Rules of the Game

Walker Recreation Department Youth Soccer Rules

This page on the website goes into greater detail about the specific rules. Click (or tap, if you’re using a touch device) on each section to review its contents.

Equipment Inspections

Before the start of each match, the coaches and officials should line the players up for equipment inspections. Examine each player to make sure of the following:

  • They have shin guards and if they don't have built-in socks, that they are fully-covered with proper soccer socks on the outside.
  • They have no hanging or loose jewelry or watches. Medical alert bracelets are allowed, but medical casts and splints are not allowed. (Exceptions can be made; a doctor's note is required to be filed with the Recreation Department office prior to game day. Call for details.)
  • They are not wearing cleats with screw-in studs. Molded rubber traction studs are permitted. Players may also wear flats (ordinary shoes).
  • They have their team jersey on the outside of all other clothing.

Timekeeping

Timekeeping is fairly easy. A countdown timer is set to sound an alarm at the end of a play period, whereupon two long blasts of the whistle are sounded. Three long whistle blasts are sounded at the end of the final period.

Timekeeping for the Age 4’s

For the Age 4 Group, practices are on game day (10 minutes). Posted game times represent the start time of this practice interval. Officials will be available to answer questions and to assist coaches. After that practice period, there will be one (1) 10-minute period per half with a 3-minute water break between periods on a 13-minute second half running clock. Substitutions are allowed at any time, as described below.

Keeping time for soccer games played by the 5-6 year-old age group.

Timekeeping for Ages 5-6

For the 5-6 Age Group, practices are on game day (20 minutes). Posted game times represent the start time of this practice interval. Officials will be available to answer questions and to assist coaches. After that practice period, there will be one (1) 13-minute period per half with a 4-minute water break between periods on a 17-minute second half running clock. Substitutions are allowed at any time, as described below.

Keeping time for soccer games played by the 5-6 year-old age group.

Timekeeping for Ages 7-8 and 9-10

For the 7-8 and 9-10 Age Groups, there will be one (1) 20-minute period per half with a five (5) minute water break between periods on a 25-minute second half running clock. During the game, substitutions are allowed during certain stoppages per the NCAA substitution rules (see below).

Keeping time for soccer games played by the 7-8 year-old age group.

Timekeeping for Ages 11-13

For the 11-13 Age Group, there will be one (1) 30-minute period per half with a five (5) minute break between periods on a 35-minute second half running clock. During the game, substitutions are allowed during certain stoppages per the NCAA substitution rules (see below).

Keeping time for soccer games played by the 11-13 year-old age group.

Field Positioning

Field Position of the Players

In soccer, there are usually 10 field players plus one (1) goalkeeper for a total of 11 players total. In the recreation program, these numbers vary with the number of sign-ups received and available coaches. When you see, for example, that your age group will play with "9 per side," that means 9 players total: 8 field players plus one (1) goalkeeper. For ages 4-6, there is no goalkeeper.

Positioning Players

Except for the goalkeeper, the best way to position your players on the field might not be so obvious. In general, a coach would divide his available players into three ranks.

  • Defenders (called "full backs")
  • Midfielders (called "half backs")
  • Attackers (called "forwards")

Plain language descriptions can describe a field position in greater detail; for example, if there are four (4) players on the back rank, you might call them:

  • left outside full back
  • left inside full back
  • right inside full back
  • right outside full back

What you call various field positions isn’t very important. Your focus should be on teaching the basics: That full backs play defense, forwards attack the opponent’s goal, and midfielders play everywhere – bolster defense when on your heels and support the forwards when the pressure’s on the opponents.

When to Teach Positions

In the Age 4 age group, do not teach positions. In the 3 vs. 3 game format played at this age, just let the kids skirmish and have fun. Focus on teaching them to move the ball away from their own goal and try to kick it into the opponent’s goal. Teach them not to push other players, and teach them not to touch the ball with their hands — use your feet!

