Soccer Comments and Interpretations:

 2020-21 Interpretations

MPA Mouthpiece Q and A

Religious Head Covering



Soccer Rules Interpretations - 2020-21

By NFHS on July 22, 2020soccer


Publisher’s Note: The National Federation of State High School Associations is the only source of official high school interpretations. They do not set aside nor modify any rule. They are made and published by the NFHS in response to situations presented.

Dr. Karissa L. Niehoff, Publisher, NFHS Publications © 2020

SITUATION 1: Player A2 kicks the ball forward and the ball is simultaneously played out-of-bounds by A3 and B3. The game will be restarted with a drop ball 5 yards from the boundary line where the ball was simultaneously touched, to a player of the team that last played the ball. RULING: Legal. Play is restarted with a drop ball if simultaneously touched by the opponent at the spot where the ball was touched. (9-2-1, 9-2-3)

SITUATION 2: Player A2 kicks the ball forward and the ball is simultaneously played by A3 and B3, both of whom commit simultaneous fouls. The referee restarts play with a drop ball at the spot of the fouls for a player of the team that last played the ball prior to the fouls being committed. RULING: Legal. The game will be restarted with a drop ball. (9-2-1, 9-2-3)

SITUATION 3: Player A kicks the ball while in the opponent’s penalty area. The ball deflects off the referee in the penalty area and (a) goes into the goal, (b) goes to A2’s teammate who then scores a goal, (c) goes to defender B2, (d) goes directly back to A2 at the spot where he/she kicked the ball or (e) deflects to a spot where A2 now has a scoring opportunity. RULING: In (a), (b), (c) and (e), play is restarted with a drop ball to the goalkeeper on Team B where the ball touched the referee. In (d), play continues as there was no change in possession, no goal was scored and there was no development of a promising attack.

SITUATION 4: While taking a goal kick, Player A kicks the ball and it moves. Before another player from either team plays the ball, Player A plays the ball. RULING: Illegal. Play is restarted with an indirect free kick awarded to the opponent from the spot of the second touch. Because Player A put the ball in play, he/she may not play the ball until it has been touched by another player.

SITUATION 5: The referee has ruled that a drop ball to Player A1 shall be used to restart the game following an unusual situation. Where must the Team A and B members be located? RULING: All Team A and B members other than A1 must be 4 yards from the ball until it is back in play. (9-2)

SITUATION 6: While placing the ball on the field for a free kick using his/her foot, Player B2: (a) moves the ball forward to the spot, (b) moves the ball to the side to the spot, (c) drags the ball backward to the spot and is ready to take the kick. RULING: Legal in (a), (b) and (c). Simply tapping or stepping on the top of the ball or moving the ball to position it for the free kick with the foot is not sufficient to put the ball into play. The ball is in play when it has been kicked and moves.

SITUATION 7: In calling for an indirect free kick for Team A, the referee does not signal by raising an arm above the head. A1 kicks the ball and (a) the ball goes directly into Team B’s goal, (b) the goalkeeper for Team B makes a play and touches the ball and it enters the goal. RULING: Rekick in (a) and goal in (b). For indirect kicks, the referee shall signal an indirect kick (using Official NFHS Soccer Signals Rule 5-3-1b) by raising an arm above the head; this signal shall be maintained until the kick is taken and the ball touches another player or goes out of play. If the referee fails to signal that the kick is indirect and the ball goes directly into the opponent’s goal, the kick shall be retaken. Webinar Dates: Fall – September 17, 2020 at 2:00 p.m., EST Spring – April 8, 2021 at 2:00 p.m., EST Rule Change Proposal Portal is now open for Soccer. Proposals due date: November 1, 2020

MPA Mouthpiece Interpretations

Some MPA Interpreter's Play rulings:

Situation 1:  Player #14 is on a breakaway , dribbling the ball to score; his legal mouthpiece is hanging out of his mouth, according to the rule above when do I send the player off

Answer: The player is in the vicinity of the ball. At the next stoppage of play or dead ball you must send the player off the field and   Remember: "Play shall not be stopped immediately for an infringement of this rule."

Situation 2:    You have sent a player off during the course of the game because of an illegal mouth piece or no mouth piece and he or she reports to the assistant referee or your partner that he or she now has legal equipment, can they reenter the game at any time?

Answer: The play must be stopped for some reason; and the player may reenter the game to 'fill out' the eleven players at a stoppage of play. Such reentry should not be a delaying tactic for the defending team.

Situation 3:    Team "A" has player #14 being sent off for a illegal mouthpiece violation and the Coach was given a caution card. Several minutes later, after a legal reentry, you again notice Team "A" #14 is wearing an illegal mouth piece in violation of the mouthpiece rule; does the Coach get a caution card?

Answer:    No. As this is the second violation of the illegal equipment rule the player is cautioned

Religious Head covering

Q.        Can a female soccer player, who is Muslim, wear a head covering?

 A.        The Maine Principals’ Association recognizes the religious diversity of soccer players around the State of Maine. As such Muslim female players may wear a hijab or similar head covering of soft material. Generally it shall conform to the basic shape of the players head and be tucked into the uniform jersey.


 Q.        Female Muslims may also be required to cover their arms and legs, how will that be handled?

 A.        National Federation rules currently allow a player to wear visible apparel under the jersey and shorts. Remember, however, that all players wearing visible apparel must wear apparel of similar length and color. As such a Muslim female player could wear sweat pants or warm up pants or jacket, etc under her shorts or jersey. Visible under apparel must be solid in color.


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