Laws of Soccer

The first universal 'football' laws were drawn up in 1863 and in 1886 the International Football Association Board (IFAB) was founded as the worldwide body for developing and preserving the Laws of the Game.  FIFA joined the IFAB in 1913.

Rule 1 - Field of Play - BSA matches will have the following field sizes:

U5 - 18-22 m wide x 30-36 m long - Goal Max 4.5 ft x 9 ft W
U7 - 25-30 m wide x 30-36 m long - Goal Min 4.5 ft H x 9 ft W to Max 6.5 ft H x 12 ft W
U9 - 30-36 m wide x 40-55 m long - Goal Min 6.5 ft H x 12 ft W to Max 6.5 ft H x 18.5 ft W
U11 - 42-55 m wide x 60-75 m long - Goal Min 6.5 ft H x 18.5 ft W to Max 8 ft H x 24 ft W
U13 & up - Min 45.7 m (50 yds), max 91.44 m (100 yds) wide x Min 91.44 m (100 yds), max 118.8 m (130 yds) long - Goal 8ft H x 24 ft W

Rule 2 - The Ball - This rule is only applicable for official sanctioned matches, as youth leagues often employ the use of a smaller ball that is better suited to children.

  • U5-U7 = size 3 ball - 23 to 24 inch circumference
  • U9-U11 = size 4 ball - 25 to 26 inch circumference
  • U13 and Up = size 5 ball - 27 to 28 inch circumference

Rule 8 - The Start and Restart of Play

  • All restarts included
  • The ball must kicked and clearly move to be in play for all kicked restarts
  • The ball can be kicked in any direction at Kick-off

Rule 17 - Goal Kicks

  • If the ball directly enters the kicker's goal a corner kick is awarded to the opponents
  • the ball is in play when it leaves the penalty area
  • the ball must be stationary and any player on the defending team may take the goal kick

Rule 9 - The Ball in and out of Play

  • If a ball rebounds of an Match Official it is in play unless it has wholly passed over a boundary line

Rule 4 -The Player's Equipment - All players are required to wear a jersey, shorts, shin guards, socks and cleats. The socks must cover the shin guards entirely. If the referee deems a player’s equipment unsatisfactory, the player can be sent off until the issue is remedied.  U5 players are not to wear cleats while U7 is optional however recommended.


Rule 3 -The Players - BSA plays the following number of players on the field of play for theses age groups:

  • U5 - 3 players - no goalkeeper (3 v 3)
  • U7 - 5 players including 1 goalkeeper per team (5 v 5), some tournaments may play 7 v 7 (if junior league participates)
  • U9 - 7 players including 1 goalkeeper per team (7 v 7) - Minimum is 5 to play
  • U11 - 8 players including 1 goalkeeper per team (8 v 8)- Minimum is 6 to play
  • U13 & Up - 11 players including 1 goalkeeper per team (11 v 11)- Minimum is 7 to play

Rule 7 - The Duration of the Match - BSA matches will have the following duration:

  • U5 - academy style training with scrimmages & small sided games
  • U7 - academy style training with scrimmages & small sided games
  • U9 - two x 30 halves
  • U11 - two x 35 minute halves
  • U13 - two x 40 mins halves
  • U15 & older - two x 45 minutes halves

Rule 10 -Determining the Outcome of a Match

  • The Referee will toss a coin to choose the goal
  • Both teams must have the same number of players before and during the kicks
  • Player temporarily off the field (eg injury) at final whistle can take part

Rule 15 - Throw-Ins

  •  A player must stand to take a throw-in (kneeling, sitting etc. not permitted)

As of 27 Feb 2019, EMSA updated the amount of a game that must be completed for the game to officially count as complete to 2/3 or 66% down from 3/4 or 75%, when the full time cannot be achieved.

Therefore, the following applies:


Total Time Regulation Halves    2/3 Game Time

U15, U17, U19

90 minutes 2 X 45 minutes

60 mins


80 minutes 2 X 40 minutes 53 mins 20 sec
U11 70 minutes 2 X 35 minutes

46 mins 40 sec


60 minutes 2 X 30 minutes

40 mins


50 minutes 2 X 25 minutes

33 mins 20 sec

U5 40 Minutes 2 x 20 Minutes

26 mins 40 sec

Rule 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

Where 2 separate cautionable (YC) offences are committed in close proximity, both cautions (YCs) must be issued; same principle if one is a sending-off offence

A direct free kick is awarded when a player:

  • Foul with contact
  • A deliberate handball
  • Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • Trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • Jumps at an opponent
  • Charges an opponent
  • Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • Pushes an opponent
  • Tackles or Challenges an opponent
  • Holds an opponent
  • Bites or Spits at an opponent
  • Impedes an opponent with contact

If any of these are fouls are committed by a player in their team’s penalty area, the opposing team is awarded a penalty kick.

Indirect free kicks are awarded if a player:

  • Plays in a dangerous manner
  • Impedes the progress of an opponent
  • Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his/her hands
  • Commits any other unmentioned offense

Yellow cards are awarded as a caution or warning to a player and can be issued for the following offenses:

  • Unsporting behavior
  • Dissent by word or action
  • Persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game
  • Delaying the restart of play
  • Failure to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick,free kick, or throw-in
  • Entering or re-entering the field of play without the referee’s permission
  • Deliberately leaving the field of play without the referee’s permission

Red cards are used to send a player off the field, and can be issued for the following offenses:

  • Serious foul play
  • Violent conduct
  • Biting or Spitting at an opponent or any other person
  • Denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (the goalkeeper being an exception)
  • Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offense punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
  • Using offensive or abusive language and/or gestures
  • Receiving a second caution (yellow card) in the same match

Rule 5 - The Referee - The Centre Referee is the authority on the field, and his word is law. If you question a referee’s decision, you can be disciplined further simply for dissent.


Rule 6 - The Other Match Officials - The Assistant Referees (AR) are primarily responsible for assisting the referee in performing his duties – this includes signaling with a flag when a ball goes of play, when a player is fouled, or when a player is in an offside position.

Completion of a Game

* Please also note the 2/3 rule also comes into play with whatever length of the game has been agreed upon by team officials and referees.  So for example, for a U17 game (2 x 45 minute halves) if the weather is cold or stormy and the coaches and referees agree prior to the start of the game that they are only going to play two 35 minute halves instead of the two 45’s, the 2/3 game time mark would be for the two 35 minute halves or 46 min 40 sec.