FIFA LAWS OF THE GAME

FIFA Laws of the Game

 

The Laws of the Game of soccer that follow are a condensation of the FIFA Laws of the Game.  They will provide the coach with general information on the laws.  The complete text of the Laws of the Game can be found on the web at www.fifa.com. Coaches are reminded that while the Laws of the Game will provide the basics of the game, USSF certified referees receive extensive instruction on the guidance that USSF provides on interpreting and administering the Laws of the Game.  This information is not generally available to coaches and fans of soccer.  Please keep this in mind when questioning the referee of your match.  Questions regarding the interpretation of a law can be addressed to the Referee Coordinator who is a United States Soccer Federation certified Instructor Referee.

Law 1

The Field of Play.  The layout of the field of play shall conform to FIFA Law with the exception of small sided games, which may have unique markings appropriate to the small sided game.

Law 2

The Ball.  The Ball shall have a circumference of 27"‑28", weight of 14oz.‑16oz and pressure 8.5 to 15.6 lbs.  It shall be constructed of approved materials and not be dangerous to players.

Law 3

Number of Players.  Each team consists of eleven players, one of whom must be the goalkeeper.  Any player may change places with the goalkeeper provided that the Referee is notified before the change and that the change occurs during a stoppage of play.  When substituting, the Referee shall be informed that a substitution is proposed before it is made.  The substitute shall not enter the field until the player being replaced leaves the field and only then after receiving a signal from the Referee.  The substitute shall enter the field at the half-way line.

Law 4

Players Equipment.  Mandatory equipment consists of a shirt, shorts, socks, shin guards and shoes.  The Goalkeeper must wear colors, which distinguish him/her from the other players and the referees.  A player may not wear jewelry or anything that is considered, by the referee, to be dangerous himself/herself or to other players.  For an infringement of this law, the player shall be sent from the field to fix the equipment.  If thermal shorts are worn, they must be of the same color as the shorts.”  If player shorts are multi-colored, the undergarment must match the dominant color. 

Law 5

Referees.  One referee is appointed for each match.  He is responsible for control of the game and his decisions are final.  His authority commences as soon as he arrives at the field of play.  He shall keep a record of the game and act as time keeper and allow the full or agreed upon time, adding thereto for all time lost through accident or other cause.  He has the authority to stop the game for infringements of the Laws and suspend or terminate the game whenever he deems such stoppage necessary. The referee must send from the field of play, any player who is bleeding, until the bleeding is stopped.  The player may then return to the field after receiving a signal from the referee. 

Law 6

Assistant Referee.  Two Assistant Referees (linesmen) assist the referee by calling fouls that occur outside the view of the referee and indicating offside, when the ball is out of play, and which team is entitled to a goal kick, corner kick or throw in.  The Assistant Referees also indicates when a substitution is desired.  Club Linesmen (non-certified referees i.e. parents or siblings) only indicate the ball out of play and the direction of the throw in.

Law 7

Duration of the Game.  The game shall be two equal periods.  Time shall be extended at the half or end of the game for the taking of a penalty kick.  The referee shall add time to each period to account for time lost during the period.

Law 8

The Start of Play.  A flip of a coin decides which team will kick off.  The team which wins the toss picks the side of the field which it will attack.  The opposing team takes the place kick to start the match. The decision made by the team winning the toss is no longer between which end of the field to defend or taking the kick off.  Now, the decision is only which end of the field to attack: the other team performs the kick off.

Each team must be in its own half of the field and the defending players must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked.  The ball shall not be considered in-play until it has been kicked and has moved forward into the opponents half of the field.

The Kicker may not play the ball a second time until it has been touched or played by another player. 

After a goal, the team scored upon will kick off.  At the half time interval, the teams change ends and the kickoff will be taken by the opposite team to that which started the game.  A goal may be scored directly from a kick off (with the exception of “D” 1 Division and “E” Division)

Law 9

Ball In and Out of Play.  The ball is out of play when (a) it has wholly crossed the goal line or touchline, whether on the ground or in the air, or (b) when the game has been stopped by the referee.  (LMVSC Note:  Some soccer goals are dual use goals which are also used for football.  If the ball strikes the part of the goal above the 8' horizontal bar, which is part of the soccer goal, the ball is out of play.)  The ball is in play if it rebounds from the Referee or Linesman when they are in the field of play.

Law 10

Method of Scoring.  A goal is scored when the whole of the ball has passed over the goal line, between the goal posts and under the cross bar and was not propelled by the hand or arm of an attacking player.

Law 11

Offside.  A player is offside if he is nearer his opponents goal line than the ball at the moment the ball is played by a teammate unless, (a) he is in his own half of the field of play, (b) there are two of his opponents equal with or nearer to their own goal line than he is, (c) the ball was last played by an opponent or (d) he receives the ball direct from a goal kick, a corner kick, a throw in, or when it was dropped by the referee.  A player shall only be called offside if, in the opinion of the referee, at the time the ball was played by a teammate, he was involved in play by interfering with play, interfering with an opponent, or seeking to gain an advantage.

The player in an offside position shall not be called offside merely because he is in an offside position or if he receives the ball direct from a goal kick, corner kick, a throw in, or when it has been dropped by the Referee.

Law 12

Fouls and Misconduct.

