LAWS OF THE GAME

LAWS OF THE GAME

Field surface

The field of play must be a wholly natural or, if competition rules permit, a wholly artificial playing surface except where competition rules permit an integrated combination of artificial and natural materials (hybrid system).

The colour of artificial surfaces must be green.

Where artificial surfaces are used in competition matches between representative teams of national football associations affiliated to FIFA or international club competition matches, the surface must meet the requirements of the FIFA Quality Programme for Football Turf or the International Match Standard, unless special dispensation is given by The IFAB.

Field markings

The field of play must be rectangular and marked with continuous lines which must not be dangerous; artificial playing surface material may be used for the field markings on natural fields if it is not dangerous. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.

Only the lines indicated in Law 1 are to be marked on the field of play.

The two longer boundary lines are touchlines. The two shorter lines are goal-lines.

The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line, which joins the midpoint of the two touchlines.

The centre mark is at the midpoint of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of 9.15m (10yds) is marked around it.

Marks may be made off the field of play 9.15m (10yds) from the corner arc at right angles to the goal lines and the touchlines.

All lines must be of the same width, which must not be more than 12cm (5ins). The goal lines must be of the same width as the goalposts and the crossbar.

Where artificial surfaces are used, other lines are permitted provided they are a different colour and clearly distinguishable from the football lines.

A player who makes unauthorised marks on the field of play must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour. If the referee notices this being done during the match, the player is cautioned when the ball next goes out of play.
Dimensions

The touchline must be longer than the goal-line.

Length (touchline):
minimum 90m (100yds)
maximum 120m (130yds)

Length (goal-line):
minimum 45m (50yds)
maximum 90m (100yds)

Dimensions for international matches

Length (touchline):
minimum 100m (100yds)
maximum 110m (120yds)

Length (goal-line):
minimum 64m (70yds)
maximum 75m (80yds)

Competitions may determine the length of the goal-line and touchline within the above dimensions.

Field Dimensions

 

  • Measurements are from the outside of the lines as the lines are part of the area they enclose.
  • The penalty mark is measured from the centre of the mark to the back edge of the goal line.
The goal area
Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal-line, 5.5m (6yds) from the inside of each goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for 5.5m (6yds) and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal-line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal-line is the goal area.

The penalty area

Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal-line, 16.5m (18yds) from the inside of each goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for 16.5m (18yds) and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal-line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal-line is the penalty area.

Within each penalty area, a penalty mark is made 11m (12yds) from the midpoint between the goalposts.

An arc of a circle with a radius of 9.15m (10yds) from the centre of each penalty mark is drawn outside the penalty area.

The corner area

The corner area is defined by a quarter circle with a radius of 1m (1yd) from each corner flagpost drawn inside the field of play.

Corner Area


Flagposts
 
A flagpost, at least 1.5m (5ft) high, with a non-pointed top and a flag must be placed at each corner.

Flagposts may be placed at each end of the halfway line, at least 1m (1yd) outside the touchline.

The Technical Area

The technical area relates to matches played in stadiums with a designated seated area for team officials, substitutes and substituted players as outlined below:
  • the technical area should only extend 1m (1yd) on either side of the designated seated area and up to a distance of 1m (1yd) from the touchline
  • markings should be used to define the area
  • the number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules
  • the occupants of the technical area:
    • are identified before the start of the match in accordance with the competition rules
    • must behave in a responsible manner
    • must remain within its confines except in special circumstances, e.g. a physiotherapist/doctor entering the field of play, with the referee’s permission, to assess an injured player
  • only one person at a time is authorised to convey tactical instructions from the technical area

Goals

A goal must be placed on the centre of each goal line.

A goal consists of two vertical posts equidistant from the corner flagposts and joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar. The goalposts and crossbar must be made of approved material. They must be square, rectangular, round or elliptical in shape and must not be dangerous.

The distance between the inside of the posts is 7.32m (8yds) and the distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground is 2.44m (8ft).

The position of the goalposts in relation to the goal line must be in accordance with the graphics.

The goalposts and the crossbar must be white and have the same width and depth, which must not exceed 12cm (5ins).

If the crossbar becomes displaced or broken, play is stopped until it has been repaired or replaced in position. If it can not be repaired the match must be abandoned. A rope or any flexible or dangerous material may not replace the crossbar. Play is restarted with a dropped ball.

Nets may be attached to the goals and the ground behind the goal; they must be properly supported and must not interfere with the goalkeeper.

SAFETY

Goals (including portable goals) must be firmly secured to the ground.

Position of the goalposts

Goal-line Technology (GLT)

GLT systems may be used to verify whether a goal has been scored to support the referee’s decision.

Where GLT is used, modifications to the goal frame may be permitted in accordance with the specifications stipulated in the FIFA Quality Programme for GLT and with the Laws of the Game. The use of GLT must be stipulated in the competition rules.

PRINCIPLES OF GLT

GLT applies solely to the goal line and is only used to determine whether a goal has been scored.

The indication of whether a goal has been scored must be immediate, and automatically confirmed within one second by the GLT system only to the match officials (via the referee’s watch, by vibration and visual signal).

REQUIREMENTS AND SPECIFICATIONS OF GLT

If GLT is used in competition matches, the competition organisers must ensure that the system is certified according to one of the following standards:

FIFA Quality PRO
FIFA Quality
IMS – INTERNATIONAL MATCH STANDARD

An independent testing institute must verify the accuracy and functionality of the different technology providers’ systems in accordance with the Testing Manual. If the technology does not function in accordance with the Testing Manual, the referee must not use the GLT system and must report this to the appropriate authority.

Where GLT is used, the referee must test the technology’s functionality before the match as set out in the FIFA Quality Programme for GLT Testing Manual.

Commercial Advertising

No form of commercial advertising, whether real or virtual, is permitted on the field of play, on the ground within the area enclosed by the goal nets, the technical area or the referee review area (RRA), or on the ground within 1m (1yd) of the boundary lines from the time the teams enter the field of play until they have left it at half-time and from the time the teams re-enter the field of play until the end of the match. Advertising is not permitted on the goals, nets, flagposts or their flags and no extraneous equipment (cameras, microphones, etc.) may be attached to these items.

In addition, upright advertising must be at least:

  • 1m (1yd) from the touchlines of the field of play
  • the same distance from the goal line as the depth of the goal net
  • 1m (1yd) from the goal net

Logos and Emblems

The reproduction, whether real or virtual, of representative logos or emblems of FIFA, confederations, national football associations, competitions, clubs or other bodies is forbidden on the field of play, the goal nets and the areas they enclose, the goals, and the flagposts during playing time. They are permitted on the flags on the flagposts.

Video Assistant Referees (VARs)

In matches using VARs there must be a video operation room (VOR) and at least one referee review area (RRA).

VIDEO OPERATION ROOM (VOR)

The VOR is where the video assistant referee (VAR), assistant VAR (AVAR) and replay operator (RO) work; it may be in/close to the stadium or at a more distant location. Only authorised persons are permitted to enter the VOR or communicate with VAR, AVAR and RO during the match.

A player, substitute or substituted player who enters the VOR will be sent off; a team official who enters the VOR will be dismissed from the technical area.

REFEREE REVIEW AREA

In matches using VARs there must be at least one RRA where the referee undertakes an ‘on-field’ review (OFR). The RRA must be:

  • in a visible location outside the field of play
  • clearly marked

A player, substitute or substituted player who enters the RRA will be cautioned: a team official who enters the RRA will be publicly given an official warning (or cautioned where YCs are used for team officials).

