Soccer Referee Resources
Ask a Question
Recent Questions

Previous You-Call-It's

VAR (Video Assistant Referee)

Q&A Quick Search
The Field of Play
The Ball
The Players
The Players Equipment
The Referee
The Other Match Officials
The Duration of the Match
The Start and Restart of Play
The Ball In and Out of Play
Determining the Outcome of a Match
Fouls and Misconduct
Free Kicks
Penalty kick
Throw In
Goal Kick
Corner Kick

Common Sense
Kicks - Penalty Mark
The Technical Area
The Fourth Official
Attitude and Control
League Specific
High School

Common Acronyms
Meet The Ref
Contact AskTheRef
Help Wanted
About AskTheRef

Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

Panel Login

Question Number: 32497

Law 1- The Field 6/8/2018

RE: Competitive/Club Under 17

Frank of Idaho Falls, Idaho USA asks...

We have 3 coaches on the roster, all are present at all games. We were told at a game that only ONE coach can be instructing players on the field, per the FIFA rules. We've read through them and can't find any mention of this... is this a rule? Or interpretation? Just haven't heard, nor been told this in over 20 years of coaching.

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Frank,
While the IFAB Laws (FIFA is no longer responsible for the Laws) do not restrict the number of coaches you can have, they do specify that only one person at a time can instruct players. The actual wording is:

''the number of persons permitted to occupy the technical area is defined by the competition rules
the occupants of the technical area:
• are identified before the start of the match in accordance with the competition rules
• must behave in a responsible manner
• must remain within its confines except in special circumstances, e.g. a physiotherapist/doctor entering the field of play, with the referee's permission, to assess an injured player
• only one person at a time is authorised to convey tactical instructions from the technical area''

You can find this info, which is part of Law 1, on page 37 of the 2018-19 Laws (.pdf version).

Read other questions answered by Referee Peter Grove

View Referee Peter Grove profile

Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Frank
This has been in the Laws for many years as far back as 1997 and beyond when we had the major rewrite of the Laws. Indeed at one time it was required that the coach after giving tactical instruction had to return to a seated position. The laws at that time stated ** Only one person at a time is authorised to convey tactical instructions and he must return to his position after giving these instructions**
That clearly caused all sorts of implementation problem for 4th officials. I recall Ireland coach at a time Jack Charlton falling foul of this in Italia 90 and FIFA reluctantly allowed him to stand in the confines of the covered area rather than demand that he sit after a spat about it with a 4th official
The Law was subsequently amended in 2009 to what Referee Grove quotes which now allows ONE coach to convey tactical instruction without the need to return to a seated position.
I also believe that certain Leagues have adopted a relaxed approach particularly when the technical staff are not causing any issue. Having said that I was marked down recently in an assessment as 4th official in a high level game for allowing two coaches to stand in the seated area in addition to the coach who was standing out at the edge of the TA. Neither coach spoke yet they were not seated. While it is not stated about remaining seated in the LotG it was part of the ROC where it stated ** All persons seated on the bench in the technical area must remain seated at all times except for the Manager or a Coach but not both simultaneously.
The Manager or a Coach is allowed to move to the edge of the technical area to issue instructions to his team and may remain there providing he behaves in a responsible manner** Certainly high level competition rules will set out being seated as a key requirement of technical area protocols as demonstrated in the above wording.
At lower levels of the game it is difficult for referees without a 4th official to manage this effectively. I have on occasion when technical area were getting difficult to insist on everyone bar one coach has to be seated. Most referees just let it slide as they have enough onfield concerns without having to bother themselves with more than one coach standing. In addition many technical areas do not have sufficient seated spaces for seven substitutes plus up to five technical staff. Some high level competition rules have strict protocols for who can be in the technical area and where non participating players / officials on the squad can sit with provision made in the allocation of technical area spaces.
So the instruction /advice given to you was correct and I suspect that in your experiences to date that no match official bothered to implement the Law as set out in the LotG.

Read other questions answered by Referee Joe McHugh

View Referee Joe McHugh profile

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Frank,
youth soccer has an interesting blend of characters . I thought yelling advice n stereo from both sides of the pitch we could energise our youth an encourage team play. It took several courses and some very good advise to realize that is NOT the way to coach kids effectively or train them to get better. It is in fact irritating & potentially aggravating to the other team just as a nuisance plus we are actually infringing on our own kids playing time because they cannot function quickly enough trying to decipher the constant steam of instructions and use their own brain at the same time.