In the 5-6 age group, don't teach field positions at all – at least by name. Simply spread the kids out and let them explore at game time. Putting a few up front and a few in back for the kick off keeps things organized, but once things get started, let kids explore on their own. Simply teach them to spread out a little if they aren't close enough to reach the ball.

In the 7-8 age groups, begin to introduce positions and explain their jobs, starting with the goalkeeper. Teach simply that players that start back have to stay back (on defense), and the rest try to work the ball up the field towards the opponent’s goal.

In the 9-10 age group and older, follow a similar pattern to the 7-8 age group but give more exacting instruction to players on an individual basis as they begin to show that they understand. Patience is important here, because you will have many players in these age groups that don’t understand the terminology or what it means yet. Less experienced players will observe your more established players and emulate them on their own. Allow this process to take place organically and don’t force it by creating unrealistic expectations. Teach slowly and allow kids to explore the game at their own pace, keeping in mind that recreational soccer is simply a community activity for the kids to enjoy.

Field Position of the Officials

In the 4-6 age groups, the field is very small and a single official controls the game. In all other age groups (7-8, 9-10 and 11-13), two officials will work as a team to control the games.

With two referees on the field, the referees should position themselves on opposite sides of the field and on about a 45-degree angle from one another, such that one referee is always closer to a different goal line than the other. Both referees should always be close enough to the play action to spot fouls, especially handling the ball and pushing, and easily see which team kicked the ball out of bounds. Do not allow coaches, teams, or spectators to occupy the space reserved for substitutions.

Start of Play (the Kick-Off)

The kick-off starts the game at the beginning, and restarts the play after a goal is scored.

A team that is awarded a kick-off retains possession of the ball by kicking off to a teammate, which is the opposite of American gridiron football. It is not a penalty to kick off to the opposite team, but it is an immediate loss of possession. Younger and less-experienced players should be taught to kick off to teammates, even if they are behind you.

Beginning Side Selection and Taking Turns

According to the LOTG, the coin toss winner gets field side side selection, while the other team takes the kick-off to start the match. Our rules are different. The two teams normally migrate to one side of the field or the other, so by the time you administer a coin toss, the players are already on the field and in position, ready to go. Therefore, the winner of the coin toss decides whether or not they will take the kick-off or give it to the other team.

As an alternative to the coin toss, it is permissible to let the two players engage in a round of 'Paper-Scissors-Rock' for side selection. This is a good back-up at this level of play for those situations in which a coin is not available.

A kick-off is used to restart play at the beginning of each period and after each goal is scored. The two teams take turns kicking off at for a new time period; that is to say, after each timekeeping period ends, the opposite team restarts play with a kick-off. Remember, if a goal is scored, the team that lost the goal restarts the game with a kick-off, but this does not change the back-and-forth pattern of timekeeping period kick-offs.

For example: If Team 'A' kicks off to start the play in the first time period then scores a goal, Team 'B' takes a kick-off from the middle of the field to restart play because they conceded a goal. When the second timekeeping period starts, Team 'B' gets another kick off; this time, because Team 'A' had the kick-off to begin the previous time period.

Kick-off rules, at a glance.

Procedure

To perform a kick-off, make sure that the team taking the kick is the only team that has players in the center circle. Make sure each team has no greater than the allowed number of players on the field for the age group and season (this number changes from year to year). The officials will start the clock once the kick is taken. Place the ball on the center mark at the center of the field. Make sure that the kicking team does not kick the ball until signaled by a referee by one long whistle blast. To take the kick, the kicker may be on the opponent’s half of the field or on his own half. The ball is in play when it is touched and is moved by the kicker in any direction. The kicker may not touch the ball a second time (or else an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team; a direct free kick if it is the 4-6 age groups).

Restart of Play by Throw-In

Play is restarted with a throw-in any time the ball passes out-of-bounds over a touchline (sideline).