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LAW 2: THE BALL

Qualities and Measurements

All balls must be:

  • spherical
  • made of suitable material
  • of a circumference of between 70cm (28ins) and 68cm (27ins)
  • between 450g (16oz) and 410g (14oz) in weight at the start of the match
  • of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1,100g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in – 15.6 lbs/sq in)

All balls used in matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA or confederations must bear one of the following:

  • FIFA Quality PRO
  • FIFA Quality
  • IMS – INTERNATIONAL MATCH STANDARD

FIFA quality pro logos
Balls carrying previous quality marks such as “FIFA Approved”, “FIFA Inspected” or “International Matchball Standard” may be used in aforementioned competitions until 31 July 2017.

Each mark indicates that it has been officially tested and meets the specific technical requirements for that mark which are additional to the minimum specifications stipulated in Law 2 and must be approved by The IFAB. The institutes conducting the tests are subject to the approval of FIFA.

Where goal-line technology (GLT) is used, balls with integrated technology must carry one of the above listed quality marks.

National football association competitions may require the use of balls bearing one of these marks.

In matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, confederations or national football associations, no form of commercial advertising is permitted on the ball, except for the logo/emblem of the competition, the competition organiser and the authorised manufacturer’s trademark. The competition regulations may restrict the size and number of such markings.

Replacement of a defective ball

If the ball becomes defective:

  • play is stopped and
  • restarted by dropping the replacement ball where the original ball became defective

If the ball becomes defective at a kick-off, goal kick, corner kick, free kick, penalty kick or throw-in play the restart is re-taken.

If the ball becomes defective during a penalty kick or kicks from the penalty mark as it moves forward and before it touches a player, crossbar or goalposts the penalty kick is retaken.

The ball may not be changed during the match without the referee’s permission.

Additional Balls

Additional balls which meet the requirements of Law 2 may be placed around the field of play and their use is under the referee’s control.


LAW 3: THE PLAYERS

Number of Players

A match is played by two teams, each with a maximum of eleven players; one must be the goalkeeper. A match may not start or continue if either team has fewer than seven players.

If a team has fewer than seven players because one or more players has deliberately left the field of play, the referee is not obliged to stop play and the advantage may be played, but the match must not resume after the ball has gone out of play if a team does not have the minimum number of seven players.

If the competition rules state that all players and substitutes must be named before kick-off and a team starts a match with fewer than eleven players, only the players and substitutes named in the starting line-up may take part in the match upon their arrival.

Number of substitutions

OFFICIAL COMPETITIONS

The  number of substitutes, up to a maximum of five, which may be used in any match played in an official competition will be determined by FIFA, the confederation or the national football association except for men and women competitions involving the 1st teams of clubs in the top division or senior ‘A’ international teams, where the maximum is three substitutes.

The competition rules must state

  • how many substitutes may be named, from three to a maximum of twelve.
  • whether one additional substitute may be used when a match goes into extra time (whether or not the team has already used the full number of permitted substitutes)

OTHER MATCHES

In national “A” team matches, a maximum of twelve substitutes may be named of which a maximum of six may be used.

In all other matches, a greater number of substitutes may be used provided that:

  • the teams reach agreement on a maximum number
  • the referee is informed before the match

If the referee is not informed, or if no agreement is reached before the match, each team is allowed a maximum of six substitutes.

RETURN SUBSTITUTIONS

The use of return substitutions is only permitted in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football, subject to the agreement of the national football association.

Substitution procedure

The names of the substitutes must be given to the referee before the start of the match. Any substitute not named by this time may not take part in the match.

To replace a player with a substitute, the following must be observed:

  • the referee must be informed before any substitution is made
  • the player being substituted receives the referee’s permission to leave the field of play, unless already off the field
  • the player being replaced is not obliged to leave on the halfway line and takes no further part in the match, except where return substitutions are permitted
  • if a player who is to be replaced refuses to leave, play continues

The substitute only enters:

  • during a stoppage in play
  • at the halfway line
  • after the player being replaced has left
  • after receiving a signal from the referee

The substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play; from that moment, the replaced player becomes a substituted player and the substitute becomes a player and can take any restart.

All substituted players and substitutes are subject to the referee’s authority whether they play or not.

Changing the goalkeeper

Any of the players may change places with the goalkeeper if:

  • the referee is informed before the change is made
  • the change is made during a stoppage in play

Offences and sanctions

If a named substitute starts a match instead of a named player and the referee is not informed of this change:

  • the referee allows the named substitute to continue playing
  • no disciplinary sanction is taken against the named substitute
  • the named player can become a named substitute
  • the number of substitutions is not reduced
  • the referee reports the incident to the appropriate authorities

If a substitution is made during the half-time interval or before extra time, the procedure must be completed before the match restarts. If the referee is not informed, the named substitute may continue to play, no disciplinary action is taken and the matter is reported to the appropriate authority.

If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the referee’s permission, the referee:

  • allows play to continue
  • cautions both players when the ball is next out of play but not if the change occurred during half-time (including extra time) or the period between the end of the match and the start of extra time and/or kicks from the penalty mark.

For any other offences:

  • the players are cautioned
  • play is restarted with an indirect free kick, from the position of the ball when play was stopped

Players and substitutes sent off

A player who is sent off:

  • before submission of the team list can not be named on the team list in any capacity
  • after being named on the team list and before kick-off may be replaced by a named substitute, who can not be replaced; the number of substitutions the team can make is not reduced
  • after the kick-off can not be replaced

A named substitute who is sent off before or after the kick-off may not be replaced.

Extra persons on the field of play

The coach and other officials named on the team list (with the exception of players or substitutes) are team officials. Anyone not named on the team list as a player, substitute or team official is an outside agent.

If a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player or outside agent enters the field of play the referee must:

  • only stop play if there is interference with play
  • have the person removed when play stops
  • take appropriate disciplinary action

If play is stopped and the interference was by:

  • a team official, substitute, substituted or sent off player, play restarts with a direct free kick or penalty kick
  • an outside agent, play restarts with a dropped ball

If a ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent a defending player playing the ball, the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal.

Player outside the field of play

If a player who requires the referee’s permission to re-enter the field of play re-enters without the referee’s permission, the referee must:

  • stop play (not immediately if the player does not interfere with play or a match official or if the advantage can be applied)
  • caution the player for entering the field of play without permission

If the referee stops play, it must be restarted:

  • with a direct free kick from the position of the interference
  • with an indirect free kick from the position of the ball when play was stopped if there was no interference

A player who crosses a boundary line as part of a playing movement, does not commit an offence.

Goal scored with an extra person on the field of play

If, after a goal is scored, the referee realises, before play restarts, an extra person was on the field of play when the goal was scored:

  • the referee must disallow the goal if the extra person was:
    • a player, substitute, substituted player, sent off player or team official of the team that scored the goal; play is restarted with a direct free kick from the position of the extra person
    • an outside agent who interfered with play unless a goal results as outlined above in ‘extra persons on the field of play’; play is restarted with a dropped ball
  • the referee must allow the goal if the extra person was:
    • a player, substitute, substituted player, sent off player or team official of the team that conceded the goal
    • an outside agent who did not interfere with play

In all cases, the referee must have the extra person removed from the field of play.

If, after a goal is scored and play has restarted, the referee realises an extra person was on the field of play when the goal was scored, the goal can not be disallowed. If the extra person is still on the field the referee must:

  • stop play
  • have the extra person removed
  • restart with a dropped ball or free kick as appropriate

The referee must report the incident to the appropriate authority.

