Soccer Updates

Laws of the Game


Interpretation  for  C.L.C.F.  SOCCER

The rules of soccer are basically simple.  However, the interpretation and application of the rules to playing situations can be complex.  They can also vary substantially from referee to referee.  What is most important in a game is that the rules are applied evenly to both sides.

The rules explained herein are interpreted in non-technical language.  The intent is to explain the rule, not to cite it exactly. For the exact wording of the rule, refer to the annual F.I.F.A. "Laws of the Game".  The Youth Referees trained by C.L.C.F. Soccer have been schooled in these interpretations.  Any questions regarding the rules as they are defined herein are to be directed to the C.L.C.F. "Rules Interpreter". 


These are not the titles of two opposing forces on a battlefield.  Referees and coaches are essential components of the same game, each with a very different job to perform. The best and most enjoyable games occur when players play, coaches coach, and referees officiate.  Avoid confusing the role you are playing in the game.


Unlike most other sports, penalties for infractions of the rules do not have to be called by the referee in soccer.  The decision to interfere with the flow of the game for an infraction is the prerogative of the official.  Because the infraction is not called does not mean that it did not occur or that the official did not see it.  The referee may have cited the "advantage rule" which allows the game to continue if the offended team has retained possession of the ball.

The decision to make the call or not rests entirely with the referee.  If the referee improperly cites a rule his/her call may be questioned through the proper channels, which may be as simple as politely bringing the referees attention to the possible error.  If the game has been stopped this must be done before the game has been restarted.  However, no call made, or not made, on the basis of the referee's judgment may be challenged.




  1. Rectangular, divided in half by a line. 
  2. Center circle of 10 yards radius for kick-off purposes only. 
  3. Penalty area:  18 yards out from the end line and 44 yards wide (18 yards from each goal post). 
    a. the Keeper has special privileges in this area; 
    b. All defensive penalty kicks must exit this area to be in play; 
    c. All offensive direct kicks within the area are penalty kicks.
  4. Goal area:  6 yards from end line and 20 yards wide (6 yards from each goalpost.  All goal kicks must begin in this area.
  5. Goal:  8 feet high by 24 feet wide.
  6. Corner arc:  1-yard arc centered on each corner for corner kicks.
  7. Lines:  All lines are in bounds.  The ball must be completely beyond the line to be out of bounds.  End line is also referred to as the goal line.  Sidelines are referred to as touchlines.

CLCF Under 10 and Under 12 Divisions provision:  all areas within the field are two-thirds regulation size.  The field used is one-half of the regulation field.  Fields for Under 8 are smaller.  The goal size is the same for all of these divisions, @ 6'x12'.





  • Instructional clinic - #3
  • Under 8 - #3
  • Under 10 - #4
  • Under 12 - #4
  • Under 14 and above - #5



Maximum:  11 on the field.  CLCF Under 8, Under 10, and Under 12 use either 6 or seven players per team.

Minimum:   7 of 11 on the field.  No game may begin with less than 7 players for each team.  If a team is reduced to less than 7 on the field at any time for any reason the game is terminated by the referee.  CLCF requires 4 of 6 or 5 of 7.  Teams must have a designated goalkeeper regardless of the number of players on the field.

Teams do not have to have an equal number of players on the field.  If one team must play shorthanded for any reason the opposing team may continue to play with a full roster on the field.

Substitutions:   In order to help guarantee half-game playing time for all substitutions are unlimited at any appropriate time with the explicit consent of the referee. Substitutions may take place at the following times:

