American Youth Soccer Organization 
Soccer Rules - FAQ  

---Soccer Rules FAQ Index---


Q. Can players wear protective gear?

A. Directly from The Laws of the Game

A player may use equipment other than the basic equipment provided that its sole purpose is to protect him physically and it poses no danger to him or any other player.

All items of clothing or equipment other than the basic equipment must be inspected by the referee and determined not to be dangerous. 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.

In view of the new technology that has made sports spectacles much safer, both for the wearer and for other players, referees should show tolerance when authorizing their use, particularly for younger players.

If an item of clothing or equipment that has been inspected at the start of a match and determined not to be dangerous becomes dangerous or is used in a dangerous manner during the match, its use must no longer be allowed.

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Q. Who is authorized to referee an AYSO game?

A. Only AYSO trained and Safe Haven certified referees (AYSO Referees) are authorized to officiate an AYSO game, with the following exceptions:

  1. If there are no AYSO Referees available, an officially trained and Safe Haven certified coach or assistant coach (AYSO Coach) may officiate the game. (Region 85 only)
  2. An AYSO Referee acting as Center Referee, may appoint one or two Club Linesmen to assist in determining whether or not the ball has left the field.
  3. A Club Linesman's duties are strictly limited to indicating to the Center Referee when the ball has entirely left the field of play.
    • Club Linesmen are not game officials, are not permitted on the field of play during a match, and have no authority concerning the match.
    • Therefore, Club Linesmen do not need to be trained, or Safe Haven certified.
  4. In all divisions, U6-U19, if there is only one AYSO Referee available, that referee must officiate the game as the Center Referee appointing Club Linesmen if required. In this circumstance, coaches who are not also AYSO Referees, may act as Club Linesmen, but are not authorized to officiate the game.
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Q. A direct kick was awarded just outside the penalty area near the penalty arc. The attacking team quickly positioned 3 players 10 yards from the ball on the most direct line for the ball to travel to the near post and then knelt down. The defensive team was slow to set up their wall and complained to the referee that the attacking team was interfering with them. The kick was taken while the players were complaining. The ball passed over the heads of the kneeling players and curved into the goal. What should the referee do?

A. The defending team has no "right" to set up a wall anywhere on the field. Their only "right" at free kicks is to give the kicking team a minimum of ten yards from the place where the ball will go into play. There is no requirement that players on either team be standing at a free kick. Thus, kneeling is permitted. And yes, the defending team could have placed players for its wall behind the kneeling players.

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Q. An indirect kick was awarded just inside the penalty area. A player (A) from the attacking team placed the ball where the referee indicated and was then joined by two teammates (B) and (C) who stood between the defending players and the ball, conferring with (A) and shielding the defending team's view of the ball.

While the defense was setting up a wall (A) tapped the ball lightly, moving it backwards slightly from its resting position. (A) and (B) then turned and walked toward the wall as if moving to pre-planned positions. (B) exploded forward, dribbling the ball to a better shooting position and scored.

What should the referee do?

A. The kicking team is permitted to practice deception of this sort at any free kick or corner kick, where the only requirement is that the ball be kicked and moves. Kicked in this case extends to toe tapping the ball even the slightest amount, but not to stepping on the top of the ball. The play you describe is perfectly legal, provided that the player who dribbles the ball away and shoots on goal is not the same player who tapped the ball to move it from its original location.

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Q. The AR held up his flag to indicate a throw in for the Red team. Neither the players nor the center noticed the flag and play continued for more than a minute with a series of 15 or more touches on the ball by both teams before the Blue team scored. At that point the referee observed the AR signaling, consulted with him, disallowed the goal and gave a throw in to the Red team.

Did the referee make the correct call in disallowing the goal after the passage of so much time and play? How long is too long to hold the flag up?

A. The USSF publication "Guide to Procedures for Referees and Assistant Referees" tells us that if the referee does not see it, the assistant referee maintains the signal in accordance with the pre-game conference. This is a matter that must be discussed and agreed upon among the officials before the game.

A reasonable pre-game instruction might be "hold the flag up until in your opinion it would no longer be fair or necessary to make the call." In this case since the ball should have been given to the red team and the blue team continued to have an attacking advantage, the referees appear to have made the right decisions. If the ball had been cleared up field by the red team the AR should probably have dropped his flag.

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Q. What is the proper restart when play was stopped for an injury while the goalkeeper had possession of the ball in his hands?

A.? The only restart provided for by the Laws of the Game is a dropped ball. The referee cannot instruct or force any player to play the ball to anyone or any place. In the spirit of "Good Sportsmanship" the opponents should allow the keeper to pick up the dropped ball without opposition, but the Laws do not require them to do so.

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Q. Can a player be shown the red card after the game is over?

A.The International F. A. Board and FIFA have made it clear that no one may be shown the card after the final whistle. However, the referee is still expected to provide full details on the incident in the match report.

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Q. Is it a foul to yell out, "mine", when going for the ball?

A. No, it has never been a "foul" to call out "mine" when going for the ball, but it is misconduct and subject to a caution and yellow card for unsporting behavior if, in the opinion of the referee, the player's action was intended to deceive an opponent unfairly. Just calling out "mine" is not misconduct.

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Q. A goalkeeper in his PA realizes an errant back pass from his fullback is about to enter the goal. The GK stops the ball completely with his hand. Is this an intentional pass to the keeper and therefore an offense and if so what would be the punishment?

A. Possibly, but only the referee on the spot will know if the "errant back pass" was a ball deliberately kicked to a place where the goalkeeper could play it. If it is an offense, it would be simply that the goalkeeper has handled a ball deliberately kicked to him by a teammate, for which the correct restart is an indirect free kick.

