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Summary of Changes to the 2017-18 Laws of the Game: the Official Soccer Rules

Posted by Jason Sholl on June 03, 2017

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The new 2017-18 IFAB Laws of the Game are now active. We compiled a summary list of the changes and offer a free e-book download of the latest soccer rules. 

The 2016-17 revision of the Laws of the Game was probably the most far-reaching and comprehensive in The IFAB's history. The aim was to make the Laws clearer, more accessible and to ensure they reflect the needs of the modern game. 

As with any large-scale revision, there is always a second 'follow up' stage and many of the changes for 2017-18 are clarifications which make the text clearer and/or easier to translate – most are the result of requests from individuals, groups and national FAs from around the world. 

In addition to the clarifications, there are some changes which are extensions of principles established in the 2016-17 revision, for example: 

  • the philosophy behind reducing the disciplinary sanction from a sending-off (RC) to a caution (YC) for ‘denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity (DOGSO)’ in the penalty area if the offence is an attempt to play the ball is now applied to ‘stopping a promising attack’ in the penalty area which will not be a caution (YC) if the offence is an attempt to play the ball
  • penalising with a direct free kick a player who enters the field of play without the required referee’s permission and interferes with play, as is the case for a substitute/team official.

The 131st Annual General Meeting of The IFAB in London on 3rd March 2017 also approved some significant changes to help develop and promote football, including:

  • an extension of the flexibility of national FAs (and confederations and FIFA) to modify some of the ‘organisational’ Laws (e.g. increasing the maximum number of substitutes to five, except for the highest level) to help promote and develop the football for which they are responsible as The IFAB believes that national FAs know best what will benefit football in their country
  • the introduction of temporary dismissals (sin bins) as a potential alternative sanction to a caution (YC) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots (lowest levels) football
  • extension of the use of return substitutes to youth, veterans and disability football (they are already permitted in grassroots football).

Be sure to download your e-book copy of the 2017-18 IFAB Laws of the Game, the official rules for soccer.


Download the 2017-18 Laws of the Game


Here is a summary of the changes to the current rules: 

ALL LAWS

  • Replace ‘infringement/infringe’ etc. with ‘offence/offend’ etc.

LAW 1 – The FIELD OF PLAY

  • Artificial turf may be used for the lines on a grass field if not dangerous 

LAW 3 – The Players                                                         

  • National FAs can allow a maximum of five substitutions (except at the top level)
  • National FAs can now allow return substitutions in youth, veterans and disability football
  • Clearer wording for the substitution procedure
  • A substitution made at half-time without informing referee is not a caution (YC) offence
  • Changing the goalkeeper at half-time without informing the referee is not a caution (YC)
  • Player who enters the field of play without the referee’s permission (if it is required) and interferes is punished with a direct free kick (FK)
  • Team scoring a goal with an extra person on the field is punished with a direct FK

LAW 4 – The Players’ Equipment

  • Goalkeeper caps are not included in the list of restrictions on head covers
  • Players are not permitted to wear/use any electronic or communication equipment, except electronic performance and tracking systems/EPTS); technical staff may only use communication equipment for safety/welfare issues
  • All EPTS equipment must bear a minimum safety standard mark

LAW 5 – The Referee

  • Important statement that decisions made by match officials must always be respected
  • National FAs can allow temporary dismissals (sin bins) for some/all cautions (YC) in youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football (Guidelines for both systems will be published)
  • A medical official guilty of a dismissible offence may stay/treat players if no other medical person is available for the team

LAW 7 – The duration of the match

  • A short drinks break is permitted at half-time of extra time

LAW 8 – The Start and Restart of Play

  • Kicker can stand in the opponents’ half at the kick-off 

LAW 10 – DETERMINING THE OUTCOME OF A MATCH

  • Extra time must be two equal periods, maximum 15 minutes each 
Kicks from the penalty mark (KFPM)
  • Corrected wording for goalkeeper who is unable to continue
  • Excluded player may replace a goalkeeper even if team has used all its permitted substitutes
  • Kicker may not play the ball a second time
  • A goalkeeper who offends and the penalty has to be retaken must be cautioned (YC)
  • If the kicker offends the kick is forfeited (recorded as ‘missed’)
  • If the goalkeeper and kicker offend at the same time:
    • retake and two cautions (YCs) if no goal is scored
    • if a goal is scored the kicker is cautioned (YC) and kick recorded as ‘missed’

LAW 11 – offside

  • An offside player can be penalised if the ball rebounds/deflects off a match official
  • Addition of ‘attempts to’ to the definition of a ‘save’
  • Offside guidance:
    • player in offside position who impedes an opponent must be penalised
    • player in offside position who is fouled before committing an offside offence – foul penalised
    • player in offside position who is fouled when already committing an offside offence – offside penalised

 LAW 12 – Fouls and Misconduct

  • Verbal offences are punished with an indirect FK
  • If an advantage is played for a sending-off (RC) and the player commits another offence, that offence is penalised
  • A player ‘stopping a promising attack’ in the penalty area is not cautioned (YC) if the offence was an attempt to play the ball
  • Addition to list of cautions (YCs) for a ‘denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity’ (DOGSO) offence in the penalty area which was an attempt to play the ball
  • Caution (YC) for goal celebration which causes safety/ security issue
  • If player moves diagonally to pass the last defender/goalkeeper this can still be a DOGSO
  • Clearer DOGSO wording for a penalty area offence which is an attempt to play the ball
  • Entering the field of play without permission and stopping a goal or DOGSO is a sending-off
  • Off-field offence by/against a player involving opposing player/substitute/team official (or against a match official) is penalised by FK on the boundary line if the ball is in play
  • Direct FK for throwing or kicking ball/object onto the field to interfere with play/someone
  • Direct FK on boundary line for throwing or kicking ball/object at someone off the field

LAW 13 – Free Kicks

  • Attacker in or entering the penalty area before a defensive FK has left the area cannot play or challenge for the ball until it has been touched by another player 

LAW 14 – The Penalty Kick

  • Kicker must be clearly identified
  • If the goalkeeper and kicker offend at the same time:
    • retake and two cautions (YCs) if no goal is scored
    • if a goal is scored the kicker is cautioned (YC) and kick recorded as ‘missed’ + indirect FK (see Law 10)
  • Goal can be awarded after outside interference if the ball still goes in the goal

 LAW 16 – The Goal Kick

  • Attacker entering the penalty area cannot play or challenge for the ball until it is touched by another player

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Laws of the Game