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FIFA/AYSO 2016 Law Changes

No Heading rule

The new rule bans heading for all U-11 and below division players. If an AYSO program doesn’t have single age divisions, heading is banned for U-12 and below. Heading for players in U-14 will be limited to a maximum of thirty (30) minutes per week with no more than 15-20 headers, per player.  There is no restriction on heading in matches in U-13 and above.

The new policy includes that an indirect free kick will be awarded to the opposing team if a player age 10 or younger, deliberately touches the ball with his/her head during a game. The indirect free kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head. An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s penalty area, must be taken on the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the player touched the ball with his/her head. This policy was put into effect so referees, coaches and players can all align with the change quicker.

Safety is very important to AYSO as a whole. Heading was already banned for U-10 and below and extending it to U-11/U-12 was a way to ensure that players are older and more developed when attempting heading to avoid preventable head injuries.

FIFA Law Changes

The most significant change to the Laws is the removal of the controversial “triple punishment” requirement.  In the current Laws, if a defender fouls an attacker in the defender’s own penalty area, and the referee determines that the defender should be sent off for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity, the defender (and their team) is subject to three punishments:

  1. The defender is sent-off (and the team must play with one less player)
  2. The attacking team is awarded a penalty kick.
  3. The defender is subject to a further suspension (which varies by league, but ranges from 1 to 3 games).

Under the revised Laws, if the defender is making a legitimate attempt to play the ball and simply mis-times a tackle, for example, the defender will be cautioned instead of sent off. This only applies to fouls committed inside the penalty area, and only when the referee determines there was a legitimate attempt to play the ball.  If the defender should, for example, grab the jersey of the attacker, the defender would still be subject to being sent off.

Further, if the foul occurs outside of the penalty area, the defender would continue to be subject to a send off, consistent with the current edition of the Laws.

Other changes to the Laws include:

  • A kick-off may now be kicked in any direction, including backwards
  • Players who are injured as the result of a reckless or excessive force challenge (resulting in a caution or send off to the offender) will not be required to leave the field of play to receive treatment, if treatment can be handled expeditiously
  • Goalkeepers who come off their line during a penalty kick will be cautioned if the kick fails, in addition to the kick being re-taken
  • If the kicker of the penalty kick violates the Laws, the kick will no longer be retaken and play will be restarted with an indirect free kick for the defending team
  • If opposing players are off the field of play (through the course of normal play) and one commits a foul, play will be restarted with the appropriate free kick, on the touchline or goal line.  Under the current Laws, play restarts with a dropped ball, as only misconduct and not fouls can be committed off the field of play.  The example given by Mr Elleray to illustrate is when a pair of opponents go off the field during the run of play, and one grabs the other to prevent him/her from re-entering the field of play.  The team of the player whose shirt was grabbed will now be awarded a free-kick on the appropriate boundary line.  Note that this could result in a penalty kick being awarded.
  • Offside restarts will be taken from the point on the field where the offending player was when they became offside.  Under the current Laws, the restart would be taken from the point where they were originally in an offside position.  (Editor’s note: it will be interesting to see how the Assistant Referee mechanics might be updated to handle a situation where a player starts a play from an offside position in the attacking half of the field and then becomes involved in active play on the defending half of the field)
  • Taking of a corner kick, the ball must be stationary and is kicked by a player of the attacking team.  The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area.  The referee will make the final determination whether the ball clearly moved or not. No longer can an attacking player just "tap" the ball with their feet to put it into active play.

There are other minor changes to the Laws, but I’ve attempted to list what I believe to be the most significant changes.  

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