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Jul, 2021

Referee Corner with Adrian Lee

IFAB (International Football Association Board) got busy over the past 2 years with a bunch of changes, tweaks to the Laws of the Game.  IFAB, not FIFA is responsible for the Laws.  Your local league, association, or tournament is allowed to modify the laws to suit their needs.  That is why U12 and younger soccer, which plays with less than 11 players on smaller fields, is known as Modified Soccer.  However, most of these changes are adopted by all leagues, associations and tournaments.


IFAB is made up of the FA (England's Football Association), FA Wales, Scottish FA, Irish FA (Northern Ireland), and FIFA.  The Brits were the first to codify the game as we know it about 170 years ago.  It's their game the world has adopted as what we now know as soccer in the US.  Hence, their continued and significant role in determining the Laws.  The rest of the world gets a say via FIFA's membership on the Board.


I will highlight the major changes here, but finish with links to IFAB's website for the full list of changes.


1) Handball.  The Laws about this offense have changed significantly the past two years.  In 2019/2020 they attempted to define certain situations that would not be considered an offense.  In 2021/2022 they struck all of that, and returned it to more general description, and more of a judgement call for the referee to make.  Examples: Hand above the shoulder is no longer an automatic offense.  Hand under body for support while falling is no longer an automatic OK.  Contact with Hand immediately after legal contact with Player or another Player that is near by, is no longer automatically considered OK.  Things that did change and remain are:

  • The Hand is now described as any point from the arm pit to the tips of the fingers.  Imagine a short short-sleeve t-shirt (not a tank top).  The rounded top of the shoulder is no longer considered a part of the hand.
  • Any contact with the "Hand" by an attacking player that directly results in a goal is an offense, and results in a direct free kick (DFK) for the defending team.  It no longer says or allows Attacker to create a goal scoring opportunity.  Accidental contact by attacking Player has to either result in a goal, or that Player is immediately able to score a goal.
  • Contact with the Hand when the Player's Hand is in a position that makes the body unnaturally bigger.  This is basically a return to the old rule, and returns it to a judgement call for the referee to make.  However, in practice I would expect the referees who have been using the guidance and Laws from the past two years, will likely continue to do so.  However, if they do not, it is not worth debating it with them since in the end it is all a judgement call.

2) Substitutions: The Player being substituted must leave the field of play by the most direct route and not from the halfway line near the technical area if judged by the Referee that to do so would waste time.  Referee is allowed to make exceptions for player safety, or if the Player is being taken off the field on a stretcher.


3) Match Officials can be shown cards.  Previously, referees were not allowed to display yellow or red cards at Match Officials (coaches, trainers, etc), even if they had been Cautioned (yellow), or Ejected (red).  This is now allowed.


4) Dropped Ball Restart:  This is no longer a challenged restart.  Whomever the referee decides should retain possession of the ball will be invited to receive the ball when dropped.  All other Players, both Attacking and Defending, must be 4.5 yards away when dropped.  When a Dropped Ball Restart occurs within the Penalty Area the Keeper will be invited to pick it up.


5) Kick Offs.  The team that wins the coin toss can now choose either possession or attacking direction.  Previously, winning team was awarded attacking direction and loser awarded possession.


6) Free Kicks:   When defenders create a wall of 3 or more Players, the Attacking team can not be within a yard of the wall.  If an Attacking Player infringes this Law the Defending team will be awarded an Indirect Free Kick (IDFK).


7) All Kicks Out:  All kicks taken by the defending team from within their Penalty Area are now in play when touched, not when the ball leaves the Penalty Area.  This includes Goal Kicks, Direct Free Kicks and Indirect Free Kicks.  Attacking Players must remain outside Penalty or ten yards away which ever is greater, unless Defending team chooses to restart before Attacking Players can leave the area.


8) Penalty Kicks.  Keepers are given one warning for infringing the Laws.  They are Caution for 2nd.  Keepers are not penalized if kick results in a goal, or misses the goal, or deflects directly off the goal and back into play.  If both the Kicker and Keeper infringe at the same time, it is the Kicker that is Cautioned, and restart is an IDFK out.


There are many more smaller tweaks to things like what to do with a deflated ball, or what is allowed for under garments, or what constitutes Added Time.  If you want to know it ALL.


If you want a more thorough list of the changes to the Laws, and/or explanations, please go here:https://www.theifab.com/law-changes/latest/


If you want to read the most current copy of the Laws of the Game (all 17 laws), please go here:https://www.theifab.com/laws/latest/the-field-of-play/#field-markings


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Highline Premier Football Club

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Burien, Washington 98166

Phone: 206-825-0313
Email: [email protected]

Highline Premier Football Club

126 SW 148th Street, Suite C100 - Box 187
Burien, Washington 98166

Phone: 206-825-0313
Email: [email protected]
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