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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33707

High School 10/14/2019

RE: High School

Stephen Swan of Elizabethtown, KY United States asks...

NFHS rule on stopping the clock in the last 5 minutes of the second half of regulation or overtime. Intent is to eliminate time wasting by team in lead. Is the clock stopped if both teams are subbing in the last 5 minutes?

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Stephen,
As ref McHugh states, this change is mentioned in rule 3-4-3 and only applies to the team in the lead. The change text for rule 3-4-3 also references rule 7-4-3 which actually carries a fuller description and explanation, as follows:

7-4-3 NEW. The clock shall be stopped when a substitute by the team in the lead is beckoned onto the field in the final five minutes of the second period only.

Rationale. Coaches in the lead will make multiple substitutions in the later stages of the match. This tactic is being used as a time-wasting ploy. Adding this rule will help the game to be decided by the players and not a coach who is wasting time when in the lead. These substitutes are usually players from the far side of the field that take more time off the clock. This addition would stop this practice.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


NFHS Rule 7-4-3 states: 'The clock shall be stopped what a substitute by the team in the lead is beckoned onto the field in the final five minutes of the second period only.' Please note that the 'only' refers to the second period.

The Comments on the Rules Changes on Page 80 of the NFHS Rules Book gives the clarification of this rule and the answer to your question. 'This change helps prevent potential time-wasting tactics utilized at the end of the game. The clock will now be stopped in the last five minutes of the game any time the team in the lead makes a substitution.'

Even though both teams substitute, the clock is stopped in the last five minutes because the team in the lead substitutes.

I have been told that this is not a popular rules change and there have already been requests made to the NFHS that this be rule be removed when the Soccer Rules Committee meets in January.

I understand that Kentucky's district, region and state tournaments will soon be starting. I hope that you have a successful remainder of the season and get to work in the tournaments.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Stephen
An addition was made in Rule 3-4-3 to state that the clock should be stopped when the leading team makes a substitution within the last five minutes of the second period. The new rule is meant to prevent coaches in the lead from wasting time and running the clock when no plays are being made.
As written it applies to the team in the lead only.

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