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  2. RULES, REGS and REALITY This workshop, through a series of specific situations, questions and answers, presents a number of Law interpretations that are widely accepted but may, or may not, be found in the Laws of the Game.

  3. RULES, REGS, and REALITY • We’ll have some examples of Laws that are not interpreted exactly as written. • Accurate Law interpretation, and application, will improve the quality of your officiating. • This, in turn, will enhance the enjoyment of the players, the coaches, the spectators and, equally important, that of you, the referee. • We’ll open by briefly discussing the resources available to you.

  4. RULES, REGSand REALITY RULES • When we talk about ‘Soccer Rules’, what are we referring to? The Laws of the Game. Sometimes called the ‘FIFA Laws of the Game’ • What organization, at its annual general meeting each February or March, reviews the Laws and makes any revisions the members feel necessary? The International Football Association Board (IFAB)

  5. RULES, REGS and REALITY Raise your hand if you can tell the class just one of the five football associations that is a member of the IFAB. • The Football Association (England), • The Scottish Football Association, • The Football Association of Wales, • The Irish Football Association (Northern Ireland), and • The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA)

  6. RULES, REGS and REALITY • Each of the four British associations has one vote. FIFA, with their four votes, represents over 200 other football associations throughout the world. • For a proposed change in the Laws to be approved it must receive the support of at least three-quarters of those present and entitled to vote. • A minimum of four members, one of which must be FIFA, must be present.

  7. RULES, REGS and REALITY Where can we find the current official soccer rules? In the Laws of the Game, a booklet published each summer by FIFA. • These are available from the AYSO supply center or for download from

  8. RULES, REGS and REALITY How many of you have a current edition of the Law book? If you have your Law book with you, please hold it up so we can see what it looks like. Does your copy have the AYSO logo on the cover? Does it state “Printed for the American Youth Soccer Organization with the permission of FIFA”?

  9. RULES, REGS and REALITY Since 1984 AYSO has had FIFA’s permission to reprint the Law Book. The AYSO edition always contains the exact same text, figures and format as the booklet published by FIFA. But it also has some additional information. We’ll talk about that shortly.

  10. RULES, REGS and REALITY FIFA permits some modifications to the Laws for youth soccer. Where can we find AYSO’s modifications? In the AYSO edition of the Laws of the Game. For example, in Law 7 (‘The Duration of the Match’), you can find AYSO’s rules giving the length of each half for each age group.

  11. RULES, REGS and REALITY The currentAYSO edition of the FIFA Law Book contains additional competition rules that do not pertain to a particular Law. For example, which player gets credit for a ‘quarter’ played when a substitution is made for an injury? (Only the injured player gets credit.)

  12. RULES, REGS and REALITY • FACTS: • a FIFA Law Book is good. • an AYSO edition of the FIFA Law Book is better. • if you don’t have one, you need to get one!

  13. RULES, REGS and REALITY We’ve talked about the official soccer “RULES” but, what about the “REGULATIONS”? Does AYSO have any additional Rules & Regs that we must know to properly referee or coach a team? The AYSO National Rules & Regulations (AYSO R&R)

  14. RULES, REGS and REALITY Where can you get a copy of the complete AYSO National Rules & Regulations? There are TWO places: • The AYSO Supply Center • Online at

  15. RULES, REGS and REALITY Let’s say that you’ve memorized all the Laws and the National Rules & Regulations. Are there any other sources of information you need to be familiar with? There are several: • The Law Book itself • USSF’s Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game • USSF’s Guide to Procedures • AYSO’s Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Parents, and Other Volunteers

  16. RULES, REGS and REALITY FIFA LAW BOOK The Law Book contains more than just the Laws and the Decisions of the International Board. What are some of the topics immediately following Law 17 in the Law Book?

  17. RULES, REGS and REALITY There are several: • Procedures to Determine the Winner of a Match or Home-and-Away • The Technical Area • The Fourth Official • Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees • Rules of the IFAB

  18. RULES, REGS and REALITY FIFA’s Q&A BOOK How many of you remember FIFA’s “Questions and Answers on the Laws of the Game?” FIFA’s FORMER Q&A BOOK Beginning in 2004 and until this 2008, FIFA published the IFAB’s Questions and Answers in the Law Book. The FIFA Q&A Book is now history.