  1. Prior to a your team's throw-in.    (CLCF allows at EITHER team’s throw-in)
  2. Prior to a goal kick.
  3. Following a goal.
  4. After an injury if the referee stops the game.        (Mandatory in CLCF).
  5. At half time, or at the beginning of a period.
  6. A player receiving a Caution (yellow card) must leave the field and be replaced until the next stoppage of play.
  7. A player ejected (red card) for any reason during the game may not be replaced.  The team must play shorthanded.  A player ejected prior to the beginning of the game or from the team bench may not play.  However, the team does not play shorthanded during the game.
  8. Illegal equipment:  A player wearing illegal equipment must leave the field and may not be substituted for.  He/she may reenter the field with permission of the referee at the next stoppage of play.
  9. Under 8 Division:  Players shall enter the game at the beginning of a new quarter only.  Injured players who leave the field may be substituted back into the game for the same player who replaced them.  The substitution must take place at a regular FIFA substitution time.
  10. Injuries with blood:  Any player who is bleeding from any cause MUST be removed from the field.  Once cleaned up and the bleeding stopped the player may reenter the field.  A uniform with blood on it must be changed before the player may reenter.
  11. Head injuries.  Any player who suffers an injury to the head MUST be removed from the field.  The player may reenter the game only after the coach has received permission to do so directly from a parent or legal guardian.
  12. Player position:   No player may play in the same position for more than half the game.  This includes the position of goalkeeper.  All players must ply for a minimum of half the game.  Enforcing this rule is not the responsibility of the referee.  Coaches are to police themselves and each other.



Nothing that is considered by the referee to be dangerous to another player may be worn.  General prohibitions include:  rings, necklaces, bracelets, earrings, watches, barrettes (unless soft), casts or braces for arms or legs if made of any hard material.   Glasses or sunglasses are permitted if they are prescription lenses. Any player may wear athletic safety glasses.

 Uniform:  shoes, shirt, shorts, socks and shin guards required.  Shoes must be sneakers, or sport shoes with cleats specifically designed for soccer.  Shin guards must be manufactured for the purpose and must be worn under the socks.  The clothing of the goalkeepers must distinguish them from all other players on the field.  Opposing keepers may wear the same colors.

The uniform must be worn in the manner in which it was designed.  Shirts must be tucked in all the way around at all times.  Socks are to cover the shin pads completely at all times.  Shoes are to remain safely tied throughout the game.

Shorts worn under the team shorts are permitted as long as they are no longer than the team shorts.  They should be the same color as the team shorts, i.e., black.

  • During cold weather it is permissible in the Under 8 and Under 10 divisions only for players to wear long pants under the uniform shorts.  Under 12 and Under 14 divisions must wear the uniform as described in the paragraph above, i.e., shorts only.
  • All players may wear long sleeved shirts, sweatshirts, etc. under the uniform shirt.  Hoods on sweatshirts must be worn tucked into the uniform shirt.


Head Gear:  Head (sweat) bands (and soft wrist bands) are permitted.  Bandanas are not permitted.  The goalkeeper may wear a soft brim, baseball-type hat.

  • Only Medical Bracelets and Medical Necklaces are allowed to be worn.  The excess slack shall be taped on the Medical Bracelet allowing for enough room to read the information on the tag.
  • Casts or braces for arms or legs: If made of any hard material casts or braces must be completely covered by 1/2 inch of soft padding.  (Foam Pipe insulation secured by duct tape is ideal.)  No part of the cast or brace may be exposed so as to present a danger to any other player.  The Referee is the judge in this matter.  The referee may be overruled by the Field Representative.




  1. Protect the safety of the players;
  2. Enforce the rules of the game.


Authority:  From the time the referee arrives until the referee leaves the area of the playing field his/her authority is absolute.  His/her decisions are final and may not be challenged unless a rule has been clearly and improperly cited.  Players or coaches may never question "Judgment calls".

The final say on safe player equipment or interference by spectators or coaches rests with the referee. A Field Representative will determine safe field conditions and unsafe weather conditions. The referee has sole discretionary power to caution (yellow card) or eject (red card) any player or coach for serious or persistent infractions of the rules.

Whistles:  The referee stops the game for an infringement of the rules by blowing a whistle.  Most referees carry the whistle in their hand instead of in the mouth.  This is to prevent blowing the whistle in anticipation of an infringement or by accident.  It also allows the referee a second to analyze the results of an incident and perhaps to cite the "advantage rule".  The sound of the whistle will always be after an infraction, not at the same time.  It is better to have a late whistle than an early whistle.