Team Captain

The team captain has no special status or privileges but has a degree of responsibility for the behaviour of the team.


LAW 4: THE PLAYERS’ EQUIPMENT

Safety

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous.

All items of jewellery (necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, leather bands, rubber bands, etc.) are forbidden and must be removed. Using tape to cover jewellery is not permitted.

The players must be inspected before the start of the match and substitutes before they enter the field of play. If a player is wearing or using unauthorised/dangerous equipment or jewellery the referee must order the player to:

  • remove the item
  • leave the field of play at the next stoppage if the player is unable or unwilling to comply

A player who refuses to comply or wears the item again must be cautioned.

Compulsory equipment

The compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate items:

  • a shirt with sleeves
  • shorts
  • socks – tape or any material applied or worn externally must be the same colour as that part of the sock it is applied to or covers
  • shinguards – these must be made of a suitable material to provide reasonable protection and covered by the socks
  • footwear

Goalkeepers may wear tracksuit bottoms.

A player whose footwear or shinguard is lost accidentally must replace it as soon as possible and no later than when the ball next goes out of play; if before doing so the player plays the ball and/or scores a goal, the goal is awarded.

Colours

  • The two teams must wear colours that distinguish them from each other and the match officials
  • Each goalkeeper must wear colours that are distinguishable from the other players and the match officials
  • If the two goalkeepers’ shirts are the same colour and neither has another shirt, the referee allows the match to be played.

Undershirts must be the same colour as the main colour of the shirt sleeve; undershorts/tights must be the same colour as the main colour of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts – players of the same team must wear the same colour.

Other equipment

Non-dangerous protective equipment, for example headgear, facemasks and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material is permitted as are goalkeepers’ caps and sports spectacles.

Head Covers

Where head covers (excluding goalkeepers’s caps) are worn, they must:

  • be black or the same main colour as the shirt (provided that the players of the same team wear the same colour)
  • be in keeping with the professional appearance of the player’s equipment
  • not be attached to the shirt
  • not be dangerous to the player wearing it or any other player (e.g. opening/closing mechanism around neck)
  • not have any part(s) extending out from the surface (protruding elements)

Electronic communication

Players (including substitutes/substituted and sent off players) are not permitted to wear or use any for of electronic communication equipment (except where EPTS is allowed). The use of any form of electronic communication by team officials is permitted where it directly relates to player welfare or safety or for tactical/coaching reasons but only small, mobile, hand-held equipment (e.g. microphone, headphone, earphone, ear-piece, mobilephone/smartphone, smartwatch, tablet, laptop) may be used. A team official who uses unauthorised equipment or who behaves in an inappropriate manner as a result of the use of electronic or communication equipment will be dismissed from the technical area.

Electronic perfomance and tracking systems (EPTS)

Where wearable technology (WT) as part of electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS) is used in matches played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, confederations or national football associations, the competition organiser must ensure that the technology attached to the player’s equipment is not dangerous and must bear the following mark:

IMS logo

This mark indicates that it has been officially tested and meets the minimum safety requirements of the International Match Standard developed by FIFA and approved by The IFAB. The institutes conducting the tests are subject  to the approval of FIFA. The transition period runs until 31 May 2018.

Where electronic performance and tracking systems (EPTS) are used (subject to the agreement of the national football association/competition organiser) the competition organiser must ensure that the information and data transmitted from EPTS to the technical area during the match in matches played in an official competition are reliable and accurate.

A professional standard was developed by FIFA and approved by The IFAB in order to support the competition organisers with the approval process of reliable and accurate electronic performance and tracking systems.

The professional standard will be implemented in the transition period until 1 June 2019. The following mark indicates that an EPTS device/system has been officially tested and meets the requirements in terms of reliability and accuracy of positional data in football:

Slogans, statements, images and advertising

Equipment must not have any political, religious or personal slogans, statements or images. Players must not reveal undergarments that show political, religious, personal slogans, statements or images, or advertising other than the manufacturer`s logo. For any offence the player and/or the team will be sanctioned by the competition organiser, national football association or to be justified by FIFA.

Principles

  • Law 4 applies to all equipment (including clothing) worn by players, substitutes and substituted players; it’s principles also apply to all team officials in the technical area
  • The following are (usually) permitted:
    •  the player’s number, name, team crest/logo, initiative slogans/emblems promoting the game of football, respect and integrity as well as any advertising permitted by competition rules or national FA, confederation or FIFA regulations
    • the facts of a match: teams, date, competition/event, venue
  • Permitted slogans, statements or images should be confined to the shirt front and/or armband
  • in some cases, the slogan, statement or image might only appear on the captain’s armband

Interpreting the Law

When interpreting whether a slogan, statement or image is permissible, note should be taken f Law 12 (Fouls and Misconduct), which requires the referee to take action against a player who is guilty of:

  • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • gesturing in a provocative, derisory or inflammatory way

Any slogan, statement or image which falls into any of these categories is not permitted.

Whilst ‘religious’ and ‘personal’ are relatively easily defined, ‘political’ is less clear but slogans, statements or images related to the following are not permitted:

  • any person(s), living or dead (unless part of the official competition name)
  • any local, regional, national or international political party/organisation/group, etc.
  • any local, regional or national government or any of its departments, offices or functions
  • any organisation which is discriminatory
  • any organisation whose aims/actions are likely to offend a notable number of people
  • any specific political act/event

When commemorating a significant national or international event, the sensibilities of the opposing team (including its supporters) and the general public should be carefully considered.

Competition rules may contain further restrictions/limitations, particularly in relation to the size, number and position of permitted slogans, statements and images. It is recommended that disputes relating to slogans, statements or images be resolved prior to a match/competition taking place.

Offences and sanctions

For any offence play need not be stopped and the player:

  • is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct the equipment
  • leaves when play stops, unless the equipment has already been corrected

A player who leaves the field of play to correct or change equipment must:

  • have the equipment checked by a match official before being allowed to re-enter
  • only re-enter with the referee’s permission (which may be given during play)

A player who enters without permission must be cautioned and if play is stopped to issue the caution, an indirect free kick is awarded from the position of the ball when play was stopped, unless there was interference in which case a direct free kick (or penalty kick) is awarded from the position of the interference.


LAW 5: THE REFEREE

The authority of the referee

Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match.

Decisions of the referee

Decisions will be made to the best of the referee`s ability according to the Laws of the Game and the spirit of the game and will be based on the opinion of the referee who has the discretion to take appropriate action within the framework of the Laws of the Game.

The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final. The decisions of the referee, and all other match officials, must always be respected.

The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or on the advice of another match official, provided play has not restarted or the referee has signalled the end of the first or second half (including extra time) and left the field of play or terminated the match.

If a referee is incapacitated, play may continue under the supervision of the other match officials until the ball is next out of play.

