Laws of the Game
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Differences between 9v9 to 11v11 Games
The purpose of this document is to explain the differences between the Laws of the Game in the 9v9 to 11v11 game. This is not a full replacement for the Laws of the Game, but rather a supplement for Referees. For any aspect of the law not covered by this document, please refer to the current edition of the FIFA Laws of the Game.
Law 1: The Field of Play
The field and goal dimensions as outlined below shall be considered as desirable guidelines. Failure to conform to the recommended field and goal dimensions shall not be the subject of protest. It is understood and agreed that clubs / teams may be unable to provide the desired fields, equipment, etc. Flexibility is understood and allowed.
The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touch line must be greater than the length of the goal line. Recommended field dimensions are as follows:
60 m – 75 m
42 m – 55 m
The Goal Area:
Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal line, 4.5 metres from the inside of each goal post. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of 4 metres and are joined by a line parallel to the goal line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is the goal area.
The Penalty Area:
Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal line, 13 metres from the inside of each goal post. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of 13 metres and are joined by a line parallel to the goal line. The area bounded by these lines and the goal line is the penalty area.
Within each penalty area, a penalty mark is made 9 metres from the midpoint between the goalposts and equidistant to them.
An optional arc of a circle with radius 9.15 meters from each penalty mark is drawn outside the penalty area.
The distance between the posts in 5.48m (18ft) and the distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground is 1.82m (6ft).
Law 2: The Ball
Size 4 balls or 5 light balls can be used.
Specifications of a ball “size 5 light”:
Law 3: Number of Players
The minimum, maximum number of players and roster size for a 9v9 game shall be:
Unlimited substitutions may be made throughout the game. All substitutions are only allowed at the discretion of the Referee and the Referee shall be advised of all substitutions.
The rules of the competition must state in which stoppages (e.g. goal kick, corner kick, throw-in) substitutions are allowed.
Law 7: Duration of the Match
Periods of play:
The length of each half is 35 minutes. The half-time interval must not exceed 10 minutes.
Law 16: Goal Kick
All opponents must be behind the retreat line and cannot cross the retreat line until the ball:
- is touched by a player of the team taking the goal kick OR,
- leaves the field of play OR,
- goes over the retreat line. (If the goalkeeper chooses to play the ball across the retreat line prior to the retreat of opposing players)
The ball is in play once it leaves the penalty area.
When the goalkeeper has the ball at a goal kick or after making a save opposing players shall “retreat” behind the retreat line. The retreat line shall be the halfway line or a 1/3rd imaginary line on the field, in accordance with the rules of the competition.
- When a 1/3rd line is used, the marks to indicate the line shall be placed outside the field of play, at least 2m from the touchline.
- The mark must not pose any danger to players.
- The Referee has the final say on the safety of equipment used to mark the line.
Options for Goalkeepers – 5v5/7v7/9v9
How the retreat line is implemented
When the goalkeeper has the ball in their possession at a goal kick or after making a save the opposing team members would “retreat” to the predetermined area of the field. The predetermined areas are as follows:
- 5v5 – Half way line. It is recommended the goalkeeper does not drop kick the ball.
- 7v7 – 1/3rds line.
- 9v9 – 1/3rds line.
With the opposition retreating to the correct part of the field the goalkeeper can now successfully throw or pass the ball to a teammate. Once the player receiving the ball from the goalkeeper touches the ball, the ball is in play and the opposition players can pressure and attempt to win the ball.
If the goalkeeper chooses not to wait for the opposing players to “retreat” and throws or passes the ball down the field, the ball is instantly in play and does not require a player from the goalkeeper’s teamto touch the ball first.
Opponents must be behind the retreat line and cannot cross the retreat line until the ball:
- Is touched by a player of the team receiving the GK’s distribution.
- Leaves the field of play.
- Crosses the retreat line. (If the goalkeeper chooses to play the ball across the retreat line prior to the opposition crossing the retreat line)
For more information on the retreat line complete with diagrams please take a look at Ontario Soccer’s publication, Field Organization Guide. It’s available to view/ download at: