Soccer Laws of the Game

Team Roster

  • Each team can carry on its roster no more than 22 players. FXA suggests having at least 16 players to ensure you can field a team every week
  • For co-ed leagues, teams may have no more than 7 male players on the field at one time.
  • Female players on the field count toward the required minimum of female players regardless of position (a female goalkeeper counts as one of the 4).  
  • There is no requirement to reduce male players for missing female players, but the male maximum may not be exceeded (i.e. - Team A is missing 1 female, they play with 10 players total, 7 males and 3 females). 
  • All players must be registered on the team roster, and guest players must have a signed guest waiver (www.fxasports.com/guest) in order to be eligible to play in a match. Teams are required to have a minimum of 11 players on their roster before the team’s first game. Each roster must include the player’s name and jersey number.

Uniform Requirements/Jersey Numbers 

  • All Players (except the goalie) must have a PERMANENT # on the back of their shirt/jersey. Players without #s will not be allowed to play! Failure to do so will result in a forfeit match. The goalie must be listed as 0 on the team roster.
  • Team captains must bring a copy of their roster to the field (here's how). There will be a pre-game check-in for all players, where photo IDs will be validated against the roster. Any guests must present government-issued photo ID, and all players must match their jersey number to the roster.
    • If there are any guest players playing for the team, the Captain/Manager will ensure the players are added to the roster when it is presented to the referee AND that each guest player will provide proper government photo identification (drivers license, passport, green card, etc) to show the referee (see section on using Guest Players). The referee will ensure that all guest players wear a jersey that has a unique, permanent, clearly visible number and that it is properly recorded on the team roster.
    • A team is permitted to have 1 player (rostered or guest) who can play without a numbered jersey provided that the player provides proper legal identification with photo to the referee who then can record the information on the roster.

Equipment

  • All players must wear shin guards and a shirt/jersey with a number on it that corresponds to their number on the teams official roster. If a player does not have a jersey with a permanent number on the back or shin guards, they will not be allowed to play.
  • If there is a conflict in shirt color, the away team will change shirt colors or wear pinnies.

Jewelry

  • In accordance with FIFA and USSF, players are NOT permitted to wear jewelry during a match. Medical bracelets or necklaces may be worn, provided they are taped to the player’s body and do not represent a threat to the player. Fitbits and other personal tracking devices are considered jewelry and may not be worn during a match.
  • Referees will NOT conduct an equipment check of players before the match begins. Players are expected to remove all jewelry before kickoff. If, during the course of the match, a referee sees a player wearing jewelry, the referee will ask the individual to leave the field to remove the jewelry. In such an instance, the player cannot return to the field until the referee beckons them on, and the team cannot substitute for the person until the next permissible opportunity to substitute.
  • FXA Sports recognizes that in an adult league, some players may wear jewelry that cannot be immediately removed (for example, small piercings in a single nostril that require specialized tools to assist in the removal). In such an instance, the referee will ask the player to remove the offending jewelry, but if the player says they cannot, then the player will affirm to the referee that they accept all legal responsibility for any injury to themselves or any other player resulting from the offending jewelry and that they release the referee specifically, and the League generally, of any and all legal responsibility and/or liability should an injury occur.
    • Further Clarification: In general, the FXA Sports prohibits the wearing of jewelry of any kind. The above exception only applies to jewelry which is considered “permanent” in nature and does NOT/NOT apply to rings, earrings (including studs), bracelets, necklaces, watches, personal tracking devices, nose rings, or any other jewelry that is temporary in nature and can be removed before the game begins.

Substitutions

  • Either team may substitute at any stoppage in play (kick off from the center mark, corner kick, goal kick, drop ball, penalty kick, kick following a foul, throw in, injury stoppage, etc) regardless of whether the opposing team substitutes, buy ONLY with the referee’s permission. A substitute who enters the field of play before being beckoned on by the referee can be cautioned for illegally entering the field of play.
  • Players arriving after the match has started will NOT be allowed to substitute into the match until the referee crew has had an opportunity to check their identification against the roster either during a stoppage in play or at halftime.
  • In accordance with FIFA and USSF law changes for 2019, players being substituted MUST leave the field at the closest point to the boundary (goal line or touch line).  Substitutes must still enter at midfield.  Failure to quickly exit the field could be a cautionable offense for delaying the restart of play.  Referees may designate another exit point for safety or security reasons.

