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Effective for the Fall 2019 season, there are several major changes to the Laws of the Game that apply to both Travel and Club Excel games.

I realize that it will take some time for Refs, Coaches, Players and Spectators to be aware and UNDERSTAND the changes.  I am asking ALL to be patient as we work through the learning curve. Eventually we will reach the point where these are applied consistently. Fortunately, most of these are straightforward.  

Here is a link to the official rule changes, along with some videos. You may or may not find this helpful. As other video examples become available, I will post them.


1. Coin toss- Simplified.  Team that wins has choice of side, OR to kick off with the ball.

2. Goal Kicks- As before, all attackers must leave the Penalty Area for before a Goal kick.  It used to be that the ball was not in play until it had left the Penalty area.  Now, the ball is in play once it is kicked and moves. Attackers can then come into the box to play it.  (Please review this one in your pregame safety check in with players and coaches. Tell them that if any of the other new rules are involved, you will deal explain it then.)

3. Substitutions- At the professional level, you will see players leaving the field at the nearest point.  However, for safety reasons at Youth matches, there is no change to substitutions. (We don’t want a young kid walking off the field right in front of spectators.  Let’s not potentially invite unwanted interaction!)

4. Wall- At a Free kick with a wall of 3 or more defenders- Opponents must be 1 yard separated from any defender in the wall.  1 yard in front, behind, or to the side is required. This eliminates jostling, pushing and shoving prior to the kick.

5. Penalty Kick-  Keeper must have at least one foot on the end line at all times prior to the kicker making contact with the ball.

6. Drop Ball- When the game is stopped for certain situations (Injury, ball hitting referee, dog on the field, etc.) we restart with a Drop Ball.  ALL DROP BALLS ARE NOW ONE SIDED. This is to avoid “Manufactured” restarts going awry and to speed up the game. (No more play it back to their keeper.)  All opponents must be 4 yards away from the player the ball is being dropped to. Award the drop ball to the team that last had possession before you blew the whistle.  EXCEPTION- Any time you stop play when the ball is inside the Penalty Area, we always award the ball to the Goalkeeper. Also, 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

7. Handball- FIFA is trying to specify more exactly when a handling violation should be called and when it should not.

It is a definitely a handling offense when a player:

Deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving it towards the ball.

·         Gains possession/control after it has touched their hand/arm AND THEN:

o   Immediately Scores in the Opponents goal

o   Quickly Creates a Goal Scoring OPPORTUNITY

·         Scores in the Opponents goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental.

  It is usually an offence if a player:

• touches the ball with their hand/arm when:

• the hand/arm position has made their body unnaturally bigger/wider.

• the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not usually an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

• directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)

• directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close

•if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger

• when a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body


8. Yellow and Red Cards for coaches-  When dealing with misconduct by coaches, we used to use the 3 step, ASK, TELL, SEND off process.  We are still essentially using the same process, but we are issuing them cards so that all can clearly understand what has taken place.

So, if in the past you ASKED a coach to curb their behavior, we now consider that a verbal WARNING.  If their behavior is beyond the warning stage, then instead of Telling them, we Caution them with a Yellow card.  If their behavior does not change, then we Send them off by displaying a RED card. The idea is to communicate misconduct infractions for coaches in a similar way that we do for players.  For now, just think of it this way, if a coach reaches the threshold where in the past you had to TELL them to stop, instead, issue a Yellow Card.  If the behavior warrants a dismissal, then show them a RED CARD.

Here is the FIFA list of specific actions by coaches that warrant a yellow or red card.

Note: Where an offence is committed and the offender cannot be identified, the senior team coach present in the technical area will receive the sanction.

 Verbal Warning: The following offences should usually result in a warning; repeated or blatant offences should result in a caution or sending-off:

• entering the field of play in a respectful/non-confrontational manner

• failing to cooperate with a match official e.g. ignoring an instruction/request from assistant referee or the fourth official

• minor/low-level disagreement (by word or action) with a decision

• occasionally leaving the confines of the technical area without committing another offence


 Caution: Cautionable offences include (but are not limited to):

• clearly/persistently not respecting the confines of their team’s technical area

• delaying the restart of play by their team

• deliberately entering the technical area of the opposing team (non-confrontational)

• dissent by word or action including:

• throwing/kicking drinks bottles or other objects

• gestures which show a lack of respect for the match official(s) e.g. sarcastic clapping

• entering the referee review area (RRA)

• excessively/persistently gesturing for a red or yellow card

• excessively showing the TV signal for a VAR ‘review’

• gesturing or acting in a provocative or inflammatory manner

• persistent unacceptable behavior (including repeated warning offences)

• showing a lack of respect for the game


Sending-off: Sending-off offences include (but are not limited to):

• delaying the restart of play by the opposing team e.g. holding onto the ball, kicking the ball away, obstructing the movement of a player

• deliberately leaving the technical area to:

• show dissent towards, or remonstrate with, a match official

• act in a provocative or inflammatory manner

• enter the opposing technical area in an aggressive or confrontational manner

• deliberately throwing/kicking an object onto the field of play

• entering the field of play to:

• confront a match official (including at half-time and full-time)

•interfere with play, an opposing player or match official

• entering the video operation room (VOR)

• physical or aggressive behaviour (including spitting or biting) towards an opposing player, substitute, team official, match official, spectator or any other person (e.g. ball boy/girl, security or competition official etc.)

•receiving a second caution in the same match

• using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures

• using unauthorized electronic or communication equipment and/or behaving in an inappropriate manner as the result of using electronic or communication equipment

• violent conduct