Advantage Rule:  the referee may allow play to continue following an infringement if stopping the game would give an advantage to the offending team.  "Advantage" is a privilege, not a right.  Once given, the referee may rescind the advantage and call the foul if the advantage is lost immediately after the advantage was signaled.  For example:  a player is tripped but retains possession of the ball.  The referee indicates "play on" with the arms and the player then falls. The fall is the direct result of the trip so the referee may now signal "trip".



Assistant Referees help the referee in making calls.  The Assistant Referees are not referees.  They may not stop the game for infractions of the rules.  They indicate to the referee that a foul has occurred by means of flags.  They raise the flag to indicate:

  1. When the ball is out of play;
  2. When an offside infraction has occurred;
  3. When any other infraction has occurred;
  4. Which team is entitled to the corner kick, goal kick, direct or indirect kick, or throw-in.

Some referees prefer to limit what calls the Assistant Referees may make during the game.  As a result the referee does not signal many apparent infractions seen or indicated by the linesmen.

The referee in the middle has final say on all issues.  He may at any time ignore or overrule the signal flag of the Assistant Referees if he/she disagrees or if he/she opts to cite the advantage rule.


  • Assistant Referees are used in the Under 14 full field games only.




            Under 8:                                             four 10-minute quarters

            Under 10:                                           two 22-minute halves 

            Under 12:                                           two 22-minute halves 

            Under 14:                                           two 25-minute halves

            Under 16 and Under 17                    two 40-minute halves

            Under 19 and above                         two 45-minute halves


Ties in championship play are decided by playing two additional 5- or 10-minute overtime periods.  These periods are not sudden death; they must be played out.  If still tied the game is determined by a penalty shot shootout.




Before the game begins a coin toss is used to determine who will defend which end and who will kickoff.  The visiting team calls the toss and the team winning the toss chooses either the ball or the right to defend a preferred goal.  If the ball is chosen the other team may select to defend either end.  If the team winning the toss chooses to defend a side the other team must take the ball.  Teams alternate possession of the ball at the start of each period of play.

A kickoff begins play at the start of a quarter or half and following a goal.  Every player must be in his/her own half of the field until the ball is kicked.  The defending team must be outside of the center circle.  If there is no center circle then defenders must keep 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked.  The ball must be stationary at the center of the field.  Any violation of procedures will result in a restart.  At the whistle the ball must be kicked forward and played by another player. 

  • A goal may not be scored directly from the first kick on a kickoff.


Drop ball:  There are two occasions when a drop ball will be used to restart a game:

  1. Play has been suspended temporarily for any reason other than an infraction of the rules, or
  2. The ball has gone out of play and it cannot be determined which team should have possession.

The referee will drop the ball where it was when play was stopped unless the ball was within the goal area.  In this case the ball will be dropped on the 6-yard line nearest the point where the ball was.  If the ball was near the touchline or goal line it may be moved up to 5 yards onto the field.  It will be dropped between one player from each team.  The ball must touch the ground before it may be played by any player. 




Out of Play:  The ball is out of play whenever it has passed entirely over the end line or the touchline.  One hundred percent of the ball must pass beyond one hundred percent of the line.  If any part of the ball is on any part of the line it is in bounds.

In Play:  The ball is in play at all other times unless the referee has stopped the game for any reason.  The ball is considered "dead" and play ends immediately upon the sound of the referee's whistle.  If the ball in flight goes into the goal after the whistle has been sounded the goal is void.  Play ended when the whistle began.  If the ball rebounds off the goalpost, crossbar, corner flag, referee or linesman and remains on the field it is in play.




A goal is scored when the entire ball passes over the goal line between the goal posts and below the crossbar. 



  1. If the ball was illegally propelled by an attacker's arms or hands.
  2. The kick was indirect and was not touched by anyone on either team other than the original kicker.
  3. If a free kick by the defending team goes directly into its own goal without touching any other player.  (A corner kick is awarded to the other team in this case.)
  • If the ball deflects into the goal from a defender as the result of legal play or a defender's illegal play following an advantage call a goal is scored for the attacking team.
  • If the goalkeeper carries the ball into the goal following a catch or puts the ball into the goal as part of a throw, a goal is scored.
  • Each goal counts as one point.