4-6 age groups:

The 4-6 age groups do not restart play by throw-in. A "kick-in" is awarded to the team opposite the team that last touched the ball before it went out-of-bounds. A goal may be scored by such "kick-in."

7-8, 9-10 and 11-13 age groups:

The throw-in is awarded to the team opposite the team that last touched the ball before it went out-of-bounds. A goal may not be scored by a throw-in; a goal kick (thrown into an opponent's goal) or corner kick (thrown into one's own goal) is awarded if the ball passes into the goal on a throw-in.

A throw-in restarts play when the ball passes out of bounds over a touchline.
  • the thrower faces the field of play
  • the thrower has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line nearest the point where the ball passed out-of-bounds
  • the thrower uses both hands
  • the thrower delivers the ball from behind and over his head
  • the thrower does not touch the ball after it is thrown until touched by another player
  • all opponents stand at least 6.5-feet away

Restart of Play by Goal Kick

Play is restarted with a goal kick when an attacking team kicks the ball out-of-bounds at their opponent's goal line (e.g., a missed shot on goal).

4-6 age groups:

The 4-6 age groups does not restart play by goal kick. A "kick-in" is awarded to the team opposite the team that last touched the ball before it went out-of-bounds.

7-8, 9-10 and 11-13 age groups:

The ball is placed in the goal area before the kick is taken. Ensure that the opponents are all out of the penalty area. Signal the kicker to proceed once the field is set by one short whistle blast.

A goal kick restarts play when the ball passes out of bounds over a goal line, not in the goal, and when last touched by an attacking player.
  • the ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by any player of the defending team
  • opponents remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play (that is, until it has passed out of the penalty area)
  • the kicking team may be inside the penalty area, but may not touch the ball until it has passed out of the penalty area and into the field of play
  • the kicker does not kick the ball until signaled by the referee by whistle
  • the kicker does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area
  • opponents may not come into the penalty box until the ball is in play

Restart of Play by Corner Kick

Play is restarted with a corner kick when a defending team kicks the ball out-of-bounds on their own goal line.

4-6 age groups:

The 4-6 age groups does not restart play by corner kick. A "kick-in" is awarded to the team opposite the team that last touched the ball before it went out-of-bounds.

7-8, 9-10 and 11-13 age groups:

Ensure that the ball is placed anywhere within the corner arc and that the corner marker flag is not touched or removed by any player or referee (do not hold the flags for the kickers). Ensure that all opponents are at least 10-yards (30-feet, the same radius of the center circle) from the ball. Signal the kicker to proceed once the field is set by one short whistle blast.

A corner kick restarts play when the ball passes out of bounds over a goal line, not in the goal, and when last touched by a defending player.
  • the ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flag post
  • the corner flag post is not moved
  • opponents remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play
  • the kicker does not kick the ball until signaled by the referee by whistle
  • the ball is kicked by a player of the attacking team
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
  • the kicker does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player

Restart of Play by Drop Ball

Play is restarted with a drop ball any time the play is stopped by the referee for a reason other than a foul, such as: an injury for which a penalty is not warranted (this would result in a free kick, not a drop ball); a dangerous equipment violation (like a loose shinguard or a lost shoe); whenever the ball is touched or interfered with by an outside agent (such as a spectator, a coach, animals or wildlife, etc.). In all cases, the referee has stopped the game by its own discretion and not because of a foul, and needs to restart play in an impartial fashion.

To restart play with a drop ball, simply drop the ball to the ground. The referee drops the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the position where it last touched a player. All other players (of both teams) must remain at least 4 m (4.5 yds) from the ball until it is in play. The ball is in play when it touches the ground. Play restarts when the ball touches the ground, so instruct the players not to touch the ball until it lands.

A drop ball restarts play when the play is stopped for a reason other than to issue a penalty.

Do not perform a drop ball restart within the goal area of the field. A drop ball is taken from that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line, at the point nearest to where the ball was located when the stoppage occurred.