Guest Players

  • For regular season (non-playoff) matches, each team may use up to four (4) guest players (an individual not listed on the official team roster) in a match.
    • For coed matches, a maximum of 2 substitutes of each gender may be used. 
  • Before the match kicks off, each guest player must identify themselves to the referee and present a valid form of identification (license, passport) with a photograph. If a guest player does not have a valid form of identification, they cannot play in the match. 
    • Additionally, the guest player MUST HAVE a permanently numbered shirt/jersey that is the same color as the team.

Match Length

  • The Match will play an 80 minute game (40 minute halves);
  • The referee will start the clock at the scheduled match time. If teams are not prepared and cannot field a team at the scheduled kick off time, the clock will still start on time and the game will play with shortened halves so that it can be completed in its allotted time.
    • If a team cannot field the proper number of players by 10 minutes past the scheduled kick off, they will forfeit the match and it will not be rescheduled.
  • The League will provide referees access to all field permits so that they can be viewed at the field for all matches. If another League claims to have the field, the referee—in consultation with team captains—will present a copy of the permit to the appropriate park authorities to resolve the issue. If there is ever an issue at the field, please send a text message to 703-382-111 immediately and League Administrators will resolve the issue.
    • If a field permit issue cannot be resolved at the field, team captains will text the league hotline (703-382-9111) and the referee will call the referee assignor for assistance in resolving the issue.
  • A game’s result will be final, as long as one full half of the match is played. If a game is suspended during halftime due to adverse weather, loss of lights, or other field reason, the game will be considered complete and the score at that point in the match will be recorded as final.

Playoff Overtime Rules

  • Guest players are NOT allowed to play in a playoff match.
  • If a playoff game ends in a tie, the match will be decided by Kicks from the Mark (penalty kicks). ONLY players on the field at the end of regulation time in the match may participate in the shootout.
    • If one team is playing with fewer players than a full team (ie, 9 or 10 players), then the opposing team will reduce the number of kickers on their side by the same number (reduce to equate).
    • For COED divisions, the first 5 kickers MUST include 2) females, who may kick in any order, alternating between teams. NOTE: it is not required that a team's 5 kickers alternate between male and female kickers, just that 2 of the 5 are female. 
  • If the score remains tied after the first 5 kickers from each team have taken their shot, the remaining 6 players from each team will have an opportunity to shoot in any order desired, alternating between teams, in sudden death to determine a winner.
  • No player may take a second shot until ALL players on their team participating in the Kicks from the Mark, have taken their first shot.
  • The referee will determine which goal will be used for the Kicks From the Mark. He will then conduct a coin toss to determine which team kicks first. The Away team will make the call. Whichever team wins the toss can choose to kick first or kick second.

Slide Tackling

As a matter of safety, and for the protection of all players, slide tackling is prohibited in all matches. Players are permitted to slide to play a ball provided they are NOT in proximity to any other player, including a teammate. A goalie may slide when making a save, but cannot slide to simply tackle the ball away from an opponent.

  • FXA Sports wants to eliminate slide tackling.  ALL slide tackles MUST be punished with a Caution.
  • The re-start for a slide tackle is an indirect free kick for the opposing team.
  • If in the referee’s opinion a slide tackle is violent with intent to injure a player deliberately, the player will be ejected (Red Card).

Enforcement of 10 Yards for Free Kick Explanation / Clarification

  • The Laws of the Game (FIFA, USSF, and FXA) require that after a foul is committed, the team committing the foul MUST immediately retreat 10 yards and not attempt to prevent or delay the team that was fouled from restarting play.
  • The team taking the kick DOES NOT have to ask the opponents to retreat 10 yards on a restart, the opponent is required by the laws of the game to retreat automatically.
  • If the opponent(s) who committed a foul fail to retreat the 10 yards automatically, and thus delay or prevent the restart of the play, the Laws of the Game REQUIRE the referee to caution the player(s) delaying the restart.

