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Rules of the Game
  • 9/16/2019

    The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee is now accepting your rules change proposals. Each accepted proposal will be considered for placement on the annual rules survey, which will be distributed in early November. The rules committee will discuss all new rules proposals at its annual meeting in March. 

    Please click here to read the memo.
     

  • 4/25/2019

    Please cilck the link to view 2019 Major Rules Changes.

  • 11/3/2016

    As the regular season begins to wind down, officials need to review Rule 7.1.1.1 in order to administer kicks from the penalty spot correctly.  Let’s start with the basics.  Any player listed on the game roster who has not been ejected is eligible to participate.  There is no requirement that the players on the field at the end of overtime be the ones to participate.  Each team must designate 10 kickers.  The goalkeeper may be one of the ten to take a kick, or a team may designate ten kickers and a goalkeeper who will not take a kick to defend against the kicks.  Please note that teams are not required to specify which orders the players will kick in; the officials should record each player’s number and the result of the kick as the tie-breaker proceeds.  If the tie-breaker goes beyond ten kicks, teams are free to change the order.

    The visiting team calls the coin toss, and the winner of the toss has the option to kick first or second.  Rule 7.1.1.2 states that the referee shall determine which goal will be used.  There is no official guidance on what factors to use, but here are a few to consider.  First, what are the field conditions like?  If the area around one penalty spot or goal line is significantly better than the other, use that end.  Second, what about time of day?  Do not make the goalkeepers squint into the setting sun when facing a penalty kick.  Third, which end of the field is better from an administrative purpose?  Are there fans legally seated behind one goal but not the other?  If so, go to the end with no fans.  Try for as equitable a situation as possible.  Prior to beginning the kicks, make sure that the designated players from each team are in the center circle along with one of the Assistant Referees, who will record the kicking order and the results.  All coaches and bench personnel should be in the designated coaching and team areas.  The other Assistant Referee should serve as a goal judge, and the non-participating goal-keeper shall be at the intersection of the penalty area and goal lines behind the Assistant Referee.    

    Once the kicks have begun, there are only two situations in which the goalkeeper can be changed.  First, if the goalkeeper is ejected during the kicks, he or she may be replaced by any other eligible player on the roster.  Note that if the goalkeeper was not designated as a kick prior to the ejection, the replacement goalkeeper may not participate as a kicker.  The second situation in which the goalkeeper can be changed is if there is an injury, which must be certified by the attending physician or athletic trainer in conjunction with the NCAA representative (if an NCAA tournament game) or with the governing sports authority (if a conference tournament game).  If one of the designated kickers is ejected during the tie-breaker, the opposing team has the option to reduce the number of kickers in its order to avoid having their 10th player kick against the 1st player from the opposing team.

    The kicks themselves are taken in accord with Rule 14.2.  Of particular note to officials is that run ups that include a stutter-step or hesitation are legal as long as there is no stopping and there is a continuous movement toward the ball.  The punishment of violations during kicks from the spot is straightforward.  If the goalkeeper comes off the line too early, the kick is retaken if a goal is not scored.  If the kicker commits a violation prior to the ball being in play, he or she can be cautioned or ejected as appropriate and the kick retaken as the ball was not properly put into play. 

    Finally, officials need to keep in mind A.R. 14.4.a, which defines when the kick is considered over.  The kick is completed when the ball completely crosses the goal line, the goalkeeper clearly saves the ball, or the movement of the ball has ceased.  If the ball keeps moving without leaving the field of play and strikes any combination of the goalkeeper, crossbar, goalposts, or the field and then enters the goal, it is a valid goal. 

    Officials need to keep in mind that the rules for conducting the tie-breaker are quite specific and can easily lead to a protest if misapplied.  Each official is responsible for knowing the rules and administering them properly.  Best of luck with the post season!

  • 10/31/2016


    Click here to view the Offside ~ No Offside video clip.

    A player is penalized for offside infraction if she clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to her when this action impacts on an opponent.

    Does player white #25 in an offside position clearly attempt to play the ball?
    Is the ball close to her?
    Does her action impact, in this case, the opposing goalkeeper?