Restart of Play by Free Kick

A free kick is awarded to a team whenever the referee has stopped play for a violation of the LOTG. Free kicks are generally classified as either DIRECT or INDIRECT . The difference has to do with scoring: Goals may not be scored by an INDIRECT FREE KICK , unless the ball first touches another player. If a player scores on an indirect free kick, a goal is not counted and the opposite team is awarded a goal kick as if the ball simply went out-of-bounds. A goal may be scored by a direct free kick.

Note that there are no indirect free kicks in the 4-6 age groups: All free kicks are direct free kicks in the 4-6 age groups.

The ball is placed at the location on the field where the infraction occurred. The direction of the free kick is indicated by the referee by facing the ball and holding out an arm towards the goal that the team taking the kick is attacking. If the kick is a direct free kick, hold your arm out with your hand pointing directly at the goal. If the kick is an indirect free kick, hold your hand up at a 45-degree angle so that it is pointing indirectly towards the goal. Do not lower your hand until the ball has touched another player or goes out of play.

A free kick is issued as a disciplinary action for fouls and misconduct, and to sanction violations of the laws of the game.
  • the free kick is taken from the place where the infringement occurred
  • all opponents are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves
  • an indirect free kick awarded inside the goal area is taken from that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line, at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred

See "Fouls and Misconduct," below, for details about which penalties get direct vs. indirect free kicks.

Substitutions

When Allowed: Substitutes may enter the game under the following conditions:

4-6 age groups:

The 4-6 age groups may substitute players at any time, with or without game stoppage. Players are permitted to enter or leave the field at the coaches or parents discretion; however, players may not enter the field if doing so would cause there to be a greater number of players than allowed.

7-8, 9-10 and 11-13 age groups:
  • On any goal kick
  • On a team's own throw-in
  • On a team's own corner kick
  • On an opponent's throw-in or corner kick, if the opponent also substitutes
  • After a goal has been scored
  • At half time (or during break, 7-8 Age Group)
  • When a player has been cautioned or sent off (yellow or red card)
  • When a player has been instructed to leave the field for an equipment change

Reporting. During live play, substitutes shall not enter the field of play until they report to the referee by calling for a substitution. The substitute players must wait at the center line until they are beckoned by the referee. Any number of players can come into the game on any dead ball for either team, so long as the conditions of Rule 4-1., above, have been satisfied. A player may only enter the field of play when beckoned by the referee to enter.

Violation. Any player who enters or leaves the field during the progress of the game, except through normal movement of play, without the referee's permission shall be guilty of misconduct.

PENALTY. The player shall be cautioned (show the yellow card) and the opponent team shall be awarded an indirect free kick from the location of the ball at the time of the infraction.

Substitutions may not be permitted during live play or at any time without the acknowledgment of a referee. To acknowledge a substitution, blow the whistle to signal the other referee and have the player hold the ball. Raise a hand in the air straight up and hold it there until the substitution is complete. You should count the number of players on the field for both teams any time a substitution occurs. Players must come onto the field from the touchline at the halfway line. Kindly remind the coaches of this as necessary. If a 12th player takes the field without being acknowledged or otherwise in violation of these rules, issue a yellow card to the 12th player and direct that player to return to the coach.

Injuries

Referees should stop the game for any injury. When it becomes apparent that an injured player is down on the field, play should be allowed to continue until the ball goes out of play unless the play action threatens the injured player or unless the player is severely injured. Players must not be allowed on the field if they are bleeding or if there is blood on their body or clothing. Such players must be told to leave the field until (a) the bleeding can be stopped and (b) any clothing with blood on it replaced.

If an severe injury occurs, the adult coaches have been instructed to call for help (such as police, fire, and medical assistance), but a referee certainly may do so if for some reason the need arises. Locate and notify the field supervisor as soon as it is practical to do so.

