicks or throws the ball away or holds the ball to prevent a free kick restart by an opponent
b. Kicks or throws the ball away or holds the ball to prevent a throw-in or corner kick by an opponent
c. Fails to restart play after being instructed to do so by the referee or hinders the restart of play
d. Excessively celebrates a goal
e. Fails to return to the field upon conclusion of the half time break, fails to perform a kick-off when signalled to do so by the referee, or fails to be in a correct position for a kick-off
5. Fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick (FRD)
a. Does not retire at least ten yards away from an opponent’s free kick
b. Does not retire at least ten yards away from an opponent’s corner kick
6. enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee’s permission (E)
a. Having previously been substituted (unless the rules of competition allow such return)
b. After having previously been instructed to leave the field to correct equipment
c. After having previously been given permission by the referee to leave the field due to an injury
d. After having previously been instructed to leave the field due to bleeding or blood on the uniform
e. As a substitute, without having received a signal to do so by the referee
7. deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission (L)
a. To place an opponent in an apparent offside position
b. Other than through the normal course of play
The actions listed above assist in defining the scope of the basis for a caution and can provide a useful guide in identifying the specific behaviour which the Laws of the Game consider unacceptable. It is critical, however, for Referees to distinguish between those relatively few actions for which a caution is mandated by the Laws of the Game and the remaining actions for which a caution is discretionary.
A player is sent off and shown the red card for committing any of the following seven offences:
1. is guilty of serious foul play (SFP)
2. is guilty of violent conduct (VC)
3. spits at an opponent or any other person (S)
4. denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling
the ball (this does not apply to the goalkeeper within his or her own penalty area) (DGH)
5. denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by
an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick (DGF)
6. uses offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures (AL)
7. receives a second caution in the same match (2CT)
Obligation of Referees.
A player who commits a cautionable or sending-off offence, ether on or off the field of play , whether directed towards an opponent, a team – mate, the referee, an assistant referee or any other person must be reported. The referee must submit a report to the appropriate authorities on the incident ; the player must be shown the red/yellow card. A player who is sent off or cautioned after a match must be shown the red / yellow card. You must say this on your report. The secretary or manager of the club must be informed of the incident.
The referee or assistant or fourth official must provide the appropriate authorities with a match report, which includes information on any disciplinary action against players, and / or team officials and any other incidents that occurred before, during or after the match.