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By: Todd Abraham, NISOA Senior Director of Instruction

The IFAB has issued a series of documents outlining changes to the Laws of the Game effective June 1, 2016. The significant changes listed below do not currently apply to the NCAA rules:

Change: The ball can be kicked in any direction, including backward, at kick-off (previously, the ball had to go forward first);

NCAA Rule: The NCAA rules still require that the ball is played forward at the kick-off. An incorrect kick-off (if the player kicks the ball into his / her own half of the field) requires a re-kick by the same team. Repeat violations may be cautioned. An illegal kick-off (touching the ball a second time before another player touches it) results in an indirect kick for the opponent.
Preventive officiating tip: If you see only one player standing over the ball at the kick-off remind the player the ball must go forward.


Change: Players who are injured as a result of a red card/yellow card foul, now may be treated on the field by medical personnel and stay on the field (previously, any treatment by medical personnel required the player to leave the field and referee had to signal the player back on);

NCAA Rule: NCAA rules require that a player treated on the field must leave the field and may be substituted. There is a substitution exception for this situation, however, the player must leave the field.


Change: Not all fouls that deny an obvious goal scoring opportunity will result in a red card (send-off offense), but rather, depending on the circumstances, the player may be shown a yellow card if the offense is within an opponent’s penalty area.

NCAA Rule: NCAA rules have no such exception. Denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity is an offense that requires an ejection whether it occurs in the penalty area or outside the penalty area.


The NCAA and IFAB are fully aligned on all offside interpretations and restarts.

It is critical that all NISOA referee apply the NCAA rules to collegiate matches. The changes cited above are not implemented for NCAA matches.

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