Powers and duties

The referee:

  • enforces the Laws of the Game
  • controls the match in cooperation with the other match officials
  • acts as timekeeper, keeps a record of the match and provides the appropriate authorities with a match report, including information on disciplinary action and any other incidents that occurred before, during or after the match
  • supervises and/or indicates the restart of play

ADVANTAGE

  • allows play to continue when an offence occurs and the non-offending team will benefit from the advantage and penalises the offence if the anticipated advantage does not ensue at that time or within a few seconds

DISCIPLINARY ACTION

  • punishes the more serious offence, in terms of sanction, restart, physical severity and tactical impact, when more than one offence occurs at the same time
  • takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offences
  • has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match ends (including kicks from the penalty mark). If, before entering the field of play at the start of the match, a player commits a sending-off offence, the referee has the authority to prevent the player taking part in the match (see Law 3.6); the referee will report any other misconduct
  • has the power to show yellow or red cards and, where competition rules permit, temporarily dismiss a player, from entering the field of play at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during the half-time interval, extra time and kicks from the penalty mark
  • takes action against team officials who fail to act in a responsible manner and may expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds; a medical team official who commits a dismissible offence may remain if the team has no other medical person available, and act if a player needs medical attention
  • acts on the advice of other match officials regarding incidents that the referee has not seen

INJURIES

  • allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is only slightly injured
  • stops play if a player is seriously injured and ensures that the player is removed from the field of play. An injured player may not be treated on the field of play and may only re-enter after play has restarted; if the ball is in play, re-entry must be from the touchline but if the ball is out of play, it may be from any boundary line. Exceptions to the requirement to leave the field of play are only when:
    • a goalkeeper is injured
    • a goalkeeper and an outfield player have collided and need attention
    • players from the same team have collided and need attention
    • a severe injury has occurred
    • a player is injured as the result of a physical offence for which the opponent is cautioned or sent off (e.g. reckless or serious foul challenge), if the assessment/treatment is completed quickly
  • ensures that any player bleeding leaves the field of play. The player may only re-enter on receiving a signal from the referee, who must be satisfied that the bleeding has stopped and there is no blood on the equipment
  • if the referee has authorised the doctors and /or stretcher bearers to enter the field of play, the player must leave on a stretcher or on foot. A player who does not comply, must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour
  • if the referee has decided to caution or send off a player who is injured and has to leave the field of play for treatment, the card must be shown before the player leaves
  • if play has not been stopped for another reason, or if an injury suffered by a player is not the result of an offence, play is restarted with a dropped ball

OUTSIDE INTERFERENCE

  • stops, suspends or abandons the match for any offences or because of outside interference e.g. if:
    • the floodlights are inadequate
    • an object thrown by a spectator hits a match official, a player or team official, the referee may allow the match to continue, or stop, suspend or abandon it depending on the severity of the incident
    • a spectator blows a whistle which interferes with play – play is stopped and restarted with a dropped ball
    • an extra ball, other object or animal enters the field of play during the match, the referee must:
      • stop play (and restart with a dropped ball) only if it interferes with play unless the ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent a defending player playing the ball, the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal
      • allow play to continue if it does not interfere with play and have it removed at the earliest possible opportunity
  • allows no unauthorised persons to enter the field of play

Video assistant referee (VAR)

The use of video assistant referees (VARS) is only permitted where the match/competition organiser has fulfilled all the VAR protocol and implementation requirements (as set out in the VAR Handbook) and has received written permission from The IFAB and FIFA.

The referee may be assisted by a video assistant referee (VAR) only in the event of a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ in relation to:

  • goal/no goal
  • penalty/no penalty
  • direct red card (not second caution)
  • mistaken identity when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team

The assistance from the video assistant referee (VAR) will relate to using replay(s) of the incident. The referee will make the final decision which may be based solely on the information from the VAR and/or the referee reviewing the replay footage directly (‘on-field review’).

Except for a ‘serious missed incident’ the referee (and where relevant other ‘on-field’, match officials) must always make a decision (including a decision not to penalise a potential offence); this decision does not change unless it is a ‘clear and obvious error’.

REVIEWS AFTER PLAY HAS RESTARTED

If play has stopped and restarted, the referee may only undertake a ‘review’, and take the appropriate disciplinary sanction, for mistaken identity or for a potential sending off offence relating to violent conduct, spitting, biting or extremely offensive, insulting and/or abusive gesture(s).

Referee’s Equipment

COMPULSORY EQUIPMENT

  • Whistle(s)
  • Watch(es)
  • Red and yellow cards
  • Notebook (or other means of keeping a record of the match)

OTHER EQUIPMENT

Referees may be permitted to use:

  • Equipment for communicating with other match officials – buzzer/bleep flags, headsets etc….
  • EPTS or other fitness monitoring equipment

Referees and other ‘on-field’ match officials are prohibited from wearing jewellery or electronic equipment, including cameras.

Referee signals

Refer to graphics for approved referee signals.

In addition to the current ‘two armed’ signal for an advantage, a similar ‘one arm’ signal is now permitted as it is not always easy for referees to run with both arms extended.

Referee signals

Liability of Match Officials

A referee or other match official is not held liable for:

  • any kind of injury suffered by a player, official or spectator
  • any damage to property of any kind
  • any other loss suffered by any individual, club, company, association or other body, which is due or which may be due to any decision taken under the terms of the Laws of the Game or in respect of the normal procedures required to hold, play and control a match.

Such decisions may include a decision:

  • that the condition of the field of play or its surrounds or that the weather conditions are such as to allow or not to allow a match to take place
  • to abandon a match for whatever reason
  • as to the suitability of the field equipment and ball used during a match
  • to stop or not to stop a match due to spectator interference or any problem in spectator areas
  • to stop or not to stop play to allow an injured player to be removed from the field of play for treatment
  • to require an injured player to be removed from the field of play for treatment
  • to allow or not to allow a player to wear certain clothing or equipment
  • where the referee has the authority, to allow or not to allow any persons (including team or stadium officials, security officers, photographers or other media representatives) to be present in the vicinity of the field of play
  • any other decision taken in accordance with the Laws of the Game or in conformity with their duties under the terms of FIFA, confederation, national football association or competition rules or regulations under which the match is played.

LAW 6: THE OTHER MATCH OFFICIALS

Other match officials (two assistant referees, fourth official, two additional assistant referees, reserve assistant referee, video assistant referee (VAR) and at least one assistant VAR (AVAR)) may be appointed to matches. They will assist the referee in controlling the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game but the final decision will always be taken by the referee.

The referee, assistant referees, fourth official, additional assistant referees and reserve assistant referee are the ‘on-field’ match officials.

The VAR and AVAR are the ‘video’ match offiials and assist the referee in accordance with the VAR protocol as determined by The IFAB.

The match officials operate under the direction of the referee. In the event of undue interference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve them of their duties and make a report to the appropriate authorities.

With the exception of the reserve assistant referee, the ‘on-field’ match officials assist the referee with offences when they have a clearer view than the referee and they must submit a report to the appropriate authorities on any serious misconduct or other incident that occurred out of the view of the referee and the other match officials. They must advise the referee and other match officials of any report being made.

The ‘on-field’ match officials assist the referee with inspecting the field of play, the balls and players’ equipment (including if problems have been resolved) and maintaining records of time, goals, misconduct etc.

Competition rules must state clearly who replaces a match official who is unable to start or continue and any associated changes. In particular, it must be clear whether, if the referee is unable to start or continue, the fourth official or the senior assistant referee or senior additional assistant referee takes over

Assistant referees

They indicate when:

  • the whole of the ball leaves the field of play and which team is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in
  • a player in an offside position may be penalised
  • a substitution is requested
  • at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper moves off the goal line before the ball is kicked and if the ball crosses the line; if additional assistant referees have been appointed the assistant referee takes a position in line with the penalty mark

The assistant referee’s assistance also includes monitoring the substitution procedure.

The assistant referee may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m (10 yards) distance.