    The answer to all three questions is "yes".  Therefore, this is an offside offense.

    Referee & Assistant Referee show good teamwork by using recommended communication technique to discuss player position & involvement from each of their viewing positions to piece together individual information for complete picture of possible offside situation.

  • 10/4/2016

    Chris Penso – NCAA Championship & MLS Referee


    Prior to the match

    - Wear in a position on your belt which allows you to remain comfortable running and in all other duties. This could be the front, back, or side. If using for the first time and unsure, wear the spray during warm ups.

    - Ensure the canister works properly by testing a small amount outside of the locker room.

    - Ensure a backup canister is available at the 4th Officials table if the canister feels to be less than half full.

     

    During the match

    - Utilize the spray within 30 yards of goal when teams have asked for distance or opponents have hindered the restart of play and a ceremonial restart is necessary. This is merely a general rule of thumb, but the spray can be utilized on free kicks in the midfield when necessary.

    - After indicating to all players that the restart is ceremonial and on the whistle, spray a small half circle around the ball to indicate the location of the free kick.

    - Walk off 10 yards. As a general rule of thumb, walk in line with the goal post nearest the free kick. This way upon reaching 10 yards, you can spray from outside-in. This will prevent you from having to walk "through" the retreating players who are being lined up on the post by the GK. Additionally, you will be closer to your optimum position for the restart of play. 

    - Do your best to avoid spraying a line that requires you to bend down directly in front of the players. Best practice is to walk past the retreating wall, put down the line, and have the players back up to it. 

    - Spray a line that is appropriate for the number of players setting up in the wall. 

    - If the wall has been set inside the penalty area, take a moment to publicly remind the players on the use of theirs hands/arms. 


    Post match

    - Return the canister and holster to school personnel. This is not yours to keep. Schools and conferences are taking an additional and unnecessary cost to aid in your efficiency and effectiveness as a referee.

  • 9/28/2016

    Please view Offside Clip 1 and Clip 2, along with the comments for each.

    OFFSIDE CLIP 1

    The Nebraska attacker is correctly ruled Offside as she clearly attempts to play the ball.

    IFAB Guidance on Offside:

    · The offside player clearly attempts to play a ball which is close to her and this action impacts an opponent.

    · The offside player makes an obvious action which clearly impacts on the ability of an opponent to play the ball.

    OFFSIDE CLIP 2

    Correct decision for No Offside.  Even though it seems obvious that the attacker in an offside position was going to play the ball, an attacker from an on-side position makes an attacking run through the mid-field to play the ball. 

    This is an example of how important it is for ARs to always “wait and see”, and to not anticipate no matter how obvious an outcome seems at the time.

  • 9/19/2016

    By: Todd Abraham


    The IFAB has issued a series of documents outlining changes to the Laws of the Game effective June 1, 2016. The significant changes listed below do not currently apply to the NCAA rules:

    Change: The ball can be kicked in any direction, including backward, at kick-off (previously, the ball had to go forward first);
    NCAA Rule: The NCAA rules still require that the ball be played forward at the kick-off. An incorrect kick-off (if the player kicks the ball into his / her own half of the field) requires a re-kick by the same team. Repeat violations may be cautioned. An illegal kick-off (touching the ball a second time before another player touches it) results in an indirect kick for the opponent.
    Preventive officiating tip: If you see only one player standing over the ball at the kick-off remind the player the ball must go forward.

    Change: Players who are injured as a result of a red card/yellow card foul, now may be treated on the field by medical personnel and stay on the field (previously, any treatment by medical personnel required the player to leave the field and referee had to signal the player back on);
    NCAA Rule: NCAA rules require that a player treated on the field must leave the field and may be substituted. There is a substitution exception for this situation, however, the player must leave the field.

    Change: Not all fouls that deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity will result in a red card (send-off offense), but rather, depending on the circumstances, the player may be shown a yellow card if the offense is within an opponent’s penalty area.
    NCAA Rule: NCAA rules have no such exception. Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity is an offense that requires an ejection whether it occurs in the penalty area or outside the penalty area.