I recall coaching a youth team with a good friend at the time. We had the other team bewildered and their coaching staff if they were not screaming instructions at their kids they were complementing our kids for the way they were distributing the ball and playing as a unit. If they had paid a bit more attention they would have seen we utilize substitutions quite frequently and those subs waiting their chance were being asked to think about their counterparts they were replacing and to look at who was marking who? Where were our successes being achieved? Was the right side vulnerable versus the left side? Where were we vulnerable?

Not only that but if we noted an on field player having difficulty losing possession or playing a narrow vision we would point this out to the counterpart waiting to replace him before he substituted to manage the situation more effectively. We had a defender, midfielder and striker on tap to jump in a ANY time if even for a minute if we needed to talk or pull out a player to readjust a tactic or explain something in detail. Our on field instructions are very concise and brief at specific times but generally we allow the kids to play their game as that is what it is supposed to be, we are not generals marshaling troops but coordinators and coaxers setting them up to succeed by giving them confidence in their OWN decisions & skill making processes.

Most referees are going to be fairly lax on the sitting/ standing as often youth matches unless at very high level, struggle to have well qualified people & all the bells and whistle of equipment & proper field set ups. Coaches can wear many hats as parent, first aider & bus driver in as much there are designated individuals to manage equipment, physiotherapy , first aid/medical trainers , ast. coaches, manager.

We are generally not overly restrictive in the technical area if there is enough room & seating . The ROC gives us the guidelines, they are enforced more at higher levels where there is greater emphasis on protocol than the rec play. My colleagues give you the IFAB doctrine which in youth soccer, in my humble opinion, if there is respect and those act responsibly we generally do not seek to create issues.

That being said if referee is trying to act in accordance with the LOTG we can not castigate them for pointing out to the coaches the CORRECT way to dispense information.

In a fairly high level match at the provincial level there were unlimited subs but 2 max at any one time but they had to be at the midline BEFORE THE stoppage. The ONLY exception was if there was an injury. Plus if they were AT the midline when we stopped they were FORCED to substitute as per WHY they were there IF they had the right to do so on possession or if the CR permitted it! If the team with possession subbed, the other team could as well. If the CR decided the situation was neutral he could proceed with the substitution as well .

In essence when you are ready to sub you stand at the midline informing the 4th or lead AR , plus your presence is likely is seen by the CR as well. The Other AR mirrors the flag and the CR determines the final wave in once those being replaced have left the FOP. What occurred was the asst coaches liked to accompany them to the midline, talking to them and when the stoppage occurred as the CR waved them in they would still be trying to talk thus DELAYING the restart or claim they did not want to substitute just yet.

By allowing the coach to LEAVE the tech area in effect the officials created a problem they did not anticipate. The CR was correct in saying to the asst coach you need to get back to your TECHNICAL area and have the conversation there! The CR was also correct in stating this is delaying the restart and those at the mid line are obligated to assume their roles as player upon the CR waving them in as that is why they are there. If they are NOT ready then they should STILL be in the TECH area.

The issue then became one of a war of wills where the coaches thought the CR was being anal and the CR was upset at the disrespect and general indifference to how the substitutions are supposed to work. To be caught in the crossfire the poor subs who could be cautioned for failing to enter as directed and the asst coach could be removed for not following the CRs directions. These are the things that could occur WHEN those in the technical area do not do as the referee asks of them. I am uncertain if standing & talking in the tech is a reason to get bent out of shape as long as no hassles for 4th or AR or CR are being generated. It is best to acquiesce to official demands if they are delivered as LOTG. conduct. It is always a good idea to treat a referee with respect and as a match condition, much like the weather or pitch surface, you simply adapt an play be it rain or sun, windy or muddy!

Read other questions answered by Referee Richard Dawson

View Referee Richard Dawson profile

Ask a Follow Up Question to Q# 32497
Read other Q & A regarding Law 1- The Field

Soccer Referee Extras

Did you Ask the Ref? Find your answer here.

Enter Question Number

If you received a response regarding a submitted question enter your question number above to find the answer

Offside Question?

Offside Explained by Chuck Fleischer & Richard Dawson, Former & Current Editor of AskTheRef

This web site and the answers to these questions are not sanctioned by or affiliated with any governing body of soccer. The free opinions expressed on this site should not be considered official interpretations of the Laws of the Game and are merely opinions of AskTheRef and our panel members. If you need an official ruling you should contact your state or local representative through your club or league. On AskTheRef your questions are answered by a panel of licensed referees. See Meet The Ref for details about our panel members. While there is no charge for asking the questions, donation to maintain the site are welcomed! <>