Law Revisions for 2017

Although there were many revisions to the Laws of the Game last year here we are highlighting only those that are most frequent or directly affect the assistant referee.  There is a possibility of a few more adjustments coming as the MLS season begins and will be added when IFAB has approved them. 
The philosophy behind the revision is that football needs Laws which are fair and which everyone can easily understand and are logical. The Laws should embody the important concept of the ‘spirit of the game’


Disciplinary procedure when the opponent is injured

If a player is injured as the result of a physical offence for which the opponent is shown a yellow or a red card, the injured player is not required to leave the field of play if the assessment/treatment of the injury is completed quickly

changing / correcting equipment

Player returning after changing or correcting equipment can return during play if checked by 4th official or assistant referee and referee gives a signal to reenter.

offside revisions

–The free kick for offside is taken from wherever the offside offense occurs (including player’s own half)

Assistant referees do not cross into the other half of the field to "mark" the location of the offside, but should remain at the halfway line or the position from where they raised their flag.

–Halfway line – halfway line is ‘neutral’ for offside; attacker must be in opponents’ half
- Hands and arms – not included when judging offside (including the goalkeeper)
–Offside position – position (not offense) judged when ball is played

Offside - defender off the field of play:

A defending player who leaves the field of play without the referee’s permission shall be considered to be on the goal line or touchline for the purposes of offside until:

1) the next stoppage in play, or

2) until the defending team has played the ball towards the halfway line and it is outside their penalty area

If the player left the field of play deliberately, the player must be cautioned when the ball is next out of play.

advantage on a red card offense


If advantage is played for a red card offence and the offending player later becomes involved in play an IDFK is awarded

Change of sanction for some DOGSO offences in the penalty area

Where a player denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by a deliberate handball offense the player is sent off wherever the offense occurs.


Where a player commits an offense against an opponent within their own penalty area which denies an opponent an obvious goal-scoring opportunity and the referee awards a penalty kick, the offending player is cautioned unless:

•The offense is holding, pulling or pushing or

•The offending player does not attempt to play the ball or there is no possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball or

•The offense is one which is punishable by a red card wherever it occurs on the field of play (e.g. serious foul play, violent conduct etc..)  

In all the above circumstances the player is sent off.

The first three videos are not DOGSO because there was a clear attempt to play the ball or there is a reasonable possibility for the player making the challenge to play the ball.

The last three videos are DOGSO because holding, pushing or pulling are not attempts to play the ball and serious foul play is punished wherever it occurs.

For all handball DOGSO offenses there is NO CHANGE.

Deliberate handling the ball is not part of a ‘normal’ attempt to challenge an opponent for the ball so for all DOGSO handball offenses (inside and outside the penalty area) the player will be sent off (red card).


Violent Conduct

Violent conduct – attempted violence with no contact is a sending off.
Violent conduct – when not challenging for the ball, contact with head/face is a sending off unless contact is negligible

Fouls off the field of play

Fouls off the field of play - free kick awarded at nearest point on boundary line (penalty kick if in own penalty area)

Infringements on Penalty Kick

Goalkeeper infringes the penalty kick protocol and a re-take is ordered – GK receives a YC

‘Illegal’ feinting is always an indirect free kick as this is deliberate cheating (also a YC)

Infringements by Substitute / Team Officials

–Interference with the game now results in a direct free kick (or penalty kick)

Impact of substitute/team official/outside agent touching a ball which is going into the goal

–If someone/something touches the ball as it is going into the goal but it still goes in, a goal results (unless defenders affected)

Kicks from the Penalty Mark - same number of players

–The principle that if at the start of KFPM one team has fewer players the other team reduces, is now extended to the whole KFPM

–If a player leaves the field during KFPM and is not back in time to take a kick then kick is forfeited (missed)

Offences against substitutes, team officials, match officials etc.…

Offence against anyone (other than an opponent) is punished with a direct free kick


Tape/material on/covering socks

–Anything put on/worn over socks must be the same color as the part of the sock being covered; this deals with ankle socks etc.…


–Undershorts/tights must be the same color as the shorts or the color of the hem; team members must all wear same color

Ball must be stationary and then clearly move to be in play

–Clarification that the ball must be stationary and is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves – this is to prevent a player just touching the ball and then pretending the ball has not been kicked it (especially true for CKs

Other Revisions or Clarifications

–11.4 - Player off the field – when an attacking player can re-enter without being penalised;

–11.5 - Player in goal – wording consistent with rest of the Law

–12.2 + 12.13 - Offences – ‘challenges’ added to ‘tackles; ‘impedes an opponent’ added

–12.4 + 12.5 - Serious foul play/violent conduct

–removal of ‘far’ from definition of serious foul play

–removal of ‘clearly’ from violent conduct definition

–12.6 - Direct free kicks – ‘impedes an opponent’  added

–13.5 - Quick Free kick – clarification of difference between ‘preventing’ and ‘intercepting’ a free kick

–14.2 - Penalty kick –  ball must be stationary and clearly move to be in play

–14.3 - Penalty kick – some offences are always unsporting behaviour and always IDFK and YC

–14.6 - Penalty kick – IDFK if ball kicked backwards

–15.1 - Throw in – clarifies that ball must be thrown by both hands

–15.2 - Throw in – clarifies offence of not respecting 2m distance

–16.1 + 17.1 - Goal kick/Corner kick – corner kick to opponents if ball kicked into own goal (GK must leave penalty area)

–16.2 - Goal kick – ball must be stationary