2019-20 Laws of the Game Changes and Clarifications
Substitutions Law 3
- A player who is being substituted must leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline/goal line (unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly/immediately at the halfway line or a different point because of safety, injury etc.).
- Players must stand at the halfway line for the referee to give them permission to come on to the field.
- To stop a player who is being substituted ‘wasting’ time by leaving slowly at the halfway line (which is not a Law requirement) the player must leave at the nearest point (as with an injury) unless the referee indicates otherwise, e.g. if the player can leave quickly at the halfway line, there is a safety/security issue or the player leaves on a stretcher. The player must go immediately to the technical area or dressing room to avoid problems with substitutes, spectators, or the math officials. A player who infringes the spirit of this Law should be sanctioned for unsporting behavior i.e. delaying the restart of play.
Player Equipment Law 4
- Multi-colored/patterned undershirts are allowed if they are the same as the sleeve of the main shirt.
- Manufacturers now make patterned undershirts whose sleeves are the same as the main shirt sleeve; these should be allowed as they help match officials’ decision-making.
Team Officials Laws 5 & 12
- A team official guilty of misconduct will be shown a Yellow Card (caution) or Red Card (sending-off); if the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach who is in the technical area at the time will receive the YC/RC. Law 12 will have a list of YC/RC offences.
- The experiment with YC/RC for misconduct by team officials has been successful and has revealed many benefits at all levels, including for young referees dealing with ‘difficult’ adult coaches. If the offender cannot be identified, the senior team official (usually the main coach) in the technical area will receive the YC/RC (as the person responsible for the other team officials).
Medical Breaks Law 7
- Difference between ‘cooling’ breaks (90 secs — 3 mins) and ‘drinks’ breaks (max 1 min).
- In the interests of player safety, competition rules may allow, in certain weather conditions (e.g. high humidity and temperatures), ‘cooling’ breaks (from ninety seconds to three minutes) to allow the body’s temperature to fall; they are different from ‘drinks’ breaks (maximum one minute) which are for rehydration.
Kickoff Law 8
- The team that wins the toss can now choose to take the kick-off or which goal to attack (previously they only had the choice of which goal to attack).
- Recent Law changes have made kick-off more dynamic (e.g. a goal can be scored directly from kick-off) so captain winning the toss often ask to take the kick-off.
Dropped Ball Laws 8 & 9
- If play is stopped inside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for the goalkeeper only.
- If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the point of the last touch.
- In all cases, all the other players (of both teams) must be at least 4m (4.5 Yards) away.
- If the ball touches the referee (or another match official) and goes into the goal, team possession changes or a promising attack starts, a dropped ball is awarded.
- The current dropped ball procedure often leads to a ‘manufactured’ restart which is ‘exploited’ unfairly (e.g. kicking the ball out for a throw in deep in the opponents’ half) or an aggressive confrontation. Returning the ball to the team that last played it restores what was lost when play stopped, except in the penalty area where it is simpler to return the ball to the goalkeeper. To prevent that team gaining an unfair advantage, all players of both teams, except the players receiving the ball, must be at least 4m (4.5 yards) away.
- It can be very unfair if a team gains an advantage or scores a goal because the ball has hit a match official, especially a referee.
Goal Celebration Law 12
- A Yellow Card for an “illegal” celebration (e.g. removing shirt) remains even if the goal is disallowed.
- Cautions for inappropriate goal celebrations apply even if the goal is disallowed as the impact (safety, image of the game etc.) is the same as of the goal was awarded.
Quick Free Kick and Yellow/Red Cards Law 12
- If the referee is about to issue a YC/RC but the non-offending team takes the free kick quickly and creates a goal-scoring opportunity, the referee can delay the YC/RC until the next stoppage if the offending team was not distracted by the referee.
- Occasionally, an attack is stopped by a cautionable (YC) or sending-off (RC) offense and the attacking team takes a quick free kick which restores the ‘lost’ attack; it is clearly ‘unfair’ if this ‘new’ attack is stopped to issue the YC/RC. However, if the referee has distracted the offending team by starting the YC/RC procedure, the quick free kick is not allowed. For a Denial Of Goal Scoring Opportunity (DOGSO) offense, the player will be cautioned (YC) and not sent-off (RC) because the attack was re-started (as when advantage is applied fora DOGSO offense).
Handball Law 12
- The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:
- The ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm.
- A player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity.
- The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger.
- The ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm).
- The following will not usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the above situation:
- The ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near.
- The ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger.
- If a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger).
- If the goalkeeper attempts to clear a throw-in or a deliberate kick from a team-mate but the clearance fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball.
- Soccer does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental).
- Soccer expects a player to be penalized for handball if they gain possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage.
- It is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling.
- Having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a natural position and a player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when sliding.
- If the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by, onto the hands/arm it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball.
- When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball, so if the ‘clearance’ attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offence.
Free Kick Law 13
- When there is a ‘wall’ of three or more defenders, the attackers are not allowed within 1 meter (1 yard) of the wall; an attacker less than 1 meter (1 yard) from the ‘wall’ when the kick is taken will be penalized with an indirect free kick.
- When the defending team takes a free kick in their own penalty area, the ball is in play once the kick is taken; it does not have to leave the penalty area before it can be played.
- In an indirect free kick, once the kick has been taken and it is clear that a goal will not be scored from the kick, there is no more need for a signal.
- The attackers standing very close to, or in, the defensive ‘wall’ at a free kick often create management problems and waste time. There is no legitimate tactical justification for attackers to be in the ‘wall’ and their presence is against the ‘spirit of the game’ and often damages the image of the game.
- The ball not having to leave the penalty area has produced faster and more constructive restarts. Opponents must remain outside the penalty area and at least 9.15 meters away until the ball is in play. The same change has been made to the goal kick.
Penalty Kicks Law 14
- The team’s penalty taker can have (quick) treatment/assessment and then take the kick.
- The goalkeeper must not be touching the goalposts/crossbar/nets; they must not be moving.
- The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line when the kick is taken; cannot stand behind the line.
- It is unfair if the kicker needs assessment/treatment and then has to leave the field and cannot take the penalty kick.
- The referee must not signal for the penalty kick to be taken if the goalkeeper is touching the goalposts, crossbar or net, or if they are moving e.g. the goalkeeper has kicked/shaken them.
- Goalkeepers are not permitted to stand in front of or behind the line. Allowing the goalkeeper to have only one foot touching the goal line (or, if jumping, in line with the goal line) when the penalty kick is taken is a more practical approach as it is easier to identify if both feet are not on the line. As the kicker can ‘stutter’ in the run, it is reasonable that the goalkeeper can take one step in anticipation of the kick.
- Goal Celebrations.
Goal Kick Law 16
- The ball is in play once the kick is taken; it can be played before leaving the penalty area.
- Does this change affect the buildout line?
- No, the ball is considered in play when it has been kicked and has clearly moved. Players must still remain behind the build out line until the ball is considered in play. If a team chooses to take a goal kick or a free kick quickly, they are doing so at their own risk as the normal build out line rules still apply.
- The experiment that at a goal kick the ball is in play once it is kick, and does not have to leave the penalty area, has created a faster and more dynamic/constructive restart to the game. It has reduced the time ‘lost/wasted/ including stopping the tactic of ‘wasting’ time when a defender deliberately plays the ball before it leaved the penalty area knowing that all that will happen is the goal kick will be retaken. Opponents must remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.