  • 9/12/2016


    NCAA Rule 11 - Offside

    Q: Can a player on the halfway line be offside?
    A: NO – the halfway line is ‘neutral’ for offside – a player has to be in the opponents’ half to be in an offside position.

    Q: Are a player’s arms/hands considered as part of the player’s body when judging offside?
    A: The hands or arms are not included when judging offside position; this is true for all players, including the goalkeepers. This view is supported by and helps assistant referees as it is often difficult to identify the exact position of the hands and arms.

    Q: The rule now interprets that the IDFK for offside can be taken in the player’s own half but how can this be correct?
    A: It is correct because: a) a player CAN NOT be in an offside POSITION in their own half  b) a player CAN commit an offside OFFENCE in their own half if they go back into their own half from an offside position. (With the exception of offences in the goal area, throughout the Rules every free kick is awarded from the place where the offence occurs, so it is logical that this should also apply to offside)

    Q: Can a player who interferes with play after a rebound or save be given offside?
    A: YES – interfering with an opponent or play after a rebound or save is clearly an offside offence if the player was originally in an offside position.

    Q: For how long is a defending player who goes off the field of play during an opponents’ attack technically on the goal line for offside?
    A: It is unfair that a defender who goes off the field of play (often through injury) remains ‘active’ on the goal line until play next stops as play can continue for a long time. The new wording makes it clear that once the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area, that ‘phase of play’ has ended and the defender is no longer ‘active’ for offside. This will require alertness from assistant referees and good communication between the referee and assistant referee.

    Q: How can an attacking player gain a non-offside advantage when returning to the field of play?
    A: The player could come back onto the field of play without the other team being aware and then receive a pass or make a challenge.  If the player is penalized for offside no advantage has been gained so there is no need for a caution (YC).

    Q: Can an attacking player in the goal net be penalized for offside?
    A: Yes, if the player commits an offside offence.

    Although there may be differences in verbiage, the NCAA Rules follow the IFAB Offside interpretation.  The preceding Q&A are taken from the recent IFAB Offside Law change interpretation.

  • 11/11/2015

    By Don Dennison


    Not all referees are fortunate enough to be assigned to post-season matches, conference tournaments or NCAA tournament matches.  If you are one of the lucky ones, it is imperative that you commit to memory the proper procedures for handling such matches when there is no winner after the regulation 90 minutes of the match plus two 10 minute sudden victory overtime periods.

    In such circumstances it is necessary to determine a winner by means of kicks from the penalty spot (or line) as proscribed in NCAA Rule 7.1 .  On a personal note, please don’t refer to these as “penalty kicks” as used by the uninformed press and media.  There has been no penalty assessed, they are kicks that are taken from the penalty mark.

    More...
  • 10/26/2015

    Please click here to view the Fighting Rule Review 2015 presentation.

  • 10/14/2015


    Allowable Substitution Times:
       
    -Goal Kick
    -Team’s own throw-in (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)  
    -Team’s own corner kick (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)
    -After a goal
    -Between periods
    -When a player has been cautioned (sub may occur for the player(s) cautioned; if such sub is made the opponent may sub an equal number of players)

    More...
  • 10/9/2015

    Please click here to view the Offside presentation.

  • 11/11/2014


    (Click here to view as a PDF)

    (Click here to view the DOGSO video clips)


    NCAA Rules 12.3.5 and 12.3.6 refers to ejections for the denial of an obvious goal-scoring opportunity either by deliberately handling the ball or by an offense punishable by a free kick or penalty kick.

    The factors for deciding when to penalize for denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity are as follows:

    1. The direction of the play.
    2. The distance between the offense and the goal.
    3. The distance of both the attacker and defender to the ball.
    4. The number of defenders and their location.

    When making a decision for DOGSO there must be an opportunity for an obvious attempt at goal as well as the likelihood of the attacker gaining (or keeping) control of the ball.  The wider the angle of attack and further away the attacker is from the goal, the less chance that an obvious goal-scoring opportunity is denied.

