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Question Number: 32004

Law 3 - The Players 11/6/2017

RE: Competitive Under 13

Eugene of San Jose, CA USA asks...

US Soccer recommends small-sided games for youth players.

However, it doesn't appear to be an allowed modification by IFAB LOTG Am I misreading the LOTG, or is US Soccer non-compliant?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Eugenie,
youth soccer has been filled with innovations of late so there will be conflict with certain aspects . The no heading & build out line are recent adaptations. FIFA is aware the idea of kids soccer is fun and safety and then the development of skills which is why they allowed law variations for length of play ball sizes field sizes substitutions etc... The IFAB has tried to re-establish control in the wake of the corruption within FIFA .Adults telling other adults how the kids can have fun oh the wonder of it all. Sigh

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Eugene,
You are right that reducing the number of players is not one of the listed modifications in the IFAB's Laws of the Game.

All I can say that for as long as I have been involved in football as a coach or referee (around 35 years now) various youth organisations and competitions I have come across in various different countries have used smaller-sized pitches, balls and goals - which are permitted - and along with that as far as I recall, almost all of them also reduced the number of players accordingly. To me, it only seems logical that you would reduce the number of players - it doesn't make a lot of sense to try to shoe-horn 22 players onto a tiny field.

So while technically not listed as one of the permitted modifications, small-sided games have been an accepted part of the game for a long time and especially nowadays are becoming increasingly more so.

In England for example, the FA publishes guidelines for small-sided games and since this is such a widespread phenomenon I think there is an element of tacit approval from FIFA/the IFAB since there is no way that they are not aware of something that is such common practice.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Eugene
Youth in an IFAB sense typically meant from age 16 to 18. IFAB also has allowed association to make further modifications on request which can include the number of players.
So rather than being non compliant it can easily be the case that permission has been granted. Given that it is now happening the world over I would also expect that rather than say individual approvals being sought that it now covered by precedent.
The fact that IFAB has not censured the modification is in my opinion tacit approval and compliant.

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