This is one of the most misunderstood or least understood of all soccer rules.

General Interpretation:  A player is offside if he/she is nearer to his/her opponent's goal line than the ball at the moment the ball is played. 


  1. There is never offside on your own side of the field.
  2. There are two opponents as close as the attacker to the goal line.  ("Even is on.")
  3. The ball was last played by an opponent.  Playing the ball does not include mere deflection.  Playing implies a controlled or intentional playing of the ball.
  4. The ball was received directly from one of the following:  a. goal kick, b. corner kick, c. throw-in, d. drop ball.  Once any other player other than the kicker or thrower has played the ball then all offside rules are in effect. 
  5. Offside Position:  If, in the opinion of the referee, an attacking player is in an offside position but is not seeking to gain an advantage by being in that position, then the player is not offside.  This usually is interpreted to mean that the player is beyond reasonable playing distance from the ball and was not an intended participant in the play or the player has the ability to play the ball but does not attempt to do so and does not interfere with the defenders ability to play the ball.



  • An injured player making no attempt to play the ball;
  • A player on the far side of the field or significantly away from play; 
  • A player fixing equipment and making no attempt to be part of the play; 
  • A player running alongside or ahead of a teammate who is playing the ball as long as the player never receives or touches the ball. 
  • If any of these players become a part of the play they may be called for offside.         


Penalty:  Indirect kick to the other team.  The ball shall be kicked from the place where the player was located when the infraction occurred.


  • In CLCF short field games and in the Under 8 division there are no offsides at any time.




A foul or misconduct is any action, which causes harm or offense to an opponent or participant in the game.  Some fouls and misconducts are more serious than others and are dealt with more severely.

A foul or misconduct could result in a free kick to the offended team.  It could also result in a caution or ejection for the offending player. 



The following nine offenses are considered serious and always result in a direct kick for the offended team.  If the offense is committed by the defending team in its own penalty area the penalty is always a penalty kick.  The foul must be intentional.

  1. Kicking or attempting to kick an opponent.
  2. Tripping
  3. Jumping at an opponent.
  4. Charging violently.
  5. Charging from behind.
  6. Striking or attempting to strike (includes spitting).
  7. Holding an opponent.
  8. Pushing an opponent.
  9. Handling the ball illegally.
  • (Quick memory:  all involve some violence and end in "-ing")


  •  In CLCF Under 8 games there are no Direct Kicks.  All kicks are Indirect.



  1. Dangerous play.
  2. Charging fairly when not within reasonable playing distance from the ball.
  3. Obstructing an opponent from getting to the ball when you are not attempting to play it yourself.
  4. Charging the goalkeeper or kicking the ball when the keeper has possession of it.
  5. Violations of the restrictions on the goalkeeper in the penalty area.  (see below)
  6. Encroachment:  A player kicking a free kick has an absolute right to do so unimpeded by defenders.  All defenders must remain 10 yards from the ball until it is kicked.  A defender entering this free zone before the ball is kicked is encroaching.  This free kick zone is 5 yards in half-field games.
  7. A player throwing the ball into play has an absolute right to do so.  A defender attempting to block or obstruct the thrower is encroaching.
  8. If the referee stops play in order to issue a caution or an ejection, an indirect kick is awarded to the other team from the point of infraction.  (This would be for a non-violent infraction, which occurs away from the play.)
  9. Fouls by attackers occurring in the penalty area will restart with an indirect kick from the center of the line defining the penalty area (or 5 yards from the goal if there is no marked penalty area).


