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WHC Soccer Laws of the Game

WHC Soccer Laws of the Game General Notes:

  1. Unless otherwise stated in this document, the FIFA laws of the game shall apply, as modified by the Maryland State Youth Soccer Associations (MSYSA).
  2. Micro-Soccer is a 3 v 3 variation of the game played in the 4/5 year old group.  These modifications do not apply to micro-soccer.
  3. Refer all questions and comments by email to the WHC Soccer, Inc. Referee Coordinator.  
  4. Referees may submit reports in person to any Board member on the fields on game day.  Staff in the area of can assist in identifying Board members.


Law 1:  Field of Play

  1. Coaches, parents, and all spectators may not stand between the corners of the goal line.  Coaches, players, and all spectators must stand no nearer than 3 feet from the touch line (side line) to provide visibility for assistant referees at all times.
  2. Coaches, parents, and spectators may not stand along the touch line (side line) between the goal line and the edge of the penalty area.
  3. Coaches and 1 assistant shall coach only from their assigned side line.
  4. (Age 4-7 only) During the play of the game, a coach from each team will be allowed on the field of play and will act as referees for that particular game.  These coaches will also assist players in proper ball movement, player position, and basic fundamentals.
  5. (Age 6-7 only)  The penalty spot shall be midway between the goal line and the penalty area line.


Law 2:  The Ball

              Age                   Ball Size

              4-7                       (3)

              8-11                     (4)

              12-18                   (5)


Law 3:  Number of Players (on field)

               Age                   Minimum     Maximum

               4-5                         3                  3

               6-9                         7                  9

               10-18                     7                  11

  1. If any given team does not have the sufficient amount of players at the start of the game, the Board recommends the game shall not be delayed or forfeited but shall be played with the players present even if borrowing players from the opposing team occurs to make the minimum number of players required.
  2. Unlimited substitution may be made;
    1. Prior to a throw-in by the team in possession of the ball
    2. Prior to a goal kick by wither team
    3. After a goal by either team
    4. Between quarters (ages 6-9), by either team
    5. Between halves by either team
  3. If the referee stops play for an injury the injured player(s) must be substituted.  If no substitute is available the referee will decide whether the player can safely continue.  If it is determined that it is not safe for the player to return and the player court is below minimum required, the opposing team must remove a player to make the team counts even.  When any injured players are substituted on a given team the opposing team may substitute an equal number of players.
  4. Any player who has been showed the yellow card (warning) must be substitute at the time of the infraction, unless it causes the team to have less than the minimum number of players on the field.
  5. Substitutions are not permitted for players sent-off (shown the red card) from the game.  If this means the team cannot field the minimum number of players, the referee will terminate the game.
  6. A substitution must be made for a player who is bleeding.  A player is bleeding if blood transfers to a dry cloth touched to the injured area.  External wounds must be covered and evident blood must be dried before re-entering play.
  7. In the event that a full sided team (11 players fielded) has fewer than 10 players at a match, the opposing team will be limited to a 1 player advantage.  If more players arrive during the match, the coach of the disadvantaged team must notify the Referee that a player is being added.  Both teams may add a player at this time until the maximum number of players is reached.
  8. In the event that a team gains a FOUR point advantage over its opponent;
    1. Full-sided play (11 v 11) 1 player for every 4 points must be removed from the advantaged team removed from the advantaged team.  This should be discussed at the start of the match with both coaches and the referees present.  The referee will be responsible for the stop of play at the time of the four point advantage.
    2. For 7 v 7 or 9 v 9 a player should be added to the team that does not have the 4 point advantage.


Law 4: Player’s Equipment

  1. Players shall wear official team shirt and socks.  Referees may permit substitute uniform parts if, in the Referee’s opinion, they do not interfere with officiating the match.
  2. Metal cleats, shoes with toe cleats (baseball shoes), jewelry (including stud ear rings), and hats with hard brims are NOT permitted.
  3. The Referee may prohibit any other items, such as loose bandages or an inadequately padded casts, if in the referee’s opinion may present danger to any game participant, including the player.  If the player cannot remove the prohibited item, the player can not play.
  4. Any thermal or supportive garments worn under the required uniform are allowed.