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Q. What is the legal way to wear an ankle brace?

A. Ankle braces may be worn in any way that is safe for all players, the same requirement that must be met for any equipment. There is no specific or exclusive way, other than one that ensures complete safety for all participants. The final decision rests with the referee for this particular game, not the last game, not the next game, but this game.

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Q. Can a player continue to play if he accidentally loses a shoe?

A. Law 4 is pretty clear on what must happen if there is an infringement:

"For any infringement of Law 4 play need not be stopped. The player at fault is instructed by the referee to leave the field of play to correct his equipment. The player leaves the field of play when the ball next ceases to be in play, unless he has already corrected his equipment."

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Q. When is a Throw-in in play?

A. 15.2 BALL IN PLAY FROM A THROW-IN (USSF Advice to Referees)
The ball is considered to have entered the field and is therefore in play if it touches, while still in the air, the outer edge of the vertical plane of the touch line and has left the thrower's hands.

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Q. When does a bad Throw-in result in a Throw-in for the opposing team and when is it just retaken?

A. When a Throw-in is taken and any of the requirements for a proper Throw-in are violated, the restart is based solely on whether or not the ball went into play. If the ball went into play the restart is a Throw-in by the opposing team. Otherwise, the Throw-in is retaken.

The ball is in play from a Throw-in when having left the thrower's hand it touches the outside plane of the touchline.

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Q. Can a player legally screen an opponent from the ball when within playing distance of the ball?

A. It is not an offence if a player, with the ball under control and within playing distance, screens the ball from an opponent without using his arms.

If however he prevents an opponent challenging for the ball by illegal use of the hand, arm, legs or body he must be penalized by a direct free kick or penalty kick.

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Q. Can a goalkeeper handle the ball in his own penalty area if it is kicked back to him by a teammate, not to waste time, but as a defensive move?

A. 12.20 BALL KICKED TO THE GOALKEEPER (USSF Advice to Referees)

A goalkeeper infringes Law 12 if he touches the ball with his hands directly after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a teammate.

  • The requirement that the ball be kicked means only that it has been played with the foot.

  • The requirement that the ball be "kicked to" the goalkeeper means only that the play is to or toward a place where the keeper can legally handle the ball.

  • The requirement that the ball be "deliberately kicked" means that the play on the ball is deliberate and does not include situations in which the ball has been, in the opinion of the referee, accidentally deflected or misdirected.

  • The goalkeeper has infringed the Law if he handles the ball after initially playing the ball in some other way (e.g., with his feet).

In this case the ball was "deliberately kicked" not "accidentally deflected or misdirected" to the goalkeeper, and therefore there was clearly an infringement of the Law.

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Q. Are players permitted to delay opponents from taking a free kick by standing near the ball?

A. In accordance with both the Laws of the Game and the Spirit of the Game free kicks are to be taken without interference or distraction by opponents. That is why they are called free kicks.

Deliberately delaying a free kick by standing over the ball, or by deliberately moving it away from the spot where the kick is to be taken, is misconduct. Specifically, "delaying the start of play" as well as "failing to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick." Both offenses are cautionable (yellow card) offenses.

The Region 85 Referee Staff joins FIFA, US-Soccer and AYSO National in encouraging our referees to strictly enforce this portion of the Law, with appropriate consideration for the age of the players.


(Law 13 Free Kicks)

... all opponents are at least 9.15 m (10 yards) from the ball until it is in play, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts.

(Law 12 Fouls and Misconduct)

A player is cautioned and shown the yellow card if he commits any of the following seven offenses:

4. delays the restart of play

5. fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick or free kick

(Additional Instructions for Referees, Assistant Referees and fourth Officials The taking of free kicks)

Referees are reminded that a player must be cautioned if:
he delays the restart of play
he fails to respect the required distance when play is being restarted

Note: In short sided games the required distance on free kicks may be less than 10 yards. In Region 85 the distance is always the same as the radius of the center circle.

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Q. Are slide tackles and tackles from behind legal?

A. Quote Region 85 Rules ...

8. Slide Tackles - There are no special Region 85 restrictions against properly executed slide tackles. Standard FIFA/AYSO rules and instructions apply as follows:

a. Tackling is the act of blocking the ball or moving the ball away from the feet of an opponent, in a manner which is not dangerous to the player. If contact is made with the player being tackled before contact is made with the ball, then a penal foul has been committed. In some cases, contact with the player after the ball has been played may even be a foul, depending on the circumstances (usually the severity or deliberateness of the contact).

b. Tackles from behind which endanger the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play. However, all tackles from the rear are not automatically a foul. If the ball was played first, and the contact with the player was minor, then there was no foul. Slide tackles can be dangerous for inexperienced players, and should be discouraged in the lower divisions, but they are not automatically a foul.

...End quote.

Additional comment: Hitting the ball first does not assure that a foul was not committed. If the opponent is contacted in a Careless or Reckless manner, or with Excessive Force (CREF) after the ball is played, a foul has still been committed.

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Q. Is there any circumstance where a player is permitted to wear jewelry?

A. Jewelry, earrings and studs are not allowed under any circumstances. Medical alert bracelets may be worn, but must be covered with a cloth wristband or something equivalent.

While referees have some latitude in determining the safety of certain items, e.g. soft hair bands or bows which might be considered as jewelry, they do not have any discretion concerning earrings or other jewelry that is worn in a clearly visible body piercing. These items are strictly forbidden, and must be removed.

Referees and coaches who knowingly allow players to violate this policy may face disciplinary action and increase their personal legal liability in case of accident.

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