12 Rules

Updated Following The FA’s Youth Review

 

The FA want junior football to be calmer and safer creating the right environment for faster development. These rules will also encourage players to be more skilful and make matches more competitive.

Calmer and Safer

Silent Sidelines Rule

Spectators are encouraged to applaud both teams (eg clap when a goal is scored) but must not shout or call out. [Law 1]

Slide Tackling Rule

On medical advice, no slide tackles are allowed. A free kick will be given in every instance. [Law 12]

Blue Card Rule

A Blue Card is shown for any cautionable offence resulting in a 2 minute Sin Bin (5 minutes at 9v9). [Law 12]

Respect Marks Rule

After every match, referees will award marks to players, coaches and spectators from both teams. [Law 12]

Faster Development

No Instructions Rule

Coaches may ask questions that prompt players to think for themselves but must not shout instructions during matches. [Law 1]

Equal Playing Time Rule

All squad members must receive equal playing time with at least 50% per player for each game. [Law 3]

All Positions Rule

All squad members must be given regular experience playing in all positions, including goalkeeper. [Law 3]

More Skillful

Retreat Line Rule

When goalkeeper has possession, opposition must retreat to halfway. Keeper must pass to own player in own half. [Law 16]

Pass Back Rule

Because goalkeepers need to practice their footwork, they cannot pick up the ball from a pass back. [Law 12]

More Competitive

Mixed Teams Rule

To maximise competition clubs must field teams of similar ability – ie not ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams.

[Law 3]

Power Play Rule

If any team goes 4 goals ahead, the other team may field an extra player until the goal difference is reduced to 3 goals. [Law 3]

Equal Numbers Rule

If a team has too few players, the other must lend them willing subs or withdraw players to make numbers even. [Law 3]

League Rules

Respect League Match Rules

 

Law 1 – Playing area

Field surface

Football matches may be played on natural or artificial surfaces Futsal matches should be played on flat, smooth and non-abrasive surfaces

Pitch size

The size of the pitch for each age group and format is as follows:

U7s, U8s (5v5) 40 x 30 yards

U9s, U10s (7v7) 60 x 40 yards

U11s, U12s, U13s (9v9) 80 x 50 yards

U14s (11v11) 100 x 60 yards

U15s, U16s, U17s, U18s (11v11) 110 x 70 yards

Futsal (min-max) 25-42 x 16-25 metres.

Halfway line

The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line. The centre mark is at the midpoint of the halfway line. In 5v5, 7v7, 9v9 and Futsal, this is also used as the Retreat Line when restarting play with a goal kick and in 5v5, 7v7 and 9v9 when the goalkeeper has possession.

Goal size

The size of the goal for each age group and format is as follows:

U7s, U8s (5v5) 12 x 6 feet

U9s, U10s (7v7) 12 x 6 feet

U11s, U12s, U13s (9v9) 16 x 7 feet

U14s (11v11) 21 x 7 feet

U15s, U16s, U17s, U18s (11v11) 24 x 8 feet

Futsal 3 x 2 metres

Spectators

There will be a designated area for spectators, ideally at least 2 metres from the pitch and where possible behind a fence or Respect barrier.

Technical area

There will be a separate, designated technical area for a maximum of 2 coaches per team.

Silent Sidelines

The touchline zones at all Respect League matches have been designated as Silent Sidelines. This creates a calmer atmosphere in which the children can hear themselves think, hear each other and make their own decisions, free from adult interference. Those watching are welcome to applaud both teams (eg clapping when a goal is scored) but must not shout or call out.

No instructions

During a match, coaches should not shout instructions telling the children what to do.

This does not help their development and makes them coach-dependent. Coaches should keep instructions for breaks between playing periods and keep their comments during games to a minimum. When coaches do call out to players, the focus should be challenging, open questions that prompt players to think for themselves and, where necessary, on boosting morale.

Dissent

No spectator or coach should ever attempt to influence or challenge a referee’s decision. It could result in them or their team being excluded from the League.

 

Law 2 – The ball

Football

The size of the ball for each age group is as follows:

U7s, U8s, U9s Size 3

U10s, U11s, U12s, U13s, U14s Size 4

U15s, U16s, U17s, U18s Size 5

Futsal

The ball may not bounce less than 50 cm or more than 65 cm on the first rebound when dropped from a height of 2 metres.