In the event of a blood-bearing injury, never make contact with the wound or the blood or any fluid. First aid and medical care should be performed by a competent and trained adult.

In the event of other serious injuries such as a bone break or a neck or back injury, a proper response by trained persons is critical to minimizing the potential for furthering the injury and these procedures should be performed by medically trained persons only. Have an adult call 911 for emergency help immediately! Do not attempt to move a victim of such an injury.

Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct

Law 12 of FIFA's Laws of the Game (LOTG) cover the enforcement of the game's rules by the referee. These rules are designed to keep the game fair and safe. This gives the referee a lot of power to regulate the flow of the game while keeping the players safe, so this is actually a very important responsibility.

For coaches, players, and parents, knowing the Laws of the Game will make you a better teacher, contestant, and spectator.

The LOTG are enforced in one of four ways:

  • Indirect Free Kick
  • Direct Free Kick (or Penalty Kick, if the offense occurs in the offender’s own penalty area)
  • Yellow Card (may require an indirect or direct free kick)
  • Red Card (usually requires a direct free kick or a penalty kick)

If the infraction is serious, cautioning a player or sending a player off (ejecting them from the game) may be warranted. This is what the yellow and red cards are for.

Indirect Free Kick

Indirect free kicks are awarded to the opposing team when a player commits an technical offense.

An indirect free kick may not directly score a goal unless the ball first touches another player. If an indirect free kick passes into the goal, a goal is not counted and the defending team is awarded a goal kick as if the ball had simply gone out-of-bounds. Note that there are no indirect free kicks in the 4-6 age groups: All free kicks are direct free kicks in the 4-6 age groups.

An indirect free kick is awarded for technical violations. An indirect free kick cannot score unless the ball first touches another player before passing into the goal.

An indirect free kick is awarded for the following offenses:

  • kick-off taker touches ball a 2nd time in a row
  • offside: Indirect, taken from the place where the player who was offside was standing
  • plays in a dangerous manner (including a intentional header)*
  • impedes the progress of an opponent
  • prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
  • commits any other offense, not previously mentioned here or under 'Direct Free Kick', below, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

* Playing in a dangerous manner:  According to the LOTG, “Playing in a dangerous manner is any action that, while trying to play the ball, threatens injury to someone (including the player themself) and includes preventing a nearby opponent from playing the ball for fear of injury.” Walker Recreation youth soccer specifically regards playing the ball with the head (a so-called “header”) as dangerous play. Playing for the ball with the feet while any part of the body other than the feet has contact with the ground (e.g., sliding) is also dangerous play.

Direct Free Kick

Direct free kicks are awarded to the opposing team when a player commits an offense of a violent nature or of physical contact, or the technical offense of handling the ball.

A free kick is issued as a disciplinary action for fouls and misconduct, and to sanction violations of the laws of the game.

A goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick. A direct free kick is awarded when a player:

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent
  • tackles an opponent
  • holds an opponent
  • spits at an opponent
  • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
Handling the Ball

Handling the ball (usually called simply a "hand ball") is the only non-violent offense in soccer sanctioned by a direct free kick (or penalty kick, if it occurs in the defending penalty area), but it deserves special attention for another reason: Contact between the player's hand or arm and the ball happens all the time but it is almost never a violation of the rules.

By definition, "Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm" (FIFA Laws of the Game, Law 12).

It means just that: handling the ball. That means the ball was handled by the player. It does not mean that the ball touched somebody's hand or arm. When you consider what it means to "handle" something, know that this means the player used their arm or hand to deliberately play the ball. There must exist intent to alter the play of the game by use of these parts of the body, and that the action was intentional.

Unintentional (inadvertent) contact with the hands or arm are now penalized if it results in a goal or a goal scoring opportunity.