Foul Language / Dissent

  • The League, in response to USSF guidance, has instructed the referees to eliminate foul, abusive, or degrading language, especially when directed at another player, a teammate, the referee crew or a spectator. Foul and abusive language includes, but is not limited to, profanity, racial/gender/religious/ethnic slurs or degrading comments, and harassing or demeaning words, phrases, or gestures. It also includes taunting.
  • When it is directed at another player, a teammate, the referee, or a spectator, referees will automatically issue a Red Card ejection to the player. The ejected player must immediately leave the field complex. In addition to sitting out the remainder of the match the player was ejected from, the player will be required to sit out two additional matches. Additional match suspensions may be added for such things as continuing to use foul and abusive language, failing to leave the field complex immediately, and other actions which bring the game into disrespect.
  • When a player uses a non-racist expletive in frustration (missed shot, errant pass, etc) that is muttered under the player’s breath and not directed at anyone in particular, the referee is NOT required to card the player and are advised to have a quiet word with the player to remind him/her to watch his/her language.
    • Referees have been instructed to take the context of the game into account when determining whether the use of foul, abusive, degrading language in frustration should be result in a Caution or an Ejection.
    • Rule of thumb—if the foul language can be heard by spectators on the
      sideline, and young children are present, it MUST result in a Yellow Card. Likewise, if a player repeatedly continues to use foul, abusive, or degrading language in frustration, even after receiving one or more verbal reminders from the referee to curb their language, it MUST result in a Yellow card.

Cautions / Ejections / Red Card Fines

The League follows FIFA and USSF policy for misconduct for Cautions and Ejections. All cards issued in a match will be visible on the website using on the Player Cautions Report.

The Key Code for all Cards received is as follows:
Caution (Yellow Card)

  1. Unsporting Behavior (USB)
  2. Dissent
  3. Slide Tackle
  4. Persistent Infringement
  5. Interfering with the goalkeeper
  6. Fail to Respect the Required Distance (10 yard rule)
  7. Enter/Leave the field of play without the referee's permission
  8. Attempt to deceive the referee (faking an injury, taking a dive)

Ejection (Red Card)

  1. Double Yellow
  2. Persistent Dissent
  3. Foul and Abusive Language
  4. Serious Foul Play
  5. Violent Conduct
  6. Denying a goal scoring opportunity
  7. Spitting at, Hitting, Striking
  8. Fighting

 

  • If a player receives two cautions in one match, he/she will receive a Red Card and MUST sit out the remainder of the match. The player MUST also sit out the team’s next scheduled match.
  • If a player is ejected from a match (Red Card), he/she must sit out the remainder of the match AND the team’s next 2 scheduled matches. This law applies only to “hard Red cards”, i.e. not an ejection that results from 2 cautions in the same match per # 3 above.
  • If a player is ejected for fighting or striking another player, he/she must sit out the remainder of the match AND they MUST sit out (at minimum) the team’s next 4 scheduled matches.
    • NOTE: All incidents of fighting will be reviewed by FXA Sports staff, and adjudicated under our Sportsmanship Policy. 


An ejected player must leave the field of play and subsequently the entire field complex immediately. If the ejected player refuses to leave immediately, continues to disrupt or prevent the resumption of the match, or by deed or word continues to bring the match into disrepute, the League will require the player to sit out additional matches beyond the mandatory two game suspension.

Referees are required to check the League website using the link to report a card to determine if a player is scheduled to sit out an upcoming match. When the referee conducts the formal roster check-in, he will ensure that any player serving a sit out does not play in the match. If a player fails to sit out any of the games he/she is required to sit out, the League will require the player to sit out 2 additional games beyond the required sit out.

The League will track all Cautions and Ejections. Should a player persistently received Cautions during multiple matches, League Administrators will determine whether the player must sit out additional matches.

Dissent

FXA Sports understands that during the passion of any given match, a player or coach might object to a call (or non-call) by a referee. Such dissent is permissible provided it does not involve foul, abusive, or degrading language or become repetitive or persistent.