Fourth official

The fourth official’s assistance also includes:

  • supervising the substitution procedure
  • checking a player’s/substitute’s equipment
  • the re-entry of a player following a signal/approval from the referee
  • supervising the replacement balls
  • indicating the minimum amount of additional time the referee intends to play at the end of each half (including extra time)
  • informing the referee of irresponsible behaviour by any technical area occupant.

Additional assistant referees

The additional assistant referees may indicate:

  • when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, including when a goal is scored
  • which team is entitled to a corner kick or goal kick
  • whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper moves off the goal line before the ball is kicked and if the ball crosses the line

Reserve assistant referee

The only duty of a reserve assistant referee is to replace an assistant referee or fourth official who is unable to continue.

Video match officials

A video assistant referee (VAR) is a match official who may assist the referee to make a decision using replay footage only for a ‘clear and obvious error’ or ‘serious missed incident’ relating to a goal/no goal, penalty/no penalty, direct red card (not a second caution) or a case of mistaken identity when the referee cautions or sends off the wrong player of the offending team

An assistant video assistant referee (AVAR) is a match official who helps the VAR primarily by:

  • watching the television footage while the VAR is busy with a ‘check’ or a ‘review’
  • keeping a record of VAR-related incidents and any communication or technology problems
  • assisting the VAR’s communication with the referee, especially communicating with the referee when the VAR is undertaking a ‘check’/’review’ e.g. to tell the referee to ‘stop play’ or ‘delay the restart’ etc.
  • recording time ‘lost’ when play is delayed for a ‘check’ or a ‘review’
  • communicating information about a VAR-related decision to relevant parties

Assistant referee signals

Assistant Referee signals

 

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LAW 7: THE DURATION OF THE MATCH

Periods of play

A match lasts for two equal halves of 45 minutes which may only be reduced if agreed between the referee and the two teams before the start of the match and is in accordance with competition rules.

Half-time intervalPlayers are entitled to an interval at half-time, not exceeding 15 minutes; a short drinks break (which should not exceed one minute) is permitted at the interval of half-time in extra time. Competition rules must state the duration of the half-time interval and it may be altered only with the referee’s permission.

Allowance for time lost

Allowance is made by the referee in each half for all time lost in that half through:

  • substitutions
  • assessment and/or removal of injured players
  • wasting time
  • disciplinary sanctions
  • stoppages for drinks (which should not exceed one minute) or other medical reasons permitted by competition rules
  • delays relating to VAR ‘checks’ and ‘reviews;
  • any other cause, including any significant delay to a restart (e.g. goal celebrations)

The fourth official indicates the minimum additional time decided by the referee at the end of the final minute of each half. The additional time may be increased by the referee but not reduced.
The referee must not compensate for a timekeeping error during the first half by changing the length of the second half.

Penalty kick

If a penalty kick has to be taken or retaken, the half is extended until the penalty kick is completed.

Abandoned match

An abandoned match is replayed unless the competition rules or organisers determine otherwise.

FAQ

USEFUL RESOURCES


LAW 8: THE START AND RESTART OF PLAY

A kick-off starts both halves of a match, both halves of extra time and restarts play after a goal has been scored. Free kicks (direct or indirect), penalty kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks are other restarts (see Laws 13 – 17). A dropped ball is the restart when the referee stops play and the Law does not require one of the above restarts.

If an offence occurs when the ball is not in play this does not change how play is restarted.

Kick off

PROCEDURE

  • the team that wins the toss of a coin decides which goal it will attack in the first half
  • their opponents take the kick-off
  • the team that wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half
  • for the second half, the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals
  • after a team scores a goal, the kick-off is taken by their opponents

For every kick-off:

  • all players, except the player taking the kick off, must be in their own half of the field of play
  • the opponents of the team taking the kick-off must be at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play
  • the ball must be stationary on the centre mark
  • the referee gives a signal
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves
  • a goal may be scored directly against the opponents from the kick-off; if the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opponents

OFFENCES AND SANCTIONS

If the player taking the kick-off touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick, or for deliberate handball a direct free kick, is awarded.

In the event of any other infringement of the kick-off procedure the kick-off is retaken.
Dropped ball

PROCEDURE

The referee drops the ball at the position where it was when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area in which case the ball is dropped on the goal area line which is parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was when play was stopped.

The ball is in play when it touches the ground.

Any number of players may contest a dropped ball (including the goalkeepers); the referee cannot decide who may contest a dropped ball or its outcome.

INFRINGEMENTS AND SANCTIONS

The ball is dropped again if it:

  • touches a player before it touches the ground
  • leaves the field of play after it touches the ground, without touching a player

If a dropped ball enters the goal without touching at least two players play is restarted with:

  • a goal kick if it enters the opponents’ goal
  • a corner kick if it enters the team’s goal

FAQs

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LAW 9: THE BALL IN AND OUT OF PLAY

Ball out of play

The ball is out of play when:

  • it has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air
  • play has been stopped by the referee

Ball in play

The ball is in play at all other times, including when it rebounds off a match official, goalpost, crossbar or corner flagpost and remains in the field of play.

FAQ

Goal scored

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no offence has been committed by the team scoring the goal.

If a referee signals a goal before the ball has passed wholly over the goal line, play is restarted with a dropped ball.

Winning team

The team scoring the greater number of goals is the winner. If both teams score no goals or an equal number of goals the match is drawn.

When competition rules require a winning team after a drawn match or home-and-away tie, the only permitted procedures to determine the winning team are:

  • away goals rule
  • two equal periods of extra time not exceeding 15 minutes each
  • kicks from the penalty markA combination of the above procedures may be used

Kicks from the penalty mark

Kicks from the penalty mark are taken after the match has ended and unless otherwise stated, the relevant Laws of the Game apply.

Kicks from the penalty mark

PROCEDURE

BEFORE KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK START

  • Unless there are other considerations (e.g. ground conditions, safety etc.), the referee tosses a coin to decide the goal at which the kicks will be taken which may only be changed for safety reasons or if the goal or playing surface becomes unusable
  • The referee tosses a coin again and the team that wins the toss decides whether to take the first or second kick
  • With the exception of a substitute for a goalkeeper who is unable to continue, only players who are on the field of play or are temporarily off the field of play (injury, adjusting equipment etc.) at the end of the match are eligible to take kicks
  • Each team is responsible for selecting from the eligible players the order in which they will take the kicks. The referee is not informed of the order
  • If at the end of the match and before or during the kicks one team has a greater number of players than its opponents, it must reduce its numbers to the same number as its opponents and the referee must be informed of the name and number of each player excluded. Any excluded player is not eligible to take part in the kicks (except as outlined below)
  • A goalkeeper who is unable to continue before or during the kicks may be replaced by a player excluded to equalise the number of players or, if their team has not used its maximum permitted number of substitutes, a named substitute, but the replaced goalkeeper takes no further part and may not take a kick
  • If a goalkeeper has already taken a kick, the replacement may not take a kick until the next round of kicks

DURING KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK

  • Only eligible players and match officials are permitted to remain on the field of play
  • All eligible players, except the player taking the kick and the two goalkeepers, must remain within the centre circle
  • The goalkeeper of the kicker must remain on the field of play, outside the penalty area, on the goal line where it meets the penalty area boundary line
  • An eligible player may change places with the goalkeeper
  • The kick is completed when the ball stops moving, goes out of play or the referee stops play for any offence; the kicker may not play the ball a second time
  • The referee keeps a record of the kicks
  • If the goalkeeper commits an offence and, as a result, the kick is retaken, the goalkeeper must be cautioned
  • If the kicker is penalised for an offence committed after the referee has signalled for the kick to be taken, that kick is recorded as missed and the kicker is cautioned
  • If both the goalkeeper and kicker commit an offence at the same time:
  • if the kick is missed or saved, the kick is retaken and both players cautioned
  • if the kick is scored, the goal is disallowed, the kick is recorded as missed and the kicker cautioned