Special privileges of the Goal Keeper in his/her own penalty area:

  1. The keeper may handle the ball.
    Restriction:  Once the ball is in control the keeper must put it into play within six (6) seconds.  The keeper may take as many steps as desired within this six (6) second period.  He may not delay the game by holding the ball (Penalty: indirect kick for the opposing team).  Once released into play by being kicked or thrown the keeper may not handle the ball again unless an opponent inside the penalty area or any player outside the penalty area plays it.
    If the ball is kicked to the keeper by a teammate the keeper may not touch the ball with his hands.  The keeper may play the ball with the feet, body, or head only.  Should the keeper touch the ball with his/her hands the opposing team shall be awarded an indirect kick from the point of infraction.  The keeper may use his/her hands if the ball is passed back from the head or body of a teammate.  No player may kick the ball to his/her own head in order to pass it to the keeper.  Penalty:  Caution to the player; indirect kick if the keeper touches the ball with the hands.
  2. The keeper may not be charged while going for the ball or while in possession of it.  "Possession" means control by either or both hands.  A ball pinned to the ground by one hand is in control.
  3. Outside the penalty area the Keeper must obey all rules as any other player on the field.
  • In CLCF short field games no throw or kick by the keeper or a kick by any other player from within the penalty area may go past mid-field in the air.  The penalty is an Indirect Kick for the opposing team from the mid-field position.



CAUTIONS (Yellow Card):

  1. A player is guilty of serious misconduct.
  2. A player continually commits violations of the laws of the game.
  3. A player dissents from any decision of the referee.
  4. A player acts in any unsportsmanlike manner.
  5. A player enters the game without permission from the referee.
  6. A player is guilty of unsportsmanlike behavior.
  7. A player deliberately delays the game by refusing to put the ball in play or by preventing the opponent from putting the ball in play.


EJECTION (Red Card):

A player is guilty of violent or very serious misconduct.
A slide tackle from behind is considered a very serious misconduct at all times even if no one is injured.  Ejection from the game is the standard penalty.
CLCF allows slide tackles in the Under 14 and above divisions only.  Players in the Under 8, Under 10 and Under 12 Divisions are to stay on their feet when playing the ball.  A slide tackle is considered tripping; a slide tackle that does not touch the opponent may be regarded by the referee as an attempted trip.

  1. A player uses foul or abusive language.
  2. A player is fighting or attempting to fight.
  3. A player spits at another player or the officials.
  4. A player continues to commit an infraction after having been previously cautioned.
  • It is not necessary to have received a caution before an ejection may be issued.  A second caution for any reason is the equivalent of an ejection.  An ejected player may not be replaced during the remainder of the game.
  • A coach may be cautioned or ejected for the same reasons listed above.
  • A player who is ejected (red card) from a game may not continue to play in that game.  The player is also prohibited from playing in the team’s next game, even if that game is in championship play.
  • A player who receives three (3) cautions (yellow cards) during the season is prohibited from playing in the team’s next game, even if that game is in championship play. 
  • In CLCF Under 8 division games there are no Yellow or Red cards given for infractions.  The referee shall speak to the coach concerning problems.



Types:             Direct kick and Indirect kick.           

Difference:     Direct kick:  a goal may be scored on the kick.

Indirect kick:  the ball must touch or be touched by any other player before it may score a goal. 

Free kicks take place from the point of infraction.  Exceptions:

                        1. Penalty kick,

                        2. Direct or indirect kick taken as a result of a foul inside the goal area.  The ball is to be placed on the 6-yard line nearest the point of infraction.


The ball must be stopped on the ground in order to be kicked.  The kicker may not touch the ball again until another player from either team has touched it.

All opponents must remain not less than 10 yards from the ball.  This is an obligation.  However, the kicking team does not have to wait until the opponents are 10 yards from the ball.  Entering the 10-yard zone to block a kick is not fair play (infraction is called encroachment) and is to be penalized by an indirect kick if it interferes with play.  If there are not 10 yards between the ball and the goal line the defending team may stand on the goal line between the goalposts.  Half field games = 5 yards.

 On all free kicks taken by the defending team from within the penalty area the ball must leave the area before it is in play.  If it fails to do so or if any player touches it before it leaves the area the ball is to be re-kicked.  Members of the attacking team may not cross through the penalty area in order to intercept the ball, which is being player to another defender on the other side of the area.  (Penalty:  re-kick)





            A penalty kick is awarded any time an infraction resulting in a direct kick is committed by the defending team in its own penalty area.