Enforcement

In the youngest three age groups (age 4, ages 5-6 and ages 7-8), officials are advised to include a little less intentional contact between the player's hand or arm when enforcing handling the ball. This is because those younger players tend to reflexively reach for balls or otherwise make no effort to avoid hand or arm contact when the ball takes to flight; and penalizing contact which is less intentional and more incidental helps to teach them out of that inclination. Also, incidental contact is far less common in the younger age groups because the ball doesn't really get up off the ground as much. Finally, the officials assigned to the younger age groups have less experience discerning which handling offenses to call and which to let go. This gives them some latitude as they learn and gain experience.

In the older two age groups (9-10 and 11-13), the officials use a more conventional form of enforcement which is consistent with FIFA's Laws of the Game: It's hand to ball, not ball to hand. FIFA's Laws of the Game say that one should consider the following when enforcing handling the ball:

  • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • the distance between the opponent and the ball (e.g., unexpected or unavoidable ball contact)

Finally, FIFA's Laws of the Game give the officials broad discretion in interpreting the rules and in their enforcement. What this means to Walker Recreation is that the officials will make the decision as to whether to enforce this (and other rules) according to their training and summary judgement. Notify a field supervisor if the performance of the officials comes into question; do not delay or interfere with the flow of the game by showing dissent for their decisions when the clock is running.

Yellow Card

Yellow cards are not used in the age 4, age 5-6, and age 7-8 age groups. A yellow card communicates a caution to a player and visibly signals the coach that a caution has been administered.

A yellow card indicates to the player that they have been cautioned, or warned, about their behavior on the field.

A referee should administer a caution by showing the yellow card if a player:

  • delays the restart of play
  • shows dissent by word or action
  • goes up for a header against another player (both players cautioned)
  • enters or re-enters the field of play without the referee's permission
  • deliberately leaves the field of play without the referee's permission
  • fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick
  • persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
Unsporting behavior:
  • commits an unacknowledged substitution
  • unfairly distracts or impedes an opponent on a throw-in
  • faking injury to deceive the referee
  • changing places with the goalkeeper without the officials’ permission
  • handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack (less than an obvious goal scoring opportunity, which is a red card)
  • handles the ball in an attempt to score a goal
  • handles the ball in an unsuccessful attempt to stop a goal from scoring
  • plays the ball after receiving permission to leave the field of play
  • shows a lack of respect for the game
  • verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart
Excessive celebration of a goal:
  • approaching the spectators in a manner which causes safety or security issues
  • gesturing or acting in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way
  • covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item
  • removing the shirt or covering the head with the shirt

Some discretion on the part of the referee is permissible. If a player receives a yellow card, he is permitted to continue play. If a player receives two yellow cards during the same game, that player is sent off and their team may then only play with one less player (total 10 players instead of 11, for example).

Red Card

Red cards are not used in the age 4, age 5-6, and age 7-8 age groups. A red card communicates a sending off to a player and visibly signals the coach that a player has been removed from play. A player so removed from play may not rejoin play for the remainder of the current game and may not be replaced with a substitute player.

A red card indicates to the player that they have been sent off, or ejected from the game, because of their behavior on the field.

At the referee's discretion, some of these offenses may be cautioned with a yellow card. Normally, a player will be shown the red card and sent-off immediately if that player:

  • denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
  • 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
  • serious foul play
  • spits at an opponent or any other person
  • violent conduct
  • uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • receives a second caution in the same match

If a player is shown the red card and sent off, their team may then only play with one less player (total 10 players instead of 11, for example). Please note that no discretion should be shown for severe foul language, obscenity, or dangerous violence. Safety is our Number One priority, and the removal of dangerous players should be used to effect safe game play.

Additionally, an official or a field supervisor may eject a coach or spectator if he commits any of these offenses or for another serious violation of the park or soccer program rules.