Fouls.  A player who commits any of the following six offenses in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or involving disproportionate force: (1) kicks, (2) trips, (3) jumps at, (4) charges, (5) strikes, (6) pushes an opponent, or commits any of the following four offenses: (1) when tackling an opponent makes contact with the opponent before contact is made with the ball, (2) holds , (3) spits at an opponent, or (4) intentionally handles the ball shall be penalized by a direct free kick. 

Any one of these ten offenses committed in the penalty area by a defender will result in a penalty kick to the opposing team. 

A player committing less flagrant violations such as dangerous play; charging fairly but away from the ball; obstruction; charging the goalkeeper except when he is holding the ball, obstructing or outside the goal area; the goalkeeper taking more than 6 seconds to release the ball into play, the goalkeeper handling the ball a second time without it being touched by another player, goalkeeper handling the ball after receiving it from a throw in from a teammate, goalkeeper handling the ball after receiving it from a deliberate kick from a teammate, or indulging in time wasting tactics will be penalized by an indirect free kick. 

The restriction on the goalkeeper handling the ball on a throw-in does not apply if the throw in is performed by an opponent of the goalkeeper, nor does it apply if the goalkeeper does not handle the ball, but plays it with his/her feet.

Misconduct.  A player who commits one of the following violations shall be cautioned and shown a Yellow card: (1) Dissent, (2) Unsporting behavior, (3) Persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game, (4) failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted, (5) delaying the restart of play, (6) entering or reentering the field of play without the referee's permission, and (7) leaving the field of play without the referee's permission. 

A player who commits one of the following violations shall be ejected and shown a Red card:  (1) Violent Conduct, (2) Serious Foul play, (3) using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures, (4) spits at an opponent or any other person, (5) denies the opposing team a goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (except the goalkeeper in his/her own penalty area, (6) denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick, and (7) receives a second caution.  Coaches may also be Cautioned and Ejected however the referee is not required to show a Red or Yellow card because these are provided to show a coach and spectators what is occurring with a player on the field during normal play.

(LMVSC Note:  Referees are advised to temper their requirement to eject a player for (5) and (6) above in "B" division and below due to the player's lack of knowledge and experience.)

If a defender deliberately kicks the ball back to his own goalkeeper, the goalkeeper is not permitted to touch it with his hands.  If the goalkeeper does touch the ball with his hands, an indirect free kick shall be awarded to the attacking team at the spot of the infraction unless it was inside the goal area, in which case the kick shall be taken at the nearest spot on the line parallel to the goal line which defines the goal area (six yard line).

If players of the defending team attempt to circumvent the intention of the above paragraph by trickery, the offending player shall be cautioned and the opposing team shall be awarded an indirect free kick as above.

Law 13

Free Kicks.  Are classified into two categories.  "Direct" (from which a goal can be scored directly against the offending team) and "Indirect" (from which a goal cannot be scored unless the ball has been touched by a player other than the kicker before entering the goal).  For all free kicks the offending team must be at least 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked.  If a free kick is awarded to the defending team within their penalty area, the opposing team must be outside the penalty area and ten yards away, which ever is greater.  The ball is considered in-play when it leaves the penalty area.  A team cannot score on themselves directly on a free kick.   The kicker may not play the ball a second time until it has been played or touched by another player. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.

Law 14

Penalty Kick.  A kick taken at the penalty mark.  All players except the player taking the kick and the goalkeeper must stay outside the penalty area and the penalty arc (which ensures that all players are at least 10 yards away from the ball) and behind the Penalty Mark.  The ball must be kicked forward and the kicker may not play the ball a second time until it has been played or touched by another player.  The keeper must be on the goal line between the goal posts, facing the kicker, until the kick has been taken.  The keeper may move laterally on the goal line, but may not move forward.  The ball is in play when it has been kicked and moves forward.

Players who enter the penalty area before the ball has been kicked need not be cautioned unless they persist in infringement on rekicks..

Law 15

Throw In.  When the ball has wholly crossed the touchline it is put back into play by a throw in from the spot where it went out and by a player from the opposite team that last touched it.  A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw in.   The thrower may not play the ball a second time until it has been played or touched by another player.

The opponents of the thrower must be at least 2 yards from the thrower.  A player may be Cautioned and shown a Yellow Card for being closer than 2 yards to their opponent performing a throw-in.

Law 16

Goal Kick.  When the ball has wholly crossed the goal line and a goal is not awarded, either in the air or on the ground, having last been played by a player from the attacking team, it is put back into play by a kick taken from anywhere within the goal area by the defending team.  The ball must wholly leave the penalty area before it is in play. 

The attacking players must remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.  The defending players may be inside the penalty area at the taking of the goal kick but, other than the kicker, may not touch the ball until it is in play.  If the ball does not leave the penalty area when kicked, the kick must be retaken from any position in the goal area.   The kicker may not play the ball a second time until it has been played or touched by another player.  A goal may be scored against the opposing team from a goal kick.

Law 17

Corner Kick.  When the ball has wholly crossed the goal line and a goal is not awarded, either in the air or on the ground, after being last touched by a player from the defending team, it is put back into play by a kick from the corner on the side the ball went out by the attacking team.  The ball must be inside the corner arc.  A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick.  The kicker may not play the ball a second time until it has been played or touched by another player.