However, we expect all players and team personnel, including the team’s spectators, to respect the integrity and knowledge of the assigned officials. Both FIFA and USSF affirm that dissent by a player or bench personnel if persistent and abusive, brings the game into disrepute, the greatest sin in soccer. FXA Sports respects this decision, and will NOT tolerate abusive or persistent dissent of a referee's call(s).

FIFA specifically instructs referees that a player WILL be cautioned when the player shows visibly disrespectful behavior toward any official, responds aggressively towards decisions, confronts an official face to face, and/or runs towards an official to contest a decision.

When dealing with dissent during a match, referees will employ the USSF mandated procedure of Ask, Tell, Dismiss in an effort to de-escalate the situation before having to resort to more drastic measures. Under this process, the referee will address dissent that is not abusive as follows:

  1. ASK: When responding to an individual who is dissenting, the referee will acknowledge that he has heard the individual’s concern, and may take the opportunity to explain the call or non-call that led to the dissent (if the context and tone/tenor of the game permits him/her do to so). At which time, if the individual persists in their dissent, he will ASK them to cease their dissent and proceed with the match. (This is the equivalent of their verbal warning).
  2. TELL: When the dissenting individual ignores the referee’s request to cease with their dissent, and continues to argue with calls or make disparaging comments about the officiating, the referee will then TELL the individual to CEASE with their comments. If the referee must resort to the TELL phase, he/she will issue a Caution (yellow card) for dissent.
  3. DISMISS: If, after being TOLD to cease in their dissent, the individual continues to dissent, or becomes more aggressive, disparaging, or continues to bring the game into disrepute, the referee will eject the player for Persistent Dissent.

    The Ask, Tell, Dismiss process is designed to keep players and bench personnel in the match and gives them an opportunity to curb their objectionable behavior and play the game for the beauty of the game. At ANY time, however, if an individual strongly dissents a referee’s call, it can result in an immediate caution. Moreover, if the individual uses foul, abusive, or degrading language or threatens an official in a dissent, it MUST result in an Ejection (Red Card).

Temporary Dismissal Policy (“Sin Bin”)

Beginning in 2018, FIFA and USSF have adopted a new policy regarding Temporary Dismissals for players who are cautioned in a match. In accordance with FIFA Guidelines (IFAB Laws of the Game, pgs 26-29), “A temporary dismissal is when a player commits a cautionable (Yellow Card) offence and is punished by an immediate “suspension” from participating in the next part of that match. The philosophy is that an “instant punishment” can have a significant and immediate positive influence on the behavior of the offending player, and potentially, the player’s team.

  • Temporary Dismissals apply to ALL players (including the goalkeepers) but not for cautionable offenses committed by a substitute or substituted player.
  • The referee will indicate a temporary dismissal by showing a yellow card and then clearly pointing with both arms to the temporary dismissal area (herein referred to as the “Sin Bin”. For all FXA Sports games, this area is defined as the furthest part of the team’s technical area away from mid-field. A temporarily dismissed player should remain in the Sin Bin, unless ‘warming up’ (under the same conditions as a substitute.)
  • The length of the temporary dismissal for all FXA games is 10% of the match (8 minutes for 11v11, 6 minutes for 8v8 games). The length of the dismissal is the same for all offences.
  • The temporary dismissal period begins when the referee restarts play AFTER the offending player has left the field of play and is in the Sin Bin. The offending player’s team will play short for the entire temporary dismissal period.
    • The offending player must serve the entire time, regardless of whether the opposing team scores one or more goals during this period.
    • If a player’s temporary dismissal period has not been completed at the end of the first half (or the end of the second half when extra time is to be played), the remaining part of the temporary dismissal period is served from the start of the second half (and/or the start of extra time). A player who is still serving a temporary dismissal at the end of the match is permitted to take part in kicks from the penalty mark.
    • The referee has the final decision as to when the player can return to the field. Once the temporary dismissal period has been completed, the player can return from the touchline with the referee’s permission, which can be given while the ball is in play, but not until the referee acknowledges the player and beckons them onto the field.
    • A temporary dismissed player cannot be substituted for until the end of the temporary dismissal period.
    • A temporarily dismissed player who commits a cautionable or a Send Off offence during their temporary dismissal period will take no further part in the match and may not be replaced or substituted. That player’s team will play short for the remainder of the game following the player’s permanent dismissal from the match.
  • ALL cautions (Yellow Cards) are punished with a temporary dismissal.
    • A player who commits a 2nd cautionable offence in the same match will receive a second temporary dismissal and then cannot return to the match, but may be replaced by a substitute at the end of the second temporary dismissal period.
    • If a team falls below the five player minimum for a match due to Sin Bin sit outs, the referee will suspend the match until the earliest player’s time in the Sin Bin expires and has served their full suspension.

