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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 33732

High School 10/24/2019

RE: All High School

Derek of Cary, IL USA asks...

This question is a follow up to question 33731

Piggybacking on his rant. NFHS hasa range of 55-80 yards for the width of the field, but many times fields are constrained due to factors outside of control.

One place I work is fenced in about 2 yards from the touchlines and goal lines, almost like an inner city basketball court. Park district controls that field. Player benches were close, but not obstructing the field.

Another place is so narrow and so short that there is only about 3 yards of space from the side of the PA to the touchline. Again they squeezed the field between two fences, one of which contains trees with branches that hang over the field. Benches are up against the fence and still only 3 feet from the touchline.

One last place was deemed unsafe halfway through the season. Construction on all four sides, rocks 2-3 feet from the touchlines, a deep ditch behind the player benches, and an extra goal unanchored near midfield. Players benches were on the touchline, the players couldn't sit down without affecting play. And with the amount of rain the Midwest got, the field was horribly saturated and it was unsafe to retrieve balls from the mud and rock infested area.

I've had an extra goal near the field fall down when play was nearby, luckily no one was hurt.

The lengths that some teams will go just to play a game is scary. Unfortunately some referees will not bat an eye at these unsafe conditions, luckily some do and concessions are made. There's a reason why governments are passing safety laws for sports: because teams and schools push the boundaries and the adults in charge allow it.

Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


As indicated in the NFHS Soccer Field Diagram, must be at least 10 feet between the touchline and team areas, spectators or any objects including fences. To play a game on a field without the 10 foot area places you as a coach, your school and its administrators and the officials in jeopardy of a lawsuit should an injury to a player or official occur.

The 10 feet requirement was put in the rules to protect players and officials and must be adhered to. I have encountered fields that did not meet this rule requirement on several occasions and refused to play the game. In all instances the situation was quickly rectified.

I recommend that you refuse to play on fields that do not meet this requirement as it does put your players in jeopardy. i do wish you success in this endeavor.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Derek
Thanks for your contribution
Whatever about pitch sizes safety should never be compromised. My advice to referees is that if there is any doubt about safety or it does not meet the dimensions criteria including run of distances then do not play the game.

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