  19. RULES, REGS and REALITY FIFA’s NEW LAW BOOK In the current Law Book, the “Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees” contains much of the information, on a Law-by-Law basis, that was previously in the Q&A Book. Also included in “Interpretation” are the following: • Referee & AR positioning diagrams • Referee & (new additional) AR signals • Offside diagrams

  20. RULES, REGS and REALITY USSF’s Advice to Referees on the Laws of the Game This is not a replacement for the Laws of the Game but is intended to provide game officials with USSF’s interpretations of the Laws. AYSO is a member of USSF and, as such, consider this booklet as authoritative. Should there be conflict, the Laws of the Game take precedence. It is available for download at

  21. RULES, REGS and REALITY AYSO’s Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Parents and Other Volunteers • This is a particularly important document for coaches, who are often unfamiliar with the other resources we’ve discussed. • The ‘Guidance’ manual is a reference source of supporting materials and is intended to supplement the instruction provided at AYSO referee and coach education courses.

  22. RULES, REGS and REALITY AYSO’s Guidance for Referees, Coaches, Parents and Other Volunteers • The main sections include: • Basic overview of the Laws of The Game • AYSO National Rules & Regulations • Short Sided Game Guide • Frequently Asked Questions • AYSO’s Mission, Vision and Six Philosophies

  23. RULES, REGS and REALITY Here are some examples from “Frequently Asked Questions: • Who is responsible for verifying a Participation Release Form before allowing a player to participate in a game following a known serious injury or sickness which required medical attention? • Coaches must verify this and provide a copy to the Regional Commissioner and/or Regional Safety Director. It is not the referee’s responsibility.

  24. RULES, REGS and REALITY • May players drink water during a game? • Yes - during a stoppage in play but only on the touch line. • May Regions adopt local playing rules outside of FIFA and AYSO rules? • No – • Why doesn’t AYSO teach or approve of referees using the Dual Referee System? • We could spend the next half-hour on this - but we won’t.

  25. RULES, REGS and REALITY Let’s look at some questions and see whether or not we can answer them directly from the Laws and their corresponding IFAB Decisions. And if not, where can we find the authoritative answers?

  26. RULES, REGS and REALITY A defender inside his own penalty area hears a whistle blown by a spectator and, thinking it was the referee’s, picks up the ball. What should the referee do? FIFA ‘Interpretation’ “If a spectator blows a whistle and the referee considers the whistle interfered with play … the referee must stop the match and restart the play with a dropped ball…”

  27. RULES, REGS and REALITY The Blue team took a goal kick before all the red players had left the penalty, so I had the kick retaken. The coach of the Blue team came unglued. I quoted Law 16, which says, “opponents remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play”. What was the coach’s problem – I was following the Laws of the game?

  28. RULES, REGS and REALITY AYSO Guidance (Law 16): “As with free kicks, the team taking the goal kick may elect to take a quick kick before all of the opposing team has retreated outside the penalty area as required.”

  29. RULES, REGS and REALITY Pre-game player inspection: A player is wearing a padded headband her parents bought for her, believing it provides protection from head injury. Do I allow the player to play or must she remove the headband?

  30. RULES, REGS and REALITY FIFA ‘Interpretation’ “Modern protective equipment such as headgear, facemasks, and knee and arm protectors made of soft, lightweight padded material are not considered dangerous and are therefore permitted.”

  31. RULES, REGS and REALITY During player inspection before the game you see that the goalkeepers’ shirts are the same color. Neither of them has another shirt to change into. Law 4 says, “Each goalkeeper wears colours that distinguish him from the other players, the referee and the assistant referees”. What do you do?

  32. RULES, REGS and REALITY If indeed no one can provide another shirt, let them play, even if their shirts are the same color. Where does it say you may do that? FIFA ‘Interpretation’ “If the jerseys of the two goalkeepers are the same color and neither has another jersey to change into, the referee allows play to begin.”

  33. RULES, REGS and REALITY I overheard a Red player say something to a Blue player but only caught the last two words “…your sister.” The Blue player immediately head butted the Red player. Nothing more occurred between the two players. Was I correct in red-carding both players?

  34. RULES, REGS and REALITY No, only the Blue player. For such a violent reaction to occur, the Red team player almost certainly deserved a send-off. However, you may only sanction what you or one of your officiating team heard or saw.

  35. RULES, REGS and REALITY Two teammates attempt to play a ball, one by trying to head it and the other by trying to kick it. You blow your whistle and stop play. Do you call ‘dangerous play’ and give an indirect free kick to the opposing team?

