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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34425

League Specific 11/22/2021

RE: Select Under 11

William Joy of FORT WORTH, TX United States asks...

Under the new "no heading" in-play rules, what happens if?

A player heads a ball off his own goal line preventing a goal-scoring opportunity.

What is the call?

Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi William.
the no heading clause to protect the brain of younger players is based on concern for their welfare. I personaly like to see some adaptation so they can nod a ball on if it is not screaming into their face but things are what they are! Under competition rules there SHOULD be a clause for an indfk ONLY if the player deliberately headed the ball from the contact location subject to the special circumstances in the goal area . Of couse we stop for any injury and if not deliberate a DB is the likely restart There was a clause in the mini rules of just how close such an INDFK could occur to the goal ? I believe there was a set distance in youth as to how far away these kicks can occur? Apparantly that is no longer the case?

It is not neccessarty to punish any accidental impact, nor stop play if the contact is not harmful, err on the side caution but apply common sense! I do find it is not instinctive for kids to be trained to duck. Often the hands are raised for protection a wee bit more than ducking, to avoid the ball in the face So no awarding any DOGSO unless perhaps using their hands unneccessarily?

Soccer is a game where the head is used quite a lot to redirect hard or fast or high incoming balls or just a tap to keep it moving as you explode past the defenders.
Yes we make exceptions to the youth to protect their health but in this case only an INDFK is the harshest restart I would believe as appropriate. It would be a blight on the game to send off a ten year old for using their head to stop a goal . I am now aware that this is coded into the youth program as ONLY an INDFK with no other sanctions


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi William
This competition rule is age specific so the no heading applies to Under 11 and below.
In older age groups up to U14 there is limited heading in practice with no restriction in games.
In Under 11 games where no heading applies, competition rules are amended to deal with heading which will include whenever the ball strikes a player in the head that play is stopped. The proper restart depends upon whether the player deliberately played the ball with the head or not. If deliberate, the proper restart is an indirect free kick to the opposing team. If this occurs within the penalty area, the referee shall move the ball outside the penalty area and award an indirect free kick to the opposing team. Some ROCs state that the IDFK is taken from the location of the offence as per the Laws. Referees should familiarise themselves with the particular restart location rule in their area and under whose auspices the games are being played.
If the play by the head is deemed inadvertent, then the proper restart is a dropped ball. There is no disciplinary sanction for a deliberate header.
I suspect that referees will exercise a great deal of common sense to ensure that the rule is implemented as envisaged. I watch many under 11 games and heading is not a common occurrence in games. I’m sure it is the same in the US so its not something that is going to exercise many referees in decision making. The bigger concern is the ball that hits a player on the head and the impact that it can have. At these age groups it is more likely not to be deliberate on a shot.

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Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi William,

As my colleagues have pointed out, the restart for a deliberate header at U11 is an indirect free kick.

As to the position of the IFK it is as specified by ref McHugh, with the actual wording for AYSO games as follows:

"The indirect free kick is to be taken from the place where the player touched the ball with his/her head. An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team inside the opposing team’s penalty area, must be taken on the penalty area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the player touched the ball with his/her head."

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