The size of the ball for each age group is as follows:

U7s, U8s, U9s, U10s, U11s Size 3

U12s+ Size 4

 

Law 3 – Number of players

Per team

The number of players permitted per team for each age group and format is as follows:

Max team Min team Max squad Recommended

 

Max team Min team Max squad Recommended
U7s, U8s (5v5) 5 players* 4 players† 10 players 7 players
U9s, U10s (7v7) 7 players* 5 players† 14 players 9 players
U11s, U12s, U13s (9v9) 9 players* 6 players† 18 players 12 players
U14s+ (11v11) 11 players 7 players 18 players 15 players
Futsal (min-max) 5 players* 3 players† 10 players 9 players

* Except for a Power Play when an additional player is allowed

†Equal Numbers rule applies

*Power Play

If, in any match, the goal difference reaches 4 goals, the losing team is offered a Power Play and can bring on an additional player until the end of the game or until the goal difference is reduced to 3 goals.

†Equal Numbers

If, the opposition team fields fewer than the maximum number of players, teams will be offered the choice of loaning them one or more substitutes (if available and willing) or withdrawing one or more of their own players (or a combination of both choices) to make the number of players equal on both teams to increase competition, development and enjoyment.

Age rules

Unless a specific dispensation is granted by the League, the following requirements apply: At each age group, players must be under that age at midnight on 31 August in the playing season eg. they must be under the age of 7 for the U7s, under the age of 8 for the U8s etc. Players qualifying for the age below may play one age group higher eg U8s may play at U9s. However, players cannot play in any League game before their 6th birthday and players cannot play in any 9v9 League game before their 10th birthday.

Substitutions

Any number of substitutes may be used at any time with the permission of the referee. ‘Rolling substitutions’ are allowed so a player who has been replaced may return to the playing area as a substitute for another player.

Goalkeepers

Any player can change places with the goalkeeper but must do so during a stoppage in play and must inform the referee before the change is made.

Mixed Teams

To maximise challenge, increase the level of competition and accelerate the development of ALL players, member clubs must not select teams by ability (eg an ‘A’ and ‘B’ team). Where two or more teams are entered, clubs must strive to make them of a similar level of overall ability.

Equal Playing Time

All squad members should receive equal playing time where possible, with a best practice Time recommendation of at least 50% per player for each game.

All Positions

All squad members should gain regular experience playing in all positions, including goalkeeper, to accelerate their all-round development as footballers rather than restricting their experience to only one or two positions.

 

Law 4 – Playing equipment

Safety

A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to him or herself or to another player, including any kind of jewellery. Players must wear shin guards and these must be covered entirely by their socks.

Weather

Players must wear the appropriate clothing dependent on the weather. Gloves and hats are permitted and players may wear additional layers covering their arms, legs and bodies as long as these are worn underneath their playing kit.

Colours

Teams should wear different colours and goalkeepers must wear a distinguishing playing strip different from the outfield players of both teams.

 

Footwear

Correct footwear must be worn for the surface of the pitch e.g. training shoes with soles of rubber for Futsal and shoes or boots without metal studs on artificial grass pitches for Football.

 

Law 5 – Referee’s

Authority

Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce these Laws.

Active Refereeing

Referees have an ‘active’ role in facilitating the learning of the players:

  • Helping the children to understand the rules
  • Improving re-starts, for example giving children a chance to retake foul throw-ins
  • Preventing foul play, for example by advising players to take care when challenging
  • Recognising good play, for example by praising children’s effort and skills
  • Encouraging sporting behaviour, for example handshakes at the start and end and after fouls Ensuring that adults are not shouting constant instructions from the sidelines
  • Looking after children’s physical and emotional well being

 

Law 6 – Assistant Referees

U7s-U13s

Assistant referees are not required for 5v5, 7v7, 9v9 or Futsal.

