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Changes in the Laws of the Game for 2016-2017

Law 3 — The number of players

Anyone not named on the team list as a player, substitute or team official is an outside agent.  If play is stopped and the interference was by a team official, substitute or sent off player, play is restarted with a direct free kick or penalty kick. If stopped due to an outside agent, play is restarted with a dropped ball.

If the ball is going into goal and the interference does not prevent a defending player playing the ball, the goal is awarded if the ball enters the goal, even if contact was made with the ball unless the ball enters the opponent’s goal.

Law 4 — Players Equipment

Socks–Tape or any material applied or worn outside MUST be the same color as that part of the sock it is applied to or covers.

A player whose shin-guard or footwear is lost accidentally must replace it as soon as possible and no later than when the ball is next out of play. If before doing so the player scores a goal, the goal will count.

Undershirts must be the same color as the main color of the shirt sleeve.  Undershorts/tights must be the same color as the main color of the shorts or the lowest part of the shorts.

Law 5 — Referee

The referee may not change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect if play has restarted or the referee has signaled the end of the first or second half and left the field of play or terminated the match.

Disciplinary actions:

  • Has the power to show yellow and red cards from entering the field at the start of the match until after the match has ended, including during half time.
  • Punish the more serious offense when more than one offence occurs at the same time.
  • Has the authority to take disciplinary action from entering the field for pre-match inspection until leaving the field of play after the match.
  • If before entering the field at the start of the match a player commits a sending off offense, the referee has the authority to prevent the player from taking part in the match. see Law 3.6).

Extra balls, objects, animals, enter the field during the match, the referee must:

  • Stop play and restart with a dropped ball only if it interferes with play UNLESS the ball is going into goal (see Law 3 above).
  • Allow play to continue if it does not interfere with play and have it removed at the earliest opportunity.

Law 8 — Start and Restart of Play

  • Kick-offs--The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves, including backwards. A goal may be scored directly against an opponent from the kick-off.
  • Dropped Ball Any number of players may contest a dropped ball, including the goalkeepers. The referee cannot decide who may contest a dropped ball or its outcome.

-A dropped ball kicked directly into the opponent’s goal, restart is a goal kick.

-A dropped ball kicked directly into own goal, restart is a corner kick.

Law 10 — Method of Scoring

Kicks from the Mark — Unless there are other considerations (field conditions, safety, etc…) the referee will toss a coin to decide which goal will be used. The referee tosses a coin again and the team that wins the toss decides whether to take the first or second kick. Each team selects the eligible kickers.  The referee is not informed of the order.

If at the end of a match, and before OR DURING the kicks from the mark, a team has a greater number than the other, it must reduce its number to match the opponent and the referee must be informed of the name(s) and number(s) of the excluded players.

Law 11 – Offside 

A player is in an offside position if: any part of the head, body or legs is in the opponent’s half (excluding the halfway line).of the field hands and arms of all players including goalkeepers are not considered since they cannot legally score a goal.

  • A player in an offside position at the moment the ball is played or touched by a teammate is only penalized on becoming involved in active play.
  • If an offside offence occurs, the referee awards an indirect free kick where the offence occurred, including if it is in the player’s own half of the field.

Law 12 — Fouls and Misconduct 

Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball, the player is sent off.

Where a player commits an offence within the penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned UNLESS:

  • the offence is holding, pushing or pulling or
  • the offending player does not attempt to play the ball or he/she has no possibility of playing the ball or
  • the offence is one which is punishable by a red card (serious foul play, violent conduct, etc…)

In all the above the player is sent off.

Violent conduct is when a player uses or attempts to use excessive force or brutality against an opponent when not challenging for the ball or against a teammate, team official, match official, spectator or any other person, regardless of whether contact is made.

If the ball is in play and a player commits an offence inside the field against:

  • an opponent–indirect or direct free kick or penalty kick
  • a teammate, substitute, substituted player, team official or match official — direct free kick or penalty kick
  • any other person — dropped ball.

Law 14 — Penalty Kick

Once the referee has signaled for a penalty kick to be taken, the kick must be taken.

Play is stopped and restarted with an indirect free kick, regardless of whether a goal is scored or not when:

  • a penalty kick is kicked backwards
  • a teammate of the kicker takes the kick.  The referee cautions the player who took the kick
  • feinting to kick the ball once the kicker has completed the run-up (feinting in the run-up is permitted).  The referee cautions the kicker.

If an outside agent (balloon, beach ball, dog, etc…) does not change the path of the ball and does not interfere with the defenders chance to play the ball, and it goes in the net for a goal, then the goal is counted.

Law 15 — Throw-in

An opponent who unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower (including moving closer than 2 yards from the spot of the throw-in) is cautioned for unsporting behavior or if the throw has been taken an indirect free kick is awarded.

Law 16 — Goal Kick

A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick but only against an opponent.

Law 17 — Corner Kick

The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area.

Pat Ferre
Pat Ferre
USSF Referee Grade 15 Emeritus
USSF Referee Instructor
USSF Referee Assessor
USSF Referee Assignor
District-7 Youth Referee Administrator (DYRA)
2017-07-07T09:51:17-08:00

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