Laws of the Game & FA Rules

2019/20 law changes explained

2019/20 law changes explained

Here is a simplified version of this year’s key law changes to help prepare clubs, managers, players, referees and spectators for the new season.

Law 3 - The players (substitutes)
A player who is being substituted must leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline/goal line (unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly/immediately at the halfway line or a different point because of safety, injury etc.).

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change

Law 8 - The start and restart of play (drop ball)

  • If play is stopped inside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for the goalkeeper
  • If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the point of the last touch
  • In all cases, all the other players (of both teams) must be at least 4m away
  • If the ball touches the referee and goes into the goal, team possession changes or a promising attack starts, a drop ball is awarded to the team that last touched the ball.

Watch an explanation video - part 1

Watch an explanation video - part 2

View a clip showing the change

Law 12 - Fouls and misconduct (quick free-kicks / yellow cards & red cards)

  • If the referee is about to issue a yellow card/red card but the non-offending team takes the free
    kick quickly and creates a goal-scoring opportunity, the referee can delay the yellow card/red card until the next stoppage if the offending team was not distracted by the referee

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change

Law 12 - Fouls and misconduct (handball)

Deliberate handball remains an offence. The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick:

  • the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm
  • a player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The following will NOT usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the situations above:

  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near
  • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger
  • if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger)
  • If the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change - example 1

View a clip showing the change - example 2

Law 12 - Fouls and misconduct (team officials)

A team official guilty of misconduct will be shown a yellow card (caution) or  red card (sending off)*

*if the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach who is in the technical area at the time will receive the yellow card/red card

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change

Law 13 - Free-kicks

The Wall:

  • When there is a ‘wall’ of three or more defenders, the attackers are not allowed
    within 1m of the wall; an attacker less than 1m from the ‘wall’ when the kick is taken will be penalised with an indirect free kick

Free Kicks in your own penalty area

  • When the defending team takes a free kick in their own penalty area, the ball is in play once the kick is taken; it does not have to leave the penalty area before it can be played. Attackers still have to be outside the penalty area when the kick is taken

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change - example 1

View a clip showing the change - example 2

Law 14 - The penalty kick

  • The team’s penalty taker can have (quick) treatment/assessment and then take the kick
  • The goalkeeper must not be touching the goalposts/crossbar/nets; they must not be moving
  • The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line
    when the kick is taken; the GK cannot stand behind the line

View a clip showing the change

Law 16 - The goal kick

  • The ball is in play once the kick is taken; it can be played before leaving the penalty area
  • Opponents must remain outside the penalty area until the ball is kicked

Watch an explanation video

View a clip showing the change - example 1

View a clip showing the change - example 2