            Penalty kicks are always taken from a spot 12 yards from the center of the goal.  In CLCF short field games the distance will be 10 yards.  Only the keeper and the kicker may be in the penalty area.  All other players must be outside the penalty area and not less than 10 yards from the ball.  No player may enter the area until after the ball is kicked.  The referee’s whistle is for the kicker. The keeper must keep both feet on the goal line until the ball is kicked.  The keeper may move from side to side but may not approach the ball or kicker until the ball has been kicked.  The kicker must kick the ball forward and may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.  The kicker may not replay a ball that has rebounded from the goalposts or crossbar.  Any violation of the rules will be penalized as follows:


            1. If by the kicker:  indirect kick to the defending team.

            2. If by the attacking team:  re-kick if the goal was scored.

            3. If by the defending team:  re-kick if the goal was not scored.


            The game may be extended to allow for a penalty kick.  The kicker and the keeper are to be the only players on the field in this situation.



When ever the ball passes entirely over the touchline a throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last.  The throw-in takes place within one yard of where the ball went out of bounds.  The thrower must face the field with both feet on or outside the touchline.  The ball must be thrown with both hands evenly from behind and over the head.

A goal may not be scored directly from the throw-in.  The ball may be thrown directly to the keeper who may play it with his hands.  Opponents may not interfere with the throw-in.  The thrower may not touch the ball again until another player of either team has touched it.  The penalty for an improper throw-in:  throw-in by the other team from the same place.

The ball is in play when it enters the plane of the playing field, even if it does not touch the ground.  If the ball never crosses the plane of the field the throw will be retaken.  If the ball crosses the plane of the field and goes back over the touchline a throw-in is awarded the other team.  If the ball goes directly over the end line a goal kick or a corner kick is awarded to the appropriate team.

  • CLCF Under 8 players are given two opportunities to throw the ball onto the field.  If the first throw is incorrect the referee will explain why to the player and that same player may have a second opportunity.  A foul on the second throw will result in the ball being given to the opposing team for a throw-in. This exception will continue for the first five (5) weeks of the season.




Whenever the ball is last touched by the attacking team and passes over the goal line (except on the scoring of a goal) a goal kick is awarded to the defending team.  The kick is to be taken from any place within the goal area.  All opponents must be outside the penalty area and may not enter the area until the ball has exited the area. 

The ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area.  If it does not leave the area or if a player from either team touches it before it leaves the area, the kick is to be retaken.  The kicker may not touch the ball again until another player has touched it.

A goal may not be scored directly from a goal kick.  There are no off sides on a goal kick regardless of the position of the other team's players.

  • In CLCF short field games kicks by the keeper or by any other player from within the penalty area may go past mid-field in the air.  The penalty is an Indirect Kick for the opposing team from the mid-field position





Whenever the ball is last touched by the defending team and passes over the goal line (except on the scoring of a goal) a corner kick is awarded to the attacking team.  The kick is to be taken from within the one-yard arc on the side where the ball went out of bounds.  All opponents must be not less than 10 yards from the ball. 

 A corner kick is a direct kick and a goal may be scored from the kick.  Infractions by the defending team result in a re-kick.



Law 18:  The Reason for the Game


            Let the kids have fun !!!


            The first reason for participating in CLCF Soccer is to let our children have fun and enjoy themselves.  Developing athletic and social skills is second. Learning about the game of soccer is third. Everything else comes last.


            Everyone likes to win, but winning is not the objective of the game.  Winning is a reward for accomplishment.  Learning to win with grace and to lose with dignity is an essential part of growing up to be adults. We adults should not cheat our children by reinforcing through our sideline behavior that winning is the ultimate goal.


            For coaches, parents, and spectators it is far more enjoyable and rewarding to leave the field of play having watched our children having fun and learning from mistakes than it is to be frustrated because the other team came out on top today.


Let the kids have fun !!

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