  36. RULES, REGS and REALITY No. Law 12 DOES state that an IFK is awarded to the opposing team if a player, in the opinion of the referee, “plays in a dangerous manner”. USSF 12.13 states: “Playing in a manner considered to be dangerous when only a teammate is nearby is not a foul.”

  37. RULES, REGS and REALITY However, if play is stopped for a dangerous situation involving only TEAMMATES, play must be restarted with a dropped ball. Since there was no disadvantage to the opposing team, it would be unfair to give them a free kick.

  38. RULES, REGS and REALITY You’ve had to speak with a coach about his negative comments to players, reminding him that his sideline participation must be limited to comments that are positive, instructional, and/or encouraging. Later in the game you hear him swearing at one of his players. You stopped play, showed him the red card and sent him off. Did you take the appropriate action?

  39. RULES, REGS and REALITY The earlier verbal warning – YES Dismissing him from the field and immediate surroundings – YES Displaying the red card – NO Law 12, Disciplinary Sanctions states, “Only a player or substitute or substituted player may be shown the red or yellow card.” USSF Advice 5.10: “…such persons may be warned regarding their behavior or expelled from the field of play and its immediate area.”

  40. RULES, REGS and REALITY Goalkeeper substitution: The new keeper is wearing long pants from his warm-up suit, which he was not wearing when you checked his team prior to kick-off. Law 4 speaks of shirts, shorts, stockings, shinguards and footwear, but makes no mention of long pants. Does he have to remove them before he can play?

  41. RULES, REGS and REALITY No. FIFA ‘Interpretations’ “Goalkeepers may wear track suit bottoms as part of their basic equipment.”

  42. RULES, REGS and REALITY You recently noted that Law 8 (The Start and Restart of Play) does not require you to blow your whistle for a kick-off. Law 8 simply states, “the referee gives a signal”. So you decide to demonstrate your Law knowledge, and you start your next game with a hand signal and say, “Go ahead and kick it.” Is this cool, or what?

  43. RULES, REGS and REALITY Not cool. FIFA Interpretations (“Referee Signals – Use of whistle”) says a whistle is needed to start play.

  44. RULES, REGS and REALITY Red player 7 is in an offside position near the touchline when Red player 9 takes a shot that deflects off the Blue goalkeeper into goal. Not Offside/Goal or Offside/No Goal? Not Offside/Goal Law 11: Player 7 was neither interfering with play, interfering with an opponent, nor gaining an advantage from being in an offside position.

  45. RULES, REGS and REALITY Red player 7 is in an offside position in the penalty area when Red player 9 takes a shot that deflects off the Blue team’s goalkeeper to red player 7. Offside or Not Offside? Offside Offside Diagram 10, ‘Interpretation’ Player 7 gained an advantage from being in an offside position. Offside is the correct answer, but does it agree with the wording of Law 11?

  46. RULES, REGS and REALITY Law 11: “A player in an offside position is only penalized if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by: • interfering with play; or • interfering with an opponent; or • gaining an advantage by being in that position” The Law really should say that you judge the offside position of the player at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, and then wait to see if he subsequently becomes involved in active play.

  47. RULES, REGS and REALITY I read in Law 4, decision 1, that a player removing his jersey to reveal slogans or advertising will be “sanctioned by the competition organizer.” It says nothing about the referee cautioning a player who removes his shirt, but I’ve seen MLS referees cautioning for it. Am I supposed to caution a player who takes his shirt off while celebrating a goal?

  48. RULES, REGS and REALITY Yes: FIFA ‘Interpretations’ regarding “Celebration of a goal”: A player must be cautioned if he “removes his shirt or covers his head with his shirt.”

  49. RULES, REGS and REALITY I was taught to blow my whistle twice for halftime. I’ve even heard World Cup referees blow twice. But I can’t find any reason for two blasts. Is this a RULE, a REG or just REALITY? Reality. The late Ken Aston, former Chief Instructor for FIFA, as a referee started the practice just for a little fun. Like many of his innovations (including the red and yellow cards) it soon became part of the game.

  50. RULES, REGS and REALITY As halftime approached, with the ball somewhere near midfield, Mr. Aston would wait for some minor contact, then blow his whistle once. Players would look to see what the call was, only to see him pointing toward the center of the field as he blew it a second time. Before you try waiting to blow the whistle like Ken did, keep in mind this was at a time when most coaches and spectators didn’t have digital watches.