    Many coaches, players and spectators often refer to a DOGSO as the “last man” foul.  The NCAA rule makes no reference to the “last man”.  The main aspect of this rule is the word “obvious”.  Therefore if the referee has any doubts as to whether or not all of the factors exist, the player should not be sent off for DOGSO.  

  • 10/16/2014


    CAA Soccer Rule 5.6.7; Injury and Signs of Concussion

    by John Puglisi

    (Click here to view as a PDF)

    Players with a bleeding injury, blood on the uniform or signs of a concussion shall be substituted for and may re-enter the game (after being beckoned by the referee) at any stoppage of play or at any of the allowable times for normal substitution, provided they have received clearance from the appropriate medical personnel. Neither the injured player nor the substitute shall be charged with a substitution. However, if the injured player replaces a player other than the original substitute, that player shall be charged with a substitution.

    It is the referee's responsibility under Rule 5.6.7 to determine whether the injured player is leaving the field under Rule 5.6.7.1 (general injury) or Rule 5.6.7.2 (signs of concussion). The referee can and should consult with the onsite medical staff to assist in this determination. If the player is leaving under Rule 5.6.7.1 and is substituted, the player's re-entry is limited under Rule 3.5.3.3 (the player shall not re-enter the game in that period with the exception that the player is permitted one re-entry in the second period). Players leaving the field under Rule 5.6.7.2 are allowed to re-enter in that period subject to Rule 3.5.3.2. Recommended procedure when the game is stopped to evaluate an apparent head injury:

    • Stop the game immediately and summon medical staff onto the field to attend to the injured player;
    • Before restarting play, make sure the assistant referees (especially AR1), the Alternate Official (if present), the official scorekeeper and both coaches are informed of the player's re-entry eligibility. The Referee is encouraged to consult with the onsite medical staff before play is restarted to make a determination of whether the injury is general in nature or if the player presents signs of concussion.
    • After the match, report the injury to the governing sports authority if the player presents signs of concussion or does not return to the match.

    Emphasize the timing of making the determination before play is restarted because this is a potential player eligibility matter and may be subject to protest. The player's re-entry eligibility must be determined before play is restarted to eliminate the potential for protest.

  • 9/19/2014

    SUPPLEMENT NO. 2c

    RED CARD REPORTING

    Rule 12.3* requires that for every ejection, the referee must electronically file a report within 24 hours of completion of the game on the NCAA Soccer Central Hub website at www.NCAAsoccer.arbitersports.com. It is mandatory that the red card report be filed with the NCAA. The failure to file red card reports have led to multiple problems, including suspended players failing to serve suspensions and illegally participating in games.

    As summarized in the chart below entitled "Red Card Depository Compared to NCAA Statistics" -- only 69% of the red cards issued in 2013 were electronically filed with the NCAA by the referee.


    1329 red cards were issued -- 919 red card reports were electronically filed. This is not acceptable and must be corrected immediately. 100% of the red cards must be reported in the 2014 season.

    *Rule 12.3 Ejections. An ejection is a formal disciplinary action requiring specific procedures to be followed by the referee including stopping the clock, suspending play and displaying a red card. For all ejections, the referee shall electronically complete and file the appropriate form(s) located on the NCAA Soccer Central Hub website at www.NCAAsoccer.arbitersports.com within 24 hours of completion of the game.

  • 9/12/2014


    Allowable Substitution Times (Rule 3.4):

    • Goal Kick
    • Team’s own throw-in (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)
    • Team’s own corner kick (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)
    • After a goal
    • Between periods
    • When a player has been cautioned (sub may occur for the player(s) cautioned; if such sub is made the opponent may sub an equal number of players)

    Re-Entry (Rule 3.5):

    • When a substitute replaces a field player during the first half: 

    ·  The player leaving the game may not re-enter during the first half.

    • When a substitute replaces a field player during the second half: 

    ·  Any player who has left the game may re-enter one time during the second half.

    • When a substitute replaces a field player during either overtime period:

    ·  The player leaving the game may not re-enter during either overtime period.

    • Goalkeepers:

    ·  The goalkeeper who started the game may re-enter once each period provided the only position they play is goalkeeper. 