Law 5: Referees

  1. Players, coaches, spectators, and parents must respect the authority of the Referee and refrain from interrupting or obstructing the Referee’s conduct of the game.  The Referee/s power to punish misconduct extends to coaches, parents, and other spectators.  Should playing conditions deteriorate such that, in the opinion of the Referee, the plays derive by playing under such conditions, the Referee can terminate play.
  2. Referees may be assigned to 6-7 year old games.  If no referees are assigned, one coach from either team will officiate the game and explain why a given foul is called so that players can better understand what they did wrong.
  3. When any participant is sent off the field from a game, or a game is terminated for any reason, the Referee must submit a written report to the Board.  The Board will decide the status of the game and any further action taken.
  4. When and if a game is suspended for lightning, the Referee shall require all players, coaches, and spectators to abandon the field and seek shelter (not under trees).  The Referee shall record the time remaining of the match and report to the Board as to when, and if, to resume play.


Law 6: Linesman

  1. In games where Assistant Referees are not provided, if requested by the Referee, each team may provide a club linesman, who will signal out of play ONLY.  Club linesman will not make any other calls, such as direction or substitution.  If at any time a club linesman is coaching or interfering with play in any way the Referee may remove the responsibility of club linesman from that person.


Law 7: Duration of the Game

  1. League game times shall be as follows (minutes):

               Age                 Periods           Length           Half Time      Qtr Break

                4-5                    4                     8                     5                    2

                 6-7                   4                     10                   5                    2

                 8-9                   4                     12                   5                    2

                10-18                2                     30                   5                   N/A


Law 8: Start of Play

In games played in four quarters, the team loosing the coin toss shall kick off the first half (quarters 1 and 2).  The team winning the coin toss shall kick off the second half (quarters 3 and 4).


Law 9: Ball In and Out of Play

Balls that rebound on to the field of play from multi-purpose structures above the soccer crossbar are dead.  The Referee shall signal the restart that would be appropriate had the ball gone out of play.


Law 10: Method of Scoring – No changes


Law 11: Offside

  1. (Age 6-7 Only) No offside shall be called due to the coaches officiating the game.
  2. Offside can be called at any age group, 8 year olds and up, as is strictly the Referee’s discretion.


Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct

Referees are reminded that this is an instructional league and are requested to tell offending player what call has been made and why.  The Referee DOES NOT have to explain any call to any other persons present until asked at a quarter or halftime (not to interrupt progress of the match).

  1. Any player, coach, or spectator sent off from a match, whether or not the Referee uses a red card to signal the send-off, is automatically suspended from participation in the next match played by that send-off.  The Board may impose additional sanctions, depending on the nature and the severity of the violation leading to the send-off.
  2. NO PLAYER may challenge the goalkeeper while the ball is in the goalkeeper’s possession.  Possession is interpreted as having at least one hand TOUCHING the ball.  For age 6-7 the coaches who are officiating the game shall explain to the players when and if the foul occurs.  For ages 8 & 9 the Referee shall verbally warn for the first infringement, followed by a caution (yellow card) for Unsporting Behavior for any subsequent offense.  For all other ages, the Referee shall issue a caution (yellow card) for the first offense.

Note: A hand ball call occurs when any player plays the ball from the shoulder down to the hand.


Law 13: Free Kick – No changes

Law 14: Penalty Kick – No changes


Law 15: Throw In

  1. Age 6-7 – When the coaches are officiating the game, if the first attempt at any throw in is deemed a foul, the coach should explain the infraction, demonstrate the correct form, and permit a second throw in.
  2. Ages 8-9 – When the first attempt at any throw is a foul, the Referee may explain the infraction and allow a second throw.  If a pattern develops with any given player, a second throw will not be allowed and a throw in will be awarded to the opposing team.


Law 16: Heading- See below regarding recent significant changes about heading from US Soccer due to safety concerns.

Players in age 13 programs and younger shall not engage in heading, either in practices or in games.

Limited heading in practice for players in 14 and older programs. More specifically, these players shall be limited to a maximum of 15 minutes of heading training per week, with no more than 15-20 headers per player, per week.   

Referees should enforce these restrictions by age group according to the specified rules. Referees will not be assessing the age of individual players on the field; they will enforce the rules for the age group.

In adherence to these new requirements, referees have been instructed by U.S. Soccer of the following rule addition: When a player deliberately heads the ball in a game, an indirect free kick (IFK) should be awarded to the opposing team from the spot of the offense. If the deliberate header occurs within the goal area, the indirect free kick should be taken on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred


Law 17: Goal Kick – No changes


Law 18: Corner Kick – No changes