LAW 2: THE BALL
Qualities and Measurements
All balls must be:
- 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
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 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
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)
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.
The use of return substitutions is only permitted in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football, subject to the agreement of the national football association.
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.
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
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.
The compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate items:
- a shirt with sleeves
- 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
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.
- 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.
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.
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)
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:
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.
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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
- 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).
- Red and yellow cards
- Notebook (or other means of keeping a record of the match)
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.
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.
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
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.
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