    ·  If the starting goalkeeper remains in the game as a field player, they are not allowed to re-enter as goalkeeper except during the second half. 

    ·  If a substitute replaces the starting goalkeeper who goes to the bench, the starting goalkeeper may return to the game as goalkeeper.  This may happen once each period. 

    ·  A substitute goalkeeper may re-enter only during the second period.

    Injuries (Rule 3.5):

    • Injury caused by an opponent who was cautioned or ejected:

    ·  Injured player may be substituted for and can re-enter in the same period.

    ·  Neither the injured player nor the substitute is charged with a substitution.

    • Bleeding Injury/Blood on Uniform and Signs of Concussion:

    ·  Injured player may be substituted for and can re-enter in the same period.

    ·  Neither the injured player nor the substitute is charged with a substitution  (must be the original substitute).

    ·  A player with signs of a concussion must be cleared by team physician or designee

    • Normal Injury/Illness:

    ·  Field players substituted for a normal injury shall not re-enter the game in the 1st half (one re-entry in the second half)

    ·  An injured player who leaves the field and the team plays short may re-enter the game during the run of play or at any stoppage of play from the halfway line on the bench side of the field.

    Substitutions During Last 5 Minutes (Rule 3.6.2):

    • ANYTIME the team leading makes a substitution during the final five minutes of the second period only, the clock shall stop.

    Equipment Violation (Rule 3.4.8):

    • A player who leaves the field for an equipment violation, may be substituted for under normal substitution rules. 
    • If the player is not replaced and the team plays short, then the player may return to the game at the next stoppage of play.
  • 11/21/2013

    Lightning is dangerous.  That’s pretty obvious and the NCAA Rules (Appendix C) cover a general protocol and approach and the 2013 Sports Medicine Handbook Guideline 1E has a more detailed perspective.  Ultimately, these rules and protocol are put in place to ensure the safety of the participants and spectators.  While they outline a general set of guidelines and recommendations, nothing replaces the common sense and eyes/ears of the referee crew.  It is the crew’s responsibility to ensure the conditions are safe to the best of their ability utilizing all the information that they have available.  The referee should rely on all available information that might include a lightning detection system, direct links to a local meteorological professional, real time radar scans and of course, what he can hear and see.  For NCAA postseason games, this is the responsibility of the NCAA games committee.

    Deciding not to start a game due to lightening may be a controversial decision for some of those involved; however, the safety of the participants is the paramount consideration.  Teams may have traveled a long distance to play an important game and the compactness of the collegiate season may limit options for rescheduling games.  These economic and competitive considerations cannot take precedence over the players’ safety.  There have been some situations where referees have been asked to allow games to be played when the conditions were questionable due to the “importance” of the match or the “difficulty rescheduling.”  It is the referee’s responsibility to act in the interest of safety first!  If there are conflicting pieces of information such as an on-site detection system indicating lightning in the area and a weather professional or radar indicating the system has moved far enough away to be safe, err on the side of safety until the information can be aligned.

    The NCAA rules also cover the amount of time allowed for lightning delays.  Rule 10.11 states, “With reference to game interruptions and the length of waiting time beyond which the game cannot be started and/or restarted: No contest may be started or resumed that has not been restarted before an additional 90 minutes after the conclusion of a regulation 90-minute game, unless mutually agreed upon before the game or by conference policy.   Once a game begins and later is suspended for weather, the contest should be restarted in 90 minutes or should be restarted within the amount of time the games committee predetermined before the start of the game.  If it has reached beyond the 70th minute, it is a complete contest unless it is a Division I postseason contest, which must play the full 90 minutes.  If the game cannot be completed the same day, it must be replayed in its entirety.

  • 11/19/2013

    The NCAA deals very strictly with fighting and fighting ejections.  

    What is a fight?

    •  A fight is defined as a deliberate strike or punch or an attempt to strike or punch another player, official, coach or bench personnel.  These acts include, but are not limited to, kicking, head-butting, hair pulling or an open-handed strike if done deliberately and in a malicious manner.
    •  A player, coach or bench personnel shall be ejected if he or she is guilty of fighting or leaves the coaching area to participate in an altercation. (Note:   A coach or team representative [but not a player or substitute] may leave the coaching area during an altercation, providing it is an attempt to restore order.)
     