U14s+

Assistant referees may be appointed by the League or teams may be required to provide one volunteer each whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:

  • When the whole of the ball leaves the field of play
  • Which team is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in
  • When a player may be penalised for being in an offside position
  • When a substitution is requested
  • When misconduct or any other incident occurs out of the view of the referee
  • Whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper moves too early and if the ball crosses the line

Law 7 – Duration of the game

Age formats

The times permitted for each age group and MRJFL’s preferred format are as follows:

 

Matches Format Breaks Playing time Max per player
U7s, U8s (5v5) 2 matches 2 x 12 mins 3 mins 48 mins 40 mins
U8s (Futsal) 3 matches 1 x 16 mins 3 mins 48 mins 40 mins
U9s, U10s (7v7) 2 matches 2 x 12 mins 3 mins 48 mins 60 mins
U9s, U10s (Futsal) 3 matches 1 x 16 mins 3 mins 48 mins 60 mins
U11s, U12s, U13s (9v9) 3 matches 1 x 20 mins 3 mins 60 mins 100 mins
U14s (11v11) 1 match 4 x 17.5 mins 3 mins 70 mins 100 mins
U15s, U16s (11v11) 1 match 2 x 40 mins 5 mins 80 mins 100 mins
U17s, U18s (11v11) 1 match 2 x 45 mins 5 mins 90 mins 100 mins

 

Limits

It is the responsibility of the parent/carer or team coach to ensure that no child exceeds the limits on playing time specified above.

 

Law 8 – Start and restart of play

Procedure

A kick-off is taken at the centre of the playing area to start the game and after a goal has been scored. Opponents must be the required distance away (5 yards in 5v5 & 7v7; 10 yards in 9v9 and 11v11; and 5 metres in Futsal) and in their own half of the field. The ball must be played forward.

Scoring

5v5 & 7v7, Futsal A goal cannot be scored directly from a start or restart of play.

9v9 & 11v11 Normal rules apply: a goal can be scored directly from a start or restart of play.

Dropped ball

If the referee stops play temporarily with the ball still in play, the match is restarted with a dropped ball. If inside the penalty area, it takes place on the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when the play stopped. No goal can be scored directly from a dropped ball.

 

Law 9 – Ball in and out of play

Out of play

The ball is out of play when: it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air; play has been stopped by the referee; or the ball hits the ceiling (Futsal)

In play

The ball is in play at all other times, including when: It rebounds off a goalpost, crossbar or corner flag post and remains in the field of play It rebounds off either the referee or an assistant referee when they are on the field of play

 

Law 10 – Method of scoring

Goals

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the scoring team. In Futsal, the Goalkeeper can’t score directly from a throw.

 

Law 11- Offside

5v5, 7v7, Futsal

There is no offside.

9v9 & 11v11

Normal rules apply, as per Laws of Association Football

Offside

A player is in an offside position if he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.

Not offside

A player is not in an offside position if: he is in his own half of the field of play; or he is level with the second-last opponent; or he is level with the last two opponents.

Offence

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position. A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by: interfering with play; or interfering with an opponent; or gaining an advantage by being in that position.

No offence

There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from: a goal kick; a throw-in; a corner kick.

 

Law 12 – Fouls and misconduct

Rules

Normal rules apply, as per Laws of Association Football, except:

Slide tackling

On medical advice, slide tackling is not allowed at U7s to U13s or in Futsal and a free kick will be given in every instance: direct at U7s-U10 including Futsal; indirect at U11s-U13s unless it is also a foul.

Pass Back etc

In 5v5 and 7v7 for any goalkeeper offences committed inside the penalty area normally punishable by an indirect free kick, including picking up a pass back, a direct free kick will be awarded from the penalty area line, parallel with the goal line, at the nearest point to the offence.

Blue Cards

From U7s to U13s, a Blue Card will be shown for any cautionable offences. The player will be temporarily suspended from the match, and may not be replaced for the following duration:

 

Suspension
U7s, U8s, U9s, U10s 2 mins
U11s, U12s, U13s 5 mins

 

Yellow Cards

From U14s onwards a Yellow Card will be shown for all cautionable offences.

Red Cards

A Red Card will be shown for any sending off offences or for a second cautionable offence where a Blue or Yellow Card has previously been shown to the same player. The player must leave the field of play and may not be replaced.

Respect Marks

After every match, referees will award marks to players, coaches and spectator from both teams. These will be published as League Tables. There will be awards and rewards for teams scoring high marks. Teams falling short of the expected standard will be required to improve or face possible exclusion from the League.

 

Law 13 – Free kicks

Rules

Normal rules apply, as per Laws of Association Football, except:

5v5 & 7v7

All free kicks are direct. Opponents must be 5 yards from the ball.

Futsal

All free kicks are direct. Opponents must be 5 metres from the ball.

 

Law 14 – Penalty kicks

Rules

Normal rules apply, as per Laws of Association Football, except:

Position

All players except the defending goalkeeper and kicker must be outside the penalty area and the required distance from the penalty mark:

 

Penalty Mark Player’s Distance
5v5 7 yards 5 yards
7v7 8 yards 5 yards
9v9 8 yards 7 yards
11v11 12 yards 10 yards
Futsal 6 metres 5 metres

 

Law 15 – Throw-ins/Kick-ins

Restarting play

When the whole of the ball crosses the touch line, either on the ground or in the air, play is restarted with a throw-in (Football) or a kick-in (Futsal) taken by the opponents of the player who last touched the ball at the point in went out of play. The ball is in play when it enters the field of play.

Scoring

A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in or a kick-in.

Throw-in

The thrower must:

  • Face the field of play
  • Have part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
  • Hold the ball with both hands
  • Delivers the ball from behind and over his head
  • Delivers the ball from the point where it left the field of play
  • Not touch the ball again until it has touched another player

Kick-in

The kicker must:

  • Have one foot on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line
  • Kick the ball, which must be stationary, either from the point where it left the pitch or on the ground outside it at a distance no greater than 25 cm from that point
  • Deliver the ball within four seconds of being ready to do so
  • Not touch the ball again until it has touched another player

Opponents

All opponents must stand no less than 2 yards from the point at which a throw-in is taken or 5 metres from the point at which a Kick-in is taken.

Foul throws

The role of the referee includes helping young players to learn the game. At U7s to U13s a player using incorrect technique will be asked to take a throw-in or kick-in again with guidance and help from the referee.

Double touch

The thrower or kicker may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. If he/she does, a free kick is awarded against them.

 

Law 16 – Goal kicks/Goal clearance [and Retreat Line]

Restarting play

When the whole of the ball crosses the goal line, either on the ground or in the air having last touched a player on the attacking team (and a goal has not been scored in accordance with Law 10), play is restarted with a goal kick (Football) or a goal clearance (Futsal).

5v5, 7v7

A player of the defending team kicks the ball from any point within the penalty area. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out the penalty area. It must be a deliberate pass to a teammate in the kicker’s own half or it must be re-taken without a Retreat Line.

9v9

A player of the defending team kicks the ball from within the goal area. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out the penalty area. It must be a deliberate pass to a teammate in the kicker’s own half or it must be re-taken without a Retreat Line.

11v11

A player of the defending team kicks the ball from within the goal area. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly out the penalty area.

Futsal

The goalkeeper throws the ball from any point within the penalty area. The ball is in play when it is thrown directly out the penalty area. It must be a deliberate pass to a teammate in the Goalkeeper’s own half or it must be re-taken without a Retreat Line.

Retreat Line

5v5, 7v7, 9v9 and Futsal

Opponents must retreat to their own half on every goal kick or goal clearance and whenever the Goalkeeper has possession until the ball is returned into play. The team in possession does not have to wait for the opposition to retreat and has the option to restart the game sooner should they choose to.

Deliberate pass

When the ball is returned into play from a goal kick, goal clearance or from the goalkeeper’s’ possession, it must be a deliberate pass to a teammate in the team’s own half or it must be re-taken without a Retreat Line.

Method of distribution

Goal kicks must be kicked from a stationary position on the ground. Goal clearances (Futsal) must be rolled or thrown. From possession in open play, Goalkeepers can roll, throw or kick the ball as long as it is a deliberate pass to a teammate in the Goalkeeper’s own half.

 

Law 17 – Corner kicks

Restarting play

When the whole of the ball crosses the goal line, either on the ground or in the air having last touched a player on the defending team (and a goal has not been scored in accordance with Law 10), play is restarted with a corner kick. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.

Distance

The opposing players must remain the required distance from the ball until it is in play.

 

Player’s Distance
5v5, 7v7 5 yards
9v9, 11v11 10 yards
Futsal 5 metres

 

Double touch

The kicker may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player. If he or she does, a free kick is awarded against them.

Why do we have a Retreat Line?

The FA have made a lot of changes to youth football to make the game more developmental.

