There is a difference (Part 2)

Don Dennison

Don Dennison

By: Don Dennison NISOA  National Clinician and National Assessor

Last month I reviewed the major differences exist between the FIFA Laws of the Game and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) soccer rules through Rule/Law 7  (Duration of the Game).  This article will continue where Part 1 concluded.

As previously stated, for those readers who are moving up to school ball (High School varsity, Jr. Varsity and Middle School) officiating played under NFHS Rules from club matches under FIFA Laws, a careful and thorough reading of the NFHS Rules Book is essential.  For those of you who have several years of school soccer in your portfolio, a re-reading of the NFHS Rules and especially the Rules changes and Points of Emphasis is a must.

Confusion between the Rules is common and occurs annually and I would recommend you to read the Rules Differences Chart that I author every year.  A copy can be found near the end of your NFHS Rules Book

Lets take a look at a few of the major differences between the FIFA laws and the NFHS Rules starting with The Start of Play (Rule/Law 8).

START OF PLAY:  Several years ago, FIFA revised the coin toss so that the loser of the toss must kick off.  The winner had a choice of goals to defend. In NFHS, the winner of the toss has the choice of kicking off  OR the selection of a goal to defend.  When game is restarted by a drop ball when it goes over the touchline by contact with opposing players, it is dropped 5 yards from the touchline in NFHS Rules.  All drop balls in HS must be between two opposing players; this is not required by FIFA.

BALL IN AND OUT OF PLAY: If play stopped due to injury inadvertent whistle, etc. restart is an indirect free kick if ball was in clear possession by one team, otherwise a drop ball in NFHS. In FIFA,  always a dropped ball.  If a ball strikes an overhead wire or tree extending into field,  there is no set HS rule.  It should be discussed prior to match with coaches as to the proper restart.  In FIFA, it is considered as part of the field and the ball remains in play.

VIOLATIONS AND MISCONDUCT:  FIFA delineates 7 situations for a Caution or Yellow Card: unsporting behavior, dissent, persistent infringement of the laws. Delaying restarts, failure to move back 10 yds. on free kicks, entering or deliberately leaving the field of play without referee permission.  NFHS rules agree but add additional causes, namely use of video or communications to assist in coaching field players, use of tobacco at the game site, intentional foul on a goal scoring opportunity when a goal is scored. And HS Rules further define unsporting acts to specifically include excessive celebration, coaching outside of the box, faking injury, simulating a foul, and reckless play, as well as player being illegally equipped.  In this instance, the coach gets the card for the first such infraction and the player on subsequent infractions.  A major difference here is that a yellow carded (cautioned player) must leave the field in NFHS Rules until next legal substitution time.

FIFA Laws establish seven sending-off (Red Card) offenses: serious foul play, violent conduct, spitting at anyone, denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (except GK), denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity by any free kick or penalty kick offense- (commonly referred to as DOGSO), use of offensive, insulting or abusive language or gestures, and a player receiving a second caution (Yellow Card). To these offenses, the NFHS Rules add taunting and leaving the bench area when a fight is taking place.  Take note that under High School Rules a coach may be carded, but this is not true under FIFA Laws.

DIRECT FREE KICK OFFENSES:  Both sets of Rues/Laws specify spitting, kicking or attempt, striking or attempt, tripping or attempt, jumping at an opponent, holding pushing, charging violently and charging a goalkeeper in possession of the ball.  FIFA also adds tackling in a careless, or reckless manner or with excessive force, while NFHS adds charging an opponent in the act of playing the ball while he/she has both feet off the ground and specifies charging in a careless, or reckless manner or with excessive force.

INDIRECT FREE KICK OFFENSES:   There are many and varied offenses for which an direct free kick may be awarded in both sets of Rules/laws and the reader is urged to review these throughout the books Some, but not all of the High School situations are listed on pages 61 and 62 of the current Rule Book.

A very important distinction in the high school game is that for a temporary play suspension, i.e. injury, inadvertent whistle or other unusual situation, the restart is an indirect free kick if one team had clear possession at the time of stoppage.  Further in the high school rules dangerous play for which an indirect free kick is awarded may be against either an opponent or team mate.

 PENALTY KICKS:  The only differences are that while a stutter step by the kicker is allowed under FIFA Laws, it is not permitted under NFHS Rules and the kick would be retaken and in High School games if the ball is saved by the goalkeeper and the kicker’s team encroaches, play continues while in FIFA an indirect free kick for the defender’s team is given at the point of the encroachment.

THROW-IN:  High School Rules state that if a throw-in fails to enter the field of play, a throw-in is awarded to the opponent.  In FIFA the throw-in would be retaken.

In these two articles, I have touched on the most important difference between the FIFA and NFHS Rules and Laws that you must be familiar with as you move into the High School game.