Soccer by the Rules – The Team Area

Soccer by the Rules – The Team Area By Joe Manjone, Ed. D.

There shall be a designated specific area for each team’s bench separated by an official area for entering substitutes, scorers and timers. These areas shall be at least 10 feet from the touchline. In addition, The Team Areas as indicated in 1-5-3 shall extend from 10 yards on each side of the halfway line for a distance of 20 yards, and each area shall be marked by a solid line. Coaches, bench personnel and team members shall be restricted to the team area with the following exception: A team member may leave the bench area to warm up prior to becoming a substitute.

As an official, your duties and concerns regarding this rule include:

  1. When inspecting the field, make certain that the team areas are marked with a solid line and are the required distance from the touch line.  If the team area is not marked with a solid line, inform the home team coach that the field is not properly marked and report this to the proper authority after the game has been played. If the team area is located closer than 10 feet to the touch line, this is a safety issue and the game should not be played unless the team area can be moved to the required distance or the state high school association has approved the shorter distance and you have verification of this.
  2. Making certain that coaches, bench personnel and team members not warming up or substitutes who are in the official area waiting to come into the game stay in the team area. Two rules concerning coaches and players remaining in the team area are:
  1. Coaching outside the team area is considered unsporting conduct and the coach is to be cautioned (12-8-1-f1) Note that although the coach should be cautioned, it may be more prudent depending on the situation to first give the coach a warning, and if the coaching outside the team area is repeated, the caution can be given. Note: Warning as defined in 18-1-1-rr is “A verbal admonition to a coach or player for conduct not in the best interest of the game. Repeat warning(s) necessitates an official caution (yellow card)”
  2. Rule 12-8-2-g specifies that a player, coach or bench personnel leaving the team area to enter the field where a fight or altercation is taking place unless summoned by the official shall be disqualified (red card). This situation including the official responsible for writing down of the numbers or descriptions of those entering during a fight or altercation should be covered in the officials’ pre-game conference. As the referee, you must strictly enforce this rule, disqualify all those that entered illegally, and then report the fight or altercation, and the names and numbers of all those involved or who entered illegally from the bench to the proper authority (state association, district association, local assignor, etc. – know who this is).

There is no specific rule or penalty regarding a player or bench personnel who is illegally outside the team area.  However, this is considered unsporting conduct  as it is understood that not all unsporting misconduct is specified as indicated in the Unsporting Conduct Rule: 12-8-1-f: “Unsporting conduct including, but not limited to.” The player or bench personnel illegally outside the team area should therefore be warned or cautioned.

Dissent from the team area is a major problem that officials and must deal with immediately and consistently. Dissent as defined in 12-8-1-c is Objecting by word of mouth or action to any decision given by an official. Dissent is misconduct that requires a caution (yellow card).  However, some depending on the intensity of the dissent,  officials prefer to handle dissent by first giving a warning before issuing the caution. This is permissible but if the dissent continues, a caution should be given, and if this does not stop the dissent, a second caution resulting in a disqualification should be issued. It is important for all officials to deal with dissent immediately. Continued and unchecked dissent can lead to other unsportsmanlike acts by players, coaches, bench personnel and spectators. Also, unchallenged dissent in one game can lead the dissenter to believe that he/she can do it all the time, and thus cause a problem for officials in future games. Again, deal with dissent immediately and firmly. Note: If the coach, player, or bench personnel leaves the team area in order to dissent with a decision, a caution (yellow card) not a warning should be given.

A final rule concerning the team area concerns misconduct that cannot be attributed to a specific player. Examples might be offensive language or dissent coming from the team area where the individual committing this misconduct cannot be identified. 12-8-3-b states: “The coach may be cautioned or disqualified either for team misconduct or bench misconduct that cannot be attributed to a specific individual.” Thus, in the case where the individual who yelled out the offensive language could not be identified, the coach would be disqualified.  Please note that this rule not only applies to misconduct occurring in the team area, but also misconduct occurring outside the team area and on the field.

Follow the above procedures and enforce these rules in every high school game you work, and make certain your partners do the same. Help team to know and adhere to the high school team area rules.

If you would like to suggest a high school soccer rules change or if you have any questions about these rules or any high school rule, please e-mail me at [email protected]columbiasouthern.edu