 

They want children in England to learn to be as comfortable and confident on the ball as children in Brazil, Spain and Italy. Old-fashioned English coaches told young players to ‘get rid of it’ and ‘hoof it’ turning possession into a 50:50 long ball. We want children to learn to play better football: building from the back; passing through the ‘thirds’; creative combination play; and beating opponents 1v1.

 

Without a Retreat Line, goalkeepers tend to boot the ball downfield – hoof and hope. With a Retreat Line, the team keeps and builds possession.

 

Law 16: Goal kicks/Goal clearance [and Retreat Line]

5v5, 7v7, 9v9 and Futsal

Opponents must retreat to their own half on every goal kick or goal clearance and whenever the Goalkeeper has possession until the ball is returned into play. The team in possession does not have to wait for the opposition to retreat and has the option to restart the game sooner should they choose to.

Deliberate pass

When the ball is returned into play from a goal kick, goal clearance or from the Goalkeeper’s’ possession, it must be a deliberate pass to a teammate in the team’s own half or it must be re-taken without a Retreat Line.

Method of distribution

Goal kicks must be kicked from a stationary position on the ground. Goal clearances (Futsal) must be rolled or thrown. From possession in open play, Goalkeepers can roll, throw or kick the ball as long as it is a deliberate pass to a teammate in the Goalkeeper’s own half.

The Six Principles

The Six Principles behind our League

 

  1. Why we’re playing to learn, not just to win

The FA’s guidance is clear. Children’s soccer is not adult football. The pitch is a classroom and games are designed to help young children learn the game, to develop their skills, their confidence and their self-esteem. That doesn’t mean it’s not competitive – it’s just that it’s the children that are competing not the adults! Children’s soccer is not about short-term match wins, instead it’s about long-term player development. There’ll be plenty of time later for teams to concentrate on winning, so please relax, stand back and ‘let the game be the teacher’.

 

  1. Why we don’t have “A” teams

Children love competition. If they picked their own teams for a game in the park, they’d make them as even as possible because it makes the game more competitive, more challenging and more enjoyable. And if it got to 5-0, they’d stop the game and re-balance the teams to make it more even, and even more competitive. So the League does the same by requiring all teams to be mixed and even. Picking ‘A’ and ‘B’ teams actually holds players back and slows their development. It makes lots of matches too one-sided and un-competitive. If it ends 9-0, ‘A’ team players are not stretched or challenged and just ‘coast’. ‘B’ team players are permanently stuck in the slow lane. With mixed teams every fixture is much more competitive and so much more of a challenge with more chances to learn and chances to lead. All players become good players and good players become great players.

  1. Why every child should get equal time on the pitch

It’s simple, Children develop by playing not by watching from the sidelines. The more pitch time they get, the faster they develop. No child should be held back, so all should get equal time on the pitch.

 

  1. Why all players should play in all positions

Parents sometimes say that their child is a ‘winger’ or a ‘striker’. The FA says that playing in just one position stunts their development. Why? Because, to become a total footballer, children need to see and understand the game from every angle. Being a goalie or defender helps you be a better attacker.

  1. Why you shouldn’t shout instructions during games

Children are here to learn. And they learn by making mistakes. The more mistakes they make, the more they learn. The FA calls this the ‘golden age of learning’. So, to accelerate their development, we need to let children make their own decisions and make hundreds of mistakes, the more the better. It’s tempting to shout out instructions, telling them who to mark, where to pass and when to shoot. It feels like you’re ‘helping’ them, but it really doesn’t help. If adults keep telling children what to do, they stop the children making their own decisions, stop them making mistakes and so they stop them learning. You wouldn’t stand in your child’s classroom and shout out the answers while they’re learning maths. So please don’t stand on the touchline shouting out the answers while they’re learning football. Coaches should keep advice on tactics to an absolute minimum and the coaching points are best made before and after the game and at half time. In short, don’t shout instructions, just let children play.

  1. Why the loudest sound should be the children playing

Children learn best in a calm environment. Young children find the touchline ‘wall of noise’ can be distracting, confusing, off-putting or even intimidating. The groans of adult disappointment after a mistake can easily put children off trying new skills for fear of failure and adult disapproval. The FA says that “pressure from the touchline has to stop”. That’s why we have Silent Sidelines.