SUBJECT TO THE CONDITIONS EXPLAINED BELOW, BOTH TEAMS TAKE FIVE KICKS

  • The kicks are taken alternately by the teams
  • If, before both teams have taken five kicks, one has scored more goals than the other could score, even if it were to complete its five kicks, no more kicks are taken
  • If, after both teams have taken five kicks, the scores are level kicks continue until one team has scored a goal more than the other from the same number of kicks
  • Each kick is taken by a different player and all eligible players must take a kick before any player can take a second kick
  • The above principle continues for any subsequent sequence of kicks but a team may change the order of kickers
  • Kicks from the penalty mark must not be delayed for a player who leaves the field of play. The player’s kick will be forfeited (not scored) if the player does not return in time to take a kick

SUBSTITUTIONS AND SEND OFFS DURING KICKS FROM THE PENALTY MARK

  • A player, substitute or substituted player may be cautioned or sent off
  • A goalkeeper who is sent off must be replaced by an eligible player
  • A player other than the goalkeeper who is unable to continue may not be replaced
  • The referee must not abandon the match if a team is reduced to fewer than seven players

LAW 11: OFFSIDE

Offside position

It is not an offence to be in an offside position.

A player is in an offside position if:

  • any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents’ half (excluding the halfway line) and
  • any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent
  • The hands and arms of all players, including the goalkeepers, are not considered.

A player is not in an offside position if level with the:

  • second-last opponent or
  • last two opponents

Offside offence

A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched* by a team-mate is only penalised on becoming involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a team-mate or
  • interfering with an opponent by:
  • preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision or
  • challenging an opponent for the ball or
  • clearly attempting to play a ball which is close when this action impacts on an opponent or
  • making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball

*The first point of contact of the ‘play’ or ‘touch’ of the ball should be used

or

  • gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has:
  • rebounded or been deflected off the goalpost, crossbar or an opponent
  • been deliberately saved by any opponent
  • A player in an offside position receiving the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save by any opponent) is not considered to have gained an advantage.

A ‘save’ is when a player stops, or attempts to stop, a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless the goalkeeper within the penalty area).

In situations where:

  • a player moving from, or standing in, an offside position is in the way of an opponent and interferes with the movement of the opponent towards the ball this is an offside offence if it impacts on the ability of the opponent to play or challenge for the ball; if the player moves into the way of an opponent and impedes the opponent’s progress (e.g blocks the opponent) the offence should be penalised under Law 12
  • a player in an offisde position is moving towards the ball with the intention of playing the ball and is fouled before playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the foul is penalised as it has occurred before the offside offence
  • an offence is committed against a player in an offside position who is already playing or attempting to play the ball, or challenging an opponent for the ball, the offside offence is penalised as it has occurred before the foul challenge

No offence

There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from:

  • a goal kick
  • a throw-in
  • a corner kick

Offences and sanctions

If an offside offence occurs, the referee awards an indirect free kick where the offence occurred, including if it is in the player’s own half of the field of play.

A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until the next stoppage in play or until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area. If the player left the field of play deliberately, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.

An attacking player may step or stay off the field of play not to be involved in active play. If the player re-enters from the goal line and becomes involved in play before the next stoppage in play, or the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area, the player shall be considered to be positioned on the goal line for the purposes of offside. A player who deliberately leaves the field of play and re-enters without the referee’s permission and is not penalised for offside and gains an advantage, must be cautioned.

If an attacking player remains stationary between the goalposts and inside the goal as the ball enters the goal, a goal must be awarded unless the player commits an offside offence or Law 12 offence in which case play is restarted with an indirect or direct free kick.


LAW 12: FOULS AND MISCONDUCT

Direct and indirect free kicks and penalty kicks can only be awarded for offences committed when the ball is in play.

Direct free kick

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • charges
  • jumps at
  • kicks or attempts to kick
  • pushes
  • strikes or attempts to strike (including head-butt)
  • tackles or challenges
  • trips or attempts to trip

If an offence involves contact it is penalised by a direct free kick or penalty kick.

  • Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or consideration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed
  • Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned
  • Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences:

  • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within their penalty area)
  • holds an opponent
  • impedes an opponent with contact
  • bites or spits at someone
  • throws an object at the ball, opponent or match official, or makes contact with the ball with a held object

See also offences in Law 3

HANDLING THE BALL

Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.

The following must be considered:

  • the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
  • the distance between the opponent and the ball (unexpected ball)
  • the position of the hand does not necessarily mean that there is an offence
  • touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, etc.) is an offence
  • hitting the ball with a thrown object (boot, shinguard, etc.) is an offence

The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player outside the penalty area. Inside their penalty area, the goalkeeper cannot be guilty of a handling offence incurring a direct free kick or any related sanction but can be guilty of handling offences that incur an indirect free kick.

Indirect free kick

An indirect free kick is awarded if a player:

  • plays in a dangerous manner
  • impedes the progress of an opponent without any contact being made
  • is guilty of dissent, using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures or other verbal offences
  • prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands or kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it
  • commits any other offence, not mentioned in the Laws, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player

An indirect free kick is awarded if a goalkeeper, inside their penalty area, commits any of the following offences:

  • controls the ball with the hands for more than six seconds before releasing it
  • touches the ball with the hands after:
  • releasing it and before it has touched another player
  • it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a team-mate
  • receiving it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate

A goalkeeper is considered to be in control of the ball when:

  • the ball is between the hands or between the hand and any surface (e.g. ground, own body) or by touching it with any part of the hands or arms except if the ball rebounds from the goalkeeper or the goalkeeper has made a save
  • holding the ball in the outstretched open hand
  • bouncing it on the ground or throwing it in the air

A goalkeeper cannot be challenged by an opponent when in control of the ball with the hands.

PLAYING IN A DANGEROUS MANNER

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.

A scissors or bicycle kick is permissible provided that it is not dangerous to an opponent.

IMPEDING THE PROGRESS OF AN OPPONENT WITHOUT CONTACT

Impeding the progress of an opponent means moving into the opponent’s path to obstruct, block, slow down or force a change of direction when the ball is not within playing distance of either player.

All players have a right to their position on the field of play; being in the way of an opponent is not the same as moving into the way of an opponent.

A player may shield the ball by taking a position between an opponent and the ball if the ball is within playing distance and the opponent is not held off with the arms or body. If the ball is within playing distance, the player may be fairly charged by an opponent.

Disciplinary action

The referee has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field of play for the pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match ends (including kicks from the penalty mark).

If, before entering the field of play at the start of the match, a player commits a sending-off offence, the referee has the authority to prevent the player taking part in the match (see Law 3.6); the referee will report any other misconduct.

A player who commits a cautionable or sending-off offence, either on or off the field of play, against an opponent, a team-mate, a match official or any other person or the Laws of the Game, is disciplined according to the offence.

The yellow card communicates a caution and the red card communicates a sending-off.

Only a player, substitute or substituted player may be shown the red or yellow card.

DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY TO SHOW A CARD

Once the referee has decided to caution or send off a player, play must not be restarted until the sanction has been administered.

ADVANTAGE

If the referee plays the advantage for an offence for which a caution / send off would have been issued had play been stopped, this caution / send off must be issued when the ball is next out of play, except for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity when the player is cautioned for unsporting behaviour.

Advantage should not be applied in situations involving serious foul play, violent conduct or a second cautionable offence unless there is a clear opportunity to score a goal. The referee must send off the player when the ball is next out of play but if the player plays the ball or challenges/interferes with an opponent, the referee will stop play, send off the player and restart with an indirect free kick, unless the player committed a more serious offence.

If a defender starts holding an attacker outside the penalty area and continues holding inside the penalty area, the referee must award a penalty kick.

CAUTIONABLE OFFENCES

A player is cautioned if guilty of:

  • delaying the restart of play
  • dissent by word or action
  • entering, re-entering or deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission
  • failing to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, free kick or throw-in
  • persistent offences (no specific number or pattern of offences constitutes “persistent”)
  • unsporting behaviour
  • entering the referee review area (RRA)
  • excessively using the ‘review’ (TV screen) signal

A substitute or substituted player is cautioned if guilty of:

  • delaying the restart of play
  • dissent by word or action
  • entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
  • unsporting behaviour
  • entering the referee review area (RRA)
  • excessively using the ‘review’ (TV screen) signal

Where two separate cautionable offences are committed (even in close proximity), they should result in two cautions, for example if a player enters the field of play without the required permission and commits a reckless tackle or stops a promising attack with a foul/handball, etc.

CAUTIONS FOR UNSPORTING BEHAVIOUR

There are different circumstances when a player must be cautioned for unsporting behaviour including if a player:

  • attempts to deceive the referee e.g. by feigning injury or pretending to have been fouled (simulation)
  • changes places with the goalkeeper during play or without the referee’s permission
  • commits in a reckless manner a direct free kick offence
  • commits a foul or handles the ball to interfere with or stop a promising attack
  • commits a foul which interferes with or stops a promising attack except where the referee awards a penalty kick for an offence which was an attempt to play the ball
  • denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by an offence which was an attempt to play the ball and the referee awards a penalty kick
  • handles the ball in an attempt to score a goal (whether or not the attempt is successful) or in an unsuccessful attempt to prevent a goal
  • makes unauthorised marks on the field of play
  • plays the ball when leaving the field of play after being given permission to leave
  • shows a lack of respect for the game
  • uses a deliberate trick to pass the ball (including from a free kick) to the goalkeeper with the head, chest, knee etc. to circumvent the Law, whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands
  • verbally distracts an opponent during play or at a restart

CELEBRATION OF A GOAL

Players can celebrate when a goal is scored, but the celebration must not be excessive; choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time-wasting.

Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a cautionable offence but players should return as soon as possible.

A player must be cautioned for:

  • climbing onto a perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner which can cause safety and/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

DELAYING THE RESTART OF PLAY

Referees must caution players who delay the restart of play by:

  • appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving it to a team-mate to take
  • delaying leaving the field of play when being substituted
  • excessively delaying a restart
  • kicking or carrying the ball away, or provoking a confrontation by deliberately touching the ball after the referee has stopped play
  • taking a free kick from the wrong position to force a retake

SENDING-OFF OFFENCES

A player, substitute or substituted player who commits any of the following offences is sent off:

  • denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (except a goalkeeper within their penalty area)
  • denying a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent whose overall movement is towards the offender’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick (unless as outlined below)
  • serious foul play
  • biting or spitting atsomeone
  • violent conduct
  • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • receiving a second caution in the same match
  • entering the video operation room (VOR)

A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the field of play and the technical area.

DENYING A GOAL OR AN OBVIOUS GOAL-SCORING OPPORTUNITY

Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offence the player is sent off wherever the offence occurs.

Where a player commits an offence against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned if the offence was an attempt to play the ball; in all other circumstances (e.g. holding, pulling, pushing, no possibility to play the ball etc.) the offending player must be sent off.

A player, sent off player, substitute or substituted player who enters the field of play without the required referee’s permission and interferes with play or an opponent and denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity is guilty of a sending-off offence

The following must be considered:

  • distance between the offence and the goal
  • general direction of the play
  • likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
  • location and number of defenders

SERIOUS FOUL PLAY

A tackle or challenge that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

VIOLENT CONDUCT

Violent conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball, or against a team-mate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.

In addition, a player who, when not challenging for the ball, deliberately strikes an opponent or any other person on the head or face with the hand or arm, is guilty of violent conduct unless the force used was negligible.

OFFENCES WHERE AN OBJECT (OR THE BALL) IS THROWN

In all cases, the referee takes the appropriate disciplinary action:reckless – caution the offender for unsporting behaviour
using excessive force – send off the offender for violent conduct.

Restart of play after fouls and misconduct

If the ball is out of play, play is restarted according to the previous decision If the ball is in play and a player commits an offence inside the field of play against:

  • an opponent – indirect or direct free kick or penalty kick
  • a team-mate, substitute, substituted or sent off player, team official or a match official – a direct free kick or penalty kick
  • any other person – a dropped ball
  • If, when the ball is in play:
  • a player commits an offence against a match official or an opposing player, substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official outside the field of play or
  • a substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official commits an offence against, or interferes with, an opposing player or match official outside the field of play,

play is restarted with a free kick on the boundary line nearest to where the offence/interference occurred; a penalty kick is awarded if this is a direct free kick offence within the offender’s penalty area

If a player standing on or off the field of play throws an object (including the ball) at an opposing player, substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official, match official or the ball, play is restarted with a direct free kick or penalty kick from the position where the object struck or would have struck the person or the ball. If this position is off the field of play, the free kick is taken on the nearest point on the boundary line; a penalty kick is awarded if this is within the offender’s penalty area.

If an offence is committed outside the field of play, against a player, substitute, substituted player or team official of their own team, play is restarted with an indirect free kick on the boundary line closest to where the offence occurred.

If a player makes contact with the ball with an object (boot, shinguard etc.) held in the hand play is restarted with a direct free kick (or penalty kick).

If a substitute, substituted or sent off player, player temporarily off the field of play or team official throws or kicks an object onto the field of play and it interferes with play, an opponent or match official, play is restarted with a direct free kick (or penalty kick) where the object interfered with play or struck or would have struck the opponent, match official or the ball


LAW 13: FREE KICKS

Types of free kick

Direct and indirect free kicks are awarded to the opposing team of a player, substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official guilty of an offence.

INDIRECT FREE KICK SIGNAL

The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising the arm above the head; this signal is maintained until the kick has been taken and the ball touches another player or goes out of play.

An indirect free kick must be retaken if the referee fails to signal that the kick is indirect and the ball is kicked directly into the goal.

BALL ENTERS THE GOAL

  • if a direct free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is awarded
  • if an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
  • if a direct or indirect free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded

Procedure

All free kicks are taken from the place where the offence occurred, except:

  • indirect free kicks to the attacking team for an offence inside the opponents’ goal area are taken from the nearest point on the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line
  • free kicks to the defending team in their goal area may be taken from anywhere in that area
  • free kicks for offences involving a player entering, re-entering or leaving the field of play without permission are taken from the position of the ball when play was stopped. However, if a player leaves the field of play as part of play and commits an offence against another player, play is restarted with a free kick taken on the boundary line nearest to where the offence occurred; for direct free kick offences a penalty kick is awarded if this is within the offender’s penalty area
  • the Law designates another position (see Laws 3, 11, 12)

The ball:

  • must be stationary and the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player
  • is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves except for a free kick to the defending team in their penalty area where the ball is in play when it is kicked directly out of the penalty area

Until the ball is in play all opponents must remain:

  • at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts
  • outside the penalty area for free kicks inside the opponents’ penalty area

A free kick can be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously.

