Laws of the Game

The FIFA Laws of the Game can be confusing at times. Depending on what league you are officiating for, there may be slight variations. The only way to be sure is to check with your league coordinator or league handbook. In this article, we will be clarifying some ambiguities based on the official FIFA version of the Laws of the Game.

Note: you should be familiar with the FIFA Laws of the Game before reading below

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Law 1- The Field of Play

Most youth leagues play matches for certain age groups on slightly smaller fields with smaller goals.

Law 2- The Ball

Different age groups may use different size balls.

Law 3- The Number of Players

Some youth games may play with a smaller number of players on the field. Depending on the league, there may be different numbers of substitutions allowed (usually ranging from 3 to unlimited).

Law 4- The Players’ Equipment

This is to the discretion of the referee.

Law 5- The Referee

It is important to understand all of the powers and duties of the referee so you can do a better job enforcing the Laws of the Game and keeping the match under control.

Law 6- The Assistant Referees

The assistant referees do not have the power to make decisions officially, but they can assist the referee in making his decision.

Law 7- The Duration of the Match

Youth matches may have a shorter duration than adult matches. Additionally, the referee may decide along with the coaches to shorten the length of a match before the start.

Law 8- The Start and Restart of Play

The referee should know which restarts require the whistle to be blown and which don’t, as it can get annoying to spectators, players, coaches, and even the assistant referees when the referee blows his whistle to signal every restart.

Law 9- Ball In and Out of Play

The entire ball must have crossed the line for the referee to deem it out of play.

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Law 10- The Method of Scoring

The same principle as in law 9 can be applied to determining if a goal stands or not.Screen Shot 2016-05-16 at 4.46.05 PM

Law 11- Offside

This video does a good job explaining the offside law

Law 12- Fouls and Misconduct

Be sure to know the difference between a direct and an indirect free kick:

A direct free kick should be awarded if 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)

An indirect free kick should be awarded if a player:
– controls the ball with his hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from his possession
– touches the ball again with his hands after he has released it from his possession and before it has touched another player
– touches the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
– touches the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate
– plays in a dangerous manner
– impedes the progress of an opponent
– prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
-commits any other offence, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

The referee should know when to caution or send a player off.

The referee should caution a player if the player commits:
– unsporting behavior
– dissent by word or action
– persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
– delaying the restart of play
– failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner
– kick, free kick or throw-in
– entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
– deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission

The referee should send a player off if the player commits:
– serious foul play
– violent conduct
– spitting at an opponent or any other person
– denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
– denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
– using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
-receiving a second caution in the same match

The referee should know the procedure for a penalty kick.

Law 13-Free Kicks

The direct free kick
– Ball enters the goal
– if a direct free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is awarded
– if a direct free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team

The indirect free kick
**A goal can be scored only if the ball subsequently touches another player before it enters the goal
– if an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
– if an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team

Law 14- The Penalty Kick

Awarded for a direct free kick offense that occurs in the penalty area

Law 15- The Throw In

The thrower must:
– face the field of play
– have part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
– hold the ball with both hands
deliver the ball from behind and over his head
deliver the ball from the point where it left the field of play

Law 16- The Goal Kick

The ball must leave the penalty are before being touched by another player after the kick is taken.

Law 17- The Corner Kick

A corner kick CAN be scored directly, a player cannot be offside while receiving the ball directly from a corner kick, and the ball must be kicked and moved before it is in play.

Law 18- Common Sense

The referee should use their best judgment while enforcing the laws of the game.

Law Nineteen