Disciplinary Action: Team Officials

Team officials (coaches, assistant coaches) may be warned if:

  • entering the field of play
  • failing to cooperate with a match official

Team officials (coaches, assistant coaches) may be cautioned (yellow card) if:

  • clearly/persistently not respecting the confines of their team’s technical area
  • delaying the restart of play by their team
  • dissent by word or action
  • excessively/persistently gesturing for a red or yellow card
  • gesturing or acting in a provocative or inflammatory manner
  • persistent unacceptable behaviour
  • showing a lack of respect for the game

Team officials (coaches, assistant coaches) may be sent off (red card) if:

  • delaying the restart of play
  • deliberately leaving the technical area to
  • show dissent towards, or remonstrate with, a match official
  • act in a provocative or inflammatory manner
  • enter the opposing technical area in an aggressive or confrontational manner
  • deliberately throwing/kicking an object onto the field of play
  • entering the field of play to confront a match official (including at half-time and full-time)
  • entering the field of play to interfere with play, an opposing player or a match official
  • violent, physical or aggressive behavior
  • a second caution in the same match
  • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures

If no coaches are available as a result of a sending off, the match is abandoned but may be rescheduled by the office in the following weeks. Alternately, if a field supervisor is available, the supervisor may take over coaching for the team for the remainder of the game per discretion.

The 'Advantage' Rule

The official may allow play to continue when the team against which an offense has been committed will benefit from such an advantage (ie, the continuation of play) and penalizes the original offense if the anticipated advantage does not ensue within a reasonable period of time.

In soccer, the advantage rule gives the referee discretionary power to ignore an infraction of the LOTG if the enforcement of that rule (ie, stopping the flow of the play in action) would unfairly disadvantage a team in possession of the ball. For example, a player on 'Team A' is making a run with the ball towards goal and he is pushed violently by an opponent from 'Team B' - but maintains possession of the ball and continues towards the goal without falling. Stopping the play now to administer the penalty would unfairly disadvantage the attacker, so play should be allowed to continue until the next stoppage, at which point the offending player may be verbally warned for his poor conduct, cautioned (with the yellow card) or sent off (with the red card) as appropriate.

Law 9: The Ball in and out of Play

According to the LOTG, the ball is out of play when:

  • it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
  • it hits an official, and then: (1) starts a promising attack; (2) scores a goal; or (3) changes possession to the opposite team
  • play has been stopped by the referee

“Wholly passed over” the line means that the back edge of the ball has crossed completely past the outside edge of the painted line (see the illustration).

How to tell when a ball has crossed a boundary line.

Law 11: Offside
(Ages 9-13 only)

What is an “offside position”?

A player is in an offside position when:

  1. on the opponent’s half of the field; and
  2. nearer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

IT IS NOT AN OFFENSE TO BE IN AN OFFSIDE POSITION.

When is an “offside” player penalized?

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a team-mate is only penalized when they become actively involved in the play by:

  1. interfering with the play by making contact with the ball; or
  2. interfering with an opponent by doing one of these things:
    1. clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision
    2. challenging an opponent for the ball
    3. clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent
    4. making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball
Therefore, players are only “offside” if they are in an “offside” position when the ball is played (as opposed to when the player reaches and touches the ball); and “offside” offenses are only penalized when the offside player “clearly makes an obvious action” that “clearly impacts” the play by virtue of their action; not by virtue of their presence in an offside position.
Off the side (or simply offside) is a rule in soccer designed to prevent players from gaining an unfair field position advantage at the more advanced levels of soccer play. This rule is only enforced in the 9-13 age groups.

A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball is played by one of his team (for example, a pass or a shot), he is involved in active play by: (1) interfering with play; or (2) interfering with an opponent; or (3) gaining an advantage by being in that position. Importantly, a player is not penalized for simply being in an offside position!

There is no offside offense during a goal kick, throw-in or a corner kick. Offside offenses are therefore enforced during free kicks from penalties.

Off the side (or simply offside) is sanctioned by an indirect free kick to be taken from the location of the offending player.