Feinting to take a free kick to confuse opponents is permitted as part of football.

If a player, while correctly taking a free kick, intentionally kicks the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but not in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.

Offences and sanctions

If, when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance, the kick is retaken unless the advantage can be applied; but if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball intercepts it, the referee allows play to continue. However, an opponent who deliberately prevents a free kick being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.

If, when a free kick is taken quickly by the defending team from inside its penalty area, any opponents are inside the penalty area because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue. If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the free kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it has touched another player, the free kick is retaken.

If, when a free kick is taken by the defending team inside its penalty area, the ball is not kicked directly out of the penalty area the kick is retaken.

If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick is awarded, if the kicker deliberately handles the ball:

  • a direct free kick is awarded
  • a penalty kick is awarded if the offence occurred inside the kicker’s penalty area unless the kicker was the goalkeeper in which case an indirect free kick is awarded

LAW 14: THE PENALTY KICK

A penalty kick is awarded if a player commits a direct free kick offence inside their penalty area or off the field as part of play as outlined in Laws 12 and 13.

A goal may be scored directly from a penalty kick.

Procedure

The ball must be stationary on the penalty mark.

The player taking the penalty kick must be clearly identified.

The defending goalkeeper must remain on the goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

The players other than the kicker and goalkeeper must be:

  • at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark
  • behind the penalty mark
  • inside the field of play
  • outside the penalty area

After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken.

The player taking the penalty kick must kick the ball forward; backheeling is permitted provided the ball moves forward.

The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves.

The kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player.

The penalty kick is completed when the ball stops moving, goes out of play or the referee stops play for any offence.

Additional time is allowed for a penalty kick to be taken and completed at the end of each half of the match or extra time. When additional time is allowed, the penalty kick is completed when, after the kick has been taken, the ball stops moving, goes out of play, is played by any player (including the kicker) other than the defending goalkeeper, or the referee stops play for an offence by the kicker or the kicker’s team. If a defending team player (including the goalkeeper) commits an offence and the penalty is missed/saved, the penalty is retaken.

Offences and sanctions

Once the referee has signalled for a penalty kick to be taken, the kick must be taken. If, before the ball is in play, one of the following occurs:

the player taking the penalty kick or a team-mate infringes the Laws of the Game:

  • if the ball enters the goal, the kick is retaken
  • if the ball does not enter the goal, the referee stops play and restarts with an indirect free kick

except for the following when play will be stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick, regardless of whether or not a goal is scored:

  • a penalty kick is kicked backwards
  • a team-mate of the identified kicker takes the kick; the referee cautions the player who took the kick
  • feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up (feinting in the run-up is permitted); the referee cautions the kicker

the goalkeeper or a team-mate infringes the Laws of the Game:

  • if the ball enters the goal, a goal is awarded
  • if the ball does not enter the goal, the kick is retaken; the goalkeeper is cautioned if responsible for the offence

a player of both teams infringes the Laws of the Game, the kick is retaken unless a player commits a more serious offence (e.g. illegal feinting); if both the goalkeeper and kicker commit an offence at the same time:

  • if the kick is missed or saved, the kick is retaken and both players cautioned
  • if the kick is scored, the goal is disallowed, the kicker is cautioned and play restarts with an indirect free kick to the defending teamIf, after the penalty kick has been taken:

    the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player:

  • an indirect free kick (or direct free kick for deliberate hand ball) is awarded the ball is touched by an outside agent as it moves forward:
  • the kick is retaken unless the ball is going into the goal and the interference does not prevent the goalkeeper or defending player playing the ball, in which case the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal (even if contact was made with the ball) unless the ball enters the opponents’ goal

the ball rebounds into the field of play from the goalkeeper, the crossbar or the goalposts and is then touched by an outside agent:

  • the referee stops play
  • play is restarted with a dropped ball at the position where it touched the outside agent

Summary table

Outcome of the penalty kick


LAW 15: THE THROW IN

A throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the player who last touched the ball when the whole of the ball passes over the touchline, on the ground or in the air.

A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in:

  • if the ball enters the opponents’ goal – a goal kick is awarded
  • if the ball enters the thrower’s goal – a corner kick is awarded

Procedure

At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower must:

  • stand facing the field of play
  • have part of each foot on the touchline or on the ground outside the touchline
  • throw the ball with both hands from behind and over the head from the point where it left the field of play

All opponents must stand at least 2 m (2 yds) from the point at which the throw-in is taken.

The ball is in play when it enters the field of play. If the ball touches the ground before entering, the throw-in is retaken by the same team from the same position. If the throw-in is not taken correctly it is retaken by the opposing team.

If a player, while correctly taking a throw-in, intentionally throws the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but neither in a careless nor a reckless manner nor using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.

The thrower must not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.

Offences and sanctions

If, after the ball is in play, the thrower touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick is awarded; if the thrower deliberately handles the ball:

  • a direct free kick is awarded
  • a penalty kick is awarded if the offence occurred inside the thrower’s penalty area unless the ball was handled by the defending team’s goalkeeper in which case an indirect free kick is awarded

An opponent who unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower (including moving closer than 2 m (2 yds) to the place where the throw-in is to be taken) is cautioned for unsporting behaviour and if the throw-in has been taken an indirect free kick is awarded.

For any other offence the throw-in is taken by a player of the opposing team.


LAW 16: THE GOAL KICK

A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the attacking team, and a goal is not scored.

A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team; if the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal a corner kick is awarded to the opponents if the ball left the penalty area.

Procedure

  • The ball must be stationary and is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team
  • The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area
  • Opponents must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play

Offences and sanctions

If the ball does not leave the penalty area or is touched by a player before it leaves the penalty area the kick is retaken.

If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick is awarded; if the kicker deliberately handles the ball:

  • a direct free kick is awarded
  • a penalty kick is awarded if the offence occurred inside the kicker’s penalty area unless the kicker was the goalkeeper in which case an indirect free kick is awarded

If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the goal kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it has touched another player, the goal kick is retaken.

If a player enters the penalty area before the ball is in play and fouls or is fouled by an opponent, the goal kick is retaken and the offender may be cautioned or sent off depending on the offence.

For any other offence the kick is retaken.


LAW 17: THE CORNER KICK

A corner kick is awarded when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, on the ground or in the air, having last touched a player of the defending team, and a goal is not scored.

A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing team; if the ball directly enters the kicker’s goal a corner kick is awarded to the opponents.

Procedure

  • The ball must be placed in the corner area
  • The ball must be stationary and is kicked by a player of the attacking team
  • The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area
  • The corner flagpost must not be moved
  • Opponents must remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play

Offences and sanctions

If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player an indirect free kick is awarded; if the kicker deliberately handles the ball:

  • a direct free kick is awarded
  • a penalty kick is awarded if the offence occurred inside the kicker’s penalty area unless the kicker was the goalkeeper in which case an indirect free kick is awarded

If a player, while correctly taking a corner kick, intentionally kicks the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but not in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.

For any other offence the kick is retaken.

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