    How do you report it during the game?

    •  The referee shall inform the player(s), the head coach(s) and the official scorekeeper, who shall record on the official NCAA box score form, that an ejection for fighting has been issued.


    How do you report it after the game?

    •  The referee shall electronically complete and file the fight reporting form located on the NCAA Soccer Central Hub website at https://NCAAsoccer.arbitersports.com within 24 hours of completion of the game.  Notification of the fighting ejection(s) and two-game suspension shall be sent by the NCAA national office to the offending individual’s institution and the governing sports authority.
    •  The “points of emphasis” in the NCAA rules book states: “All references in the rules book to reports required to be filed by the referee refer to reports that must be dispatched electronically within 24 hours after the completion of the game to which the report relates.  (Exception: Referees shall file fighting report immediately after the game.)  

     

  • 9/30/2013


    PLAYERS AND SUBSTITUTES:

    Allowable Substitution Times:
       
    -Goal Kick
    -Team’s own throw-in (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)  
    -Team’s own corner kick (if the team in possession chooses to substitute the opposing team may also substitute)
    -After a goal
    -Between periods
    -When a player has been cautioned (sub may occur for the player(s) cautioned; if such sub is made the opponent may sub an equal number of players)


    PLAYERS AND SUBSTITUTES:

    Re-Entry:

    When a substitute replaces a field player during the first half:

    --The player leaving the game may not re-enter during the first half.
     
    When a substitute replaces a field player during the second half:

    --Any player who has left the game may re-enter one time during the second half.
     
    When a substitute replaces a field player during either overtime period:

    --The player leaving the game may not re-enter during that particular overtime period (just like the first half of the game).  Each overtime period is treated as a separate period.  A player who is substituted for in the first overtime period MAY play in the second overtime period.


    Goalkeepers:

    -The goalkeeper who started the game may re-enter once each period provided the only position they play is goalkeeper.

    -If the starting goalkeeper remains in the game as a field player, they are not allowed to re-enter as goalkeeper except during the second half.

    -If a substitute replaces the starting goalkeeper who goes to the bench, the starting goalkeeper may return to the game as goalkeeper.  This may happen once each period.

    -A substitute goalkeeper may re-enter only during the second period.

    -If a goalkeeper is ejected, the coach may substitute for the ejected goalkeeper only.  If a substitution is made, a field player shall be removed.  The opponents may not substitute at this time.


    INJURIES:

    Injury caused by an opponent who was cautioned or ejected:

    -Injured player may be substituted for and can re-enter in the same period at any stoppage of play or at any of the allowable times for normal substitutions.
    -Neither the injured player nor the substitute is charged with a substitution.

    Bleeding Injury and Signs of Concussion:

    -Injured player may be substituted for and can re-enter in the same period at any stoppage of play or at any of the allowable times for normal substitutions provided the appropriate medical personnel have given clearance.
    -Neither the injured player nor the substitute is charged with a substitution.
    -A player with signs of a concussion must be cleared by team physician or designee according to the concussion management plan

    Normal Injury/Illness:

    -Field players substituted for a normal injury shall not re-enter the game in the 1st half (one re-entry in the second half)
    -An injured player who leaves the field and the team plays short may re-enter the game during the run of play or at any stoppage of play from the halfway line on the bench side of the field.
     

  • 9/13/2012

    Please click here to read Update on Artificial Noisemakers and Red Card Reporting, a memorandum from Ken Andres, secretary-rules editor, NCAA Men's and Women's Soccer Rules Committee.

  • 9/10/2012

    Please click here to read Rules Issues: Overtime and Fight Protocols, a message from Ken Andres, NCAA Soccer Secretary-Rules Editor.

  • 7/31/2011

    See the NCAA Soccer Rules Book for a field specifications diagram.  To see the diagram, click here and then click "Figure" in the toolbar.

 
 
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