Small Sided Football - Laws of the Game
Fouls and Misconduct
Fouls and misconduct are penalised as follows:
Direct Free Kick
A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following seven offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
- Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
- Trips or attempts to trip an opponent
- Jumps at an opponent
- Charges an opponent, even with the shoulder
- Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
- Pushes an opponent
- Tackles an opponent
A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following offences:
- holds an opponent
- spits at an opponent
- Slides in an attempt to play the ball when it is being played or attempted to be played by an opponent (sliding tackle).
- handles the ball deliberately, except for the goalkeeper in his own penalty area
A direct free kick is taken from the place where the infringement occurred.
A penalty kick is awarded if a player commits any of the aforementioned offences inside his own penalty area, irrespective of the position of the ball but provided that it is in play.
If the Competition Rules dictate that only goalkeepers are permitted inside their own penalty area then this part of the Law does not apply.
Indirect Free Kick
An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper commits one of the following offences:
- touches or controls the ball with his hands after it has been deliberately kicked to him by a team-mate
- touches or controls the ball with his hands after he has received it directly from a kick-in taken by a team-mate
- touches or controls the ball with his hands or feet, in the penalty area, for more than four seconds
- Height of ball restrictions (optional modification) – If a height restriction is introduced the competition rules should identify the height above which an indirect free kick shall be awarded to the opposing team.
- If a height infringement occurs within the penalty area and is committed by the defending team an indirect free kick should be awarded on the penalty area line nearest to where the offence took place.
- The exception to this rule shall be when the ball rises above the designated height restriction resulting from a save or block performed by a goalkeeper. Play should continue in this circumstance unless the ball hits the roof when play should be restarted with a drop ball. However should another player play the ball whilst it is at a height above the designated height restriction this will result in an indirect free kick to the opposing team.
An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred, if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:
- plays in a dangerous manner
- deliberately impedes the progress of an opponent when the ball is not being played
- prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
- commits any other offence, not previously mentioned in Law 12, for which play is stopped to caution or dismiss a player
The indirect free kick is taken from the place where the infringement occurred, unless this was in the penalty area, in which case the indirect free kick is taken from the penalty area line at the point nearest to where the infringement occurred.
The use of temporary tme suspensions (‘sin bins) and the exclusion of a player arising from the issuing of a red card are the recommended disciplinary sanctions for use in small-sided football. Match officials should employ the use of temporary timed suspensions (blue cards) in all cases traditionally regarded as cautionable offences.
Referees shall also have the discretion to use a second ‘blue card’ and a further period of suspension for a second minor offence rather than a second blue card automatically resulting in a red card and permanent expulsion.
The options for a match official imposing disciplinary sanctions are therefore;
- Player shown a blue card and temporarily suspended from play
- Player issued with a discretionary second blue card and temporarily excluded from play
- Player issued with a red card and permanently excluded from play
A blue card offence should always be accompanied by a temporary suspension from play.
The period of timed suspension in Small Sided Football shall be two minutes. The release of players from a temporary suspension should be at the direction of the Referee or a Match Official if one is available.
Temporary Timed Suspensions – Procedures
A player temporarily suspended from play will be shown a blue card by the match official and informed that he/she shall be suspended from play for two minutes.
The player is obliged to leave the playing area and remain in a designated ‘sin bin’ area for the required suspension time. Separate ‘sin bin’ areas should be identified for each team. If no designated ‘sin bin’ areas are provided then suspended players should remain in the area where they can be seen by the referee and adjacent to team officials and substitutes.
A player will be informed as to the end of a period of suspension by the referee or match official and invited to rejoin the game. Where barricades are used the players must use the opening onto the playing area.
Temporary Timed Suspensions
A player is shown the blue card and temporarily excluded from play if he commits any of the following offences:
- C1 is guilty of unsporting behaviour
- C2 shows dissent by word or action
- C3 persistently infringes the Laws of the Game
- C4 delays the restart of play
- C5 fails to respect the required distance when play is restarted with a corner kick, kick-in, free kick or goal clearance.
- C6 enters or re-enters the playing area without the referee’s permission or infringes the substitution procedure
- C7 deliberately leaves the playing area without the referee’s permission outside of a substitution
For any of these offences, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. If the offence was committed within the penalty area the indirect free kick is taken from the penalty area line at the place nearest to where the infringement occurred.
Exception to the use of ‘Blue Cards’ and Temporary Timed Suspensions
The only exception to the use of ‘Blue Cards’ and Temporary Timed Suspensions is in facilities where if a player is excluded for two minutes they are unable to take up a position which is still in the eye line of the Referee but outside the boundaries of the pitch. This might be the case in an enclosed sports hall or in a complex of caged pitches. In such circumstances safety considerations requires the Referee to employ the use of yellow cards, with all players remaining on the pitch unless excluded permanently. In this situation normal disciplinary sanctions will apply after the game as per the competition rules. If 2 yellow cards are given to an individual the player will be shown a red card and dismissed.
A player is sent off and shown the red card if he commits any of the following offences:
- S1 is guilty of serious foul play
- S2 is guilty of violent conduct
- S3 spits at an opponent or any other person
- S4 denies the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
- S5 denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
- S6 uses offensive, insulting or abusive language
- S7 receives a second blue/yellow card in the same match
If play is stopped for a player to be sent from the playing area without having committed any additional infringement of the Laws, the game is restarted by an indirect free kick, awarded to the opposing team, to be taken at the place where the infringement occurred. However, if the offence is committed in the penalty area, the indirect free kick is taken from the penalty area line at the place nearest to where the infringement occurred.
A player who has been sent off may not take any further part in the game nor may he sit on the substitutes’ bench, where provided.