Last updated: Fed 23nd, 2021 @ 11:20 AM




Laws of the Game_16-17_Digital_Eng2019 Law Changes2019 Law Changes



Player Development Initiatives 2016

2019 Law Change overview



Old Law: The deliberate act of the player making contact with the ball with a hand or arm is considered a foul.

New Law: A deliberate handball remains an offense.  But the new Law 12 also adds several situations that will be a foul, even if accidental:

*if the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm

*if a player gains control of a ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then scores or creates a goal-scoring opportunity

*if a ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger

*if a ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder

Free Kicks

Old Law: The old rules do not specify what the attacking team can do if the defending team sets up a wall.

New Law: The revisions to Law 13 specify that when there is a wall of three or more defenders, the attackers are not allowed within 1 yard of the wall.  Attackers less than 1 yard from the wall when the kick is taken will be penalized with an indirect free kick.

Dropped Ball

Old Law: In a dropped ball situation, the referee drops a ball in between two players who then try to win possession.

New Law: Such a contested drop ball is effectively outlawed.  If play is stopped inside the penalty area the ball is dropped to the goalkeeper (though, somewhat ironically, there is still no requirement for the goalkeeper to take a goal kick or free kick inside the penalty area), regardless of which team had possession.  If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the point of the last touch.  In all cases, all other players (of both teams) must be at least 4.5 yards away.

The Referee

Old Law: A referee is considered an obstacle, like a goalpost, and if the ball strikes the referee, the teams play on.

New Law: If the ball touches a referee and goes into a goal, starts a promising attack, or changes possession, a dropped ball is awarded.

Goal Kick

Old Law: The ball has to leave the penalty area on a goal kick in order to be in play, otherwise the kick is retaken.

New Law: New Law 16 specifies the ball is in play once the kick is taken and can be played before leaving the penalty area.

Kick Off

Old Law: Winner of the coin toss could choose the direction in which they attack.

New Law: New Law 8 specifies the team that wins the toss can now choose to take the kick-off or which goal to attack.

Penalty Kicks

Old Law: The goalkeeper had to remain on the goal line until the kick is taken.

New Law: The revised Law 16 specifies a goalkeeper needs to only have one foot on the goal line (or in line with the goal line if jumping) when the kick is taken.


Old Law: Players could leave at the halfway line.

New Law: A player who is being substituted must leave the field by the nearest point on the touchline/goal line (unless the referee indicates the player can leave quickly at the halfway line or a different point because of safety or jury).

Team Officials

Old Law: No cards for coaches and other team officials, though numerous leagues and regions in the US implemented cards and/or ejection procedures for coaches, managers and parents.

New Law:  A team official guilty of misconduct will be shown a yellow card (caution) or red card (sending-off) and if the offender cannot be identified, the senior coach in the technical area will receive the card.