Zero Tolerance for Dissent Policy

  • When a player begins to dissent, his teammates and/or Manager/Coach are expected to play a role to help calm the individual down. FXA Sports recognizes, however, that in some instances, despite the best efforts of teammates and/or bench personnel, some players will persist in their dissent or become increasingly abusive, aggressive or threatening. In these instances, the League has developed a ZERO TOLERANCE for Dissent policy.
  • This law, which is specific to FXA Sports, and applies ONLY to dissent, allows the referee to eject a player who persistently dissents without penalizing the overall team, BUT ONLY when the player’s teammates have made a deliberate and honest effort to keep the player from dissenting further.
  • In such an instance, when a player or a substitute on the bench persistently dissents--regardless of whether foul, abusive, or degrading language is used--and his/her teammates make a deliberate and honest effort to get the player to calm down, the referee can eject the player/substitute without requiring the team to play short as a result of the player’s ejection. 
  • In such an instance, the referee will clearly announce, and inform the team captain/manager for both teams, that the player has been ejected under the Zero Tolerance for Dissent policy. The team may then replace the ejected player and DOES NOT have to play down a player. 
    • When either a player or a substitute on the bench is ejected under the Zero Tolerance for Dissent policy, they must immediately leave the field and the surrounding area.  The referee will not restart play until the offending player has left, but the clock will continue to run.  To avoid the loss of playing time, teams are strongly encouraged to urge the ejected player to immediately leave the field complex. 
  • A player who is ejected under the Zero Tolerance for Dissent policy, will be shown the red card. In addition to sitting out the remainder of the match for which the player was ejected, the player MUST also sit out the team’s next scheduled match.  Additional match suspensions will be added for such things as continuing to use foul and abusive language, failing to leave the field complex immediately, and other actions which bring the game into disrepute.
  • So to summarize the new policy, when teams work with a referee to bring a player who is persistently dissenting under control but without success, the referees now have the power to eject that player without punishing the entire team by having them play short. 
  • Referees still retain the authority to directly eject a player for foul, abusive, or degrading language. If, in the referee’s opinion, the team does not make deliberate or honest efforts to calm the offending teammate, or when a player’s language is especially foul, abusive, or degrading or becomes threatening to a player or an official, the referee can elect to use the FIFA Red Card law to eject the player. In such an instance, the offending player’s team will play short for the remainder of the match. The offending player will then be required to sit out for a minimum of two matches.

Handling the Ball


In accordance with FIFA and USSF, “A player shall be penalized for deliberately handling, carrying, striking, or propelling the ball with a hand or arm.” In July 2019, FIFA and USSF revised what constitutes handling of the ball:

  • Referees will no longer consider whether a player “deliberately” or “intentionally” handled the ball as the primary criteria for calling a handling offense.
  • Referees will now look at the positioning of the hands or arms to make the player’s body “Unnaturally bigger” either at the sides or above the head. USSF and FIFA have issued implementation instructions that help define “unnaturally bigger” such that if the hands or arms “appear outside the normal silhouette of the body”, then it makes the player bigger and contact with the ball—whether deliberate/intentional or not—is a foul.
  • Contact with the hand or arm, deliberate or not, is an offense if it results in a goal or a goal scoring opportunity for the opposing team following such contact.

Referee discretion on calling handling is allowed from a deliberate play from a teammate who is close enough that contact cannot be avoided, or while falling down and the hand/arm is between the player and the ground.

  • The distance between the player and the ball; the closer the ball is to the play when kicked and hits the hand is less likely to be determined as handling because it was unexpected and the player didn’t have time to try to handle the ball;
  • Touching the ball with an object held in the hand (clothing, shinguard, water bottle, etc) or hitting the ball with an object (shinguard, boot, water bottle, etc) that is thrown or kicked is considered deliberate handling.

As can be seen from the specific language of the law, there is NO language regarding whether the player gained an advantage or not from a ball that struck the hand or arm. The determining factor is whether the player’s hands or arms made his profile “unnaturally bigger” when contact with the ball is made.

FIFA LAW 11--Offside


FIFA continues to make modifications to the offside law, as recently as the laws amended for the 2017-2018 season. These changes often result in confusion for many players, who have played under previous interpretations of the law, but are unfamiliar with the new language and enforcement of FIFA Law 11—Offside. FXA Soccer follows FIFA guidance and will use the 2018-2019 definition and implementation of offside.

  • It is not an offense to be in an off-side position. A player can be in an off-side position, and NOT be penalized. The player also is not considered to be in an off-side position when even with the second to last defender;
  • A player is judged to have committed an off-side offense when:
    • Any part of the head, body, or feet (but not the legs or arms) are in the opponent’s half of the field, wholly across the midfield line;
    • Any part of the head, body, or feet (but not the legs or arms) are nearer the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second to last defender;
  • A player who is in an off-side position at the moment the ball is touched or played by a teammate is ONLY penalized when becoming involved in active play by:
    • Interfering with play by playing or touching a ball passed or touched by a teammate, or interfering with an opponent by:
    • Preventing an opponent from playing or being able to play the ball by clearly obstructing the opponent’s line of vision, or;
    • Challenging an opponent for the ball, or;
    • Clearly attempting to play a ball which is close to him when this action impacts on an opponent, or;
    • Making an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball, or;
    • Gaining an advantage by playing the ball or interfering with an opponent when it has rebounded off the goal post or crossbar or an opponent or it has been deliberately saved by an opponent (not only the goalkeeper)
  • A player in an off-side position who receives the ball from an opponent who deliberately plays the ball (except from a deliberate save) is NOT considered to have gained advantage and thus is not considered off-side;
  • A “Save” is when a player (not just the goalkeeper) stops a ball which is going into or very close to the goal with any part of their body except the hands (unless the goalkeeper within the Penalty Area);
  • There is no offside offense if the player receives the ball directly from a goal kick, corner kick, or throw in;
  • When an off-side offense occurs, the referee will award an indirect free kick where the offense occurred.

Concussion Protocol

Player safety is paramount for FXA Sports. We may assign athletic trainers or medical personnel to some of our matches, but all players assume responsibility for injuries, which can occur.  USSF has mandated that soccer programs at all levels take deliberate steps to address the issue of concussions as they occur in soccer.
FXA Sports will use the following protocol for players who appear to have been involved in an incident in which a concussion might occur:

  • A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that interferes with normal brain function. A player does not have to have suffered a direct blow to the head or lose consciousness (be “knocked out”) to have suffered a concussion.
  • Common Signs/Symptoms of Concussion include (not an exhaustive list):
    • Appears dazed or confused;
    • Is confused about assignment or position;
    • Forgets an instruction;
    • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent;
    • Moves clumsily or has balance problems;
    • Answers questions slowly;
    • Headaches or “pressure” in the head;
    • Sensitivity to light, noise;
  • No player should return to a match on the same day as suffering a concussion;
  • If a referee suspects a player may be suffering effects from a concussion, the player will be immediately replaced (they can be substituted for) and cannot re-enter the match for at least three (3) minutes. During this time, a trained medical personnel (if present), or the player’s teammates (if no trained medical personnel are present) will work with the player to determine if signs of the concussion are present.
  • If after the three (3) minute (or longer) rest period, the player feels prepared to play, they will check in with the closest member of the referee crew. If the referee concurs, the player will be allowed back into the game. If the referee believes the player still exhibits signs of a concussion, the player will not be allowed to re-enter the match.

Major FIFA/USSF Laws Changes in 2019

FXA Soccer implemented the Laws of the Game Modifications in Fall 2019.