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Soccer Rules Changes 1580-2000

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Question Number: 34741

League Specific 10/17/2022

RE: Under 13

Richard evans of Redditch, Eorcs Uk asks...

The league is trialling the no heading rule for the U12.

On Saturday the attacking team won a corner and from the resulting corner a defender jumped and headed the ball which flew into the net.

The rule is that deliberate heading of the ball is an indirect free kick but this seems to penalise the attacking side who had not committed any offence.

The question is what is the correct decision.

Incidentally a goal was awarded.

Answer provided by Referee Jason Wright

Hi Richard,

Thanks for your question.

I would think you'd be able to apply the advantage law here and award the goal- though worth reminding the defender they can't head the ball as well.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe Manjone


As Jason states, the advantage law covers this situation. Penalizing the offending team would give an advantage to the offending team. In this case, the advantage for the offending team would be the loss of a goal for their opponents, the attacking team.

There are two other scenarios that could have occurred:

1. The heading of the ball is deemed not intentional and there is no violation and a goal for the attacking team is awarded.

2. The referee sounds the whistle for a deliberate heading of the ball prior to the ball entering the goal. In this situation, the violation is penalized with an indirect kick awarded to the attacking team from the spot of the violation as per the rule.

I do believe from your description it was an advantage law situation that resulted in a goal for the attacking team.

Officiating youth games can become very interesting because of the different rules at the various levels and in the various leagues.

I hope your team won.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

Hi Richard,

If there is a bylaw that states an INDFK is to be awarded for a purposeful heading it is based on the safety concept of preventing concussions and brain damage which are a proven hazard of the head and a hard or airborne fast incoming ball coming into contact with the head.

Sigh. Even if done correctly, the impact of a header can still rattle the cage so to speak which is partially instinctive in nature to want to do it even as some fear it and will duck or raise an arm, particularly at the youth level. It is regrettable in the sense a great deal of honor and dedication never mind the skill involved to accomplish it correctly was at one point highly valued.

I personally think it should not be an absolute ban, particularly on bouncing balls after they hit the ground where a simple head nodding could propel the ball forward or into open space as I have witnessed some very astute and smart kids grasping how this skill is beneficial to move by opponents Yet if two opposing astute players thought the same, a head to head clash might occur, sigh .I get safety, but then I have doubts as to the necessity of stopping all possibilities as now I see handling or ducking going on as well as balls to the face where a bent head could prevent contact .

For danger, I think more of long, high, hard, fast incoming balls while jumping up leaving the feet in lunging efforts creates more chances of being hurt despite the glory such an occasion used to elect cheers all around. Even with the ban kids will at times feel reluctant to turn away from a heading opportunity, your case in point

I would think the advantage concept would apply here in this case, it was the defending opposition who tried to head the ball deliberately so rather than award an indfk the goal that resulted SHOULD be counted as the attackers did not break any LOTG!
The young player could be reminded that such antics result in an INDFK against.

That is a messy restart inside the PA or goal area to be sure! In a youth match I watched cringing as a corner kick was in fact cleared out by a defender who headed the ball away from goal. The INDFK took place on the 6 yard goal line, it was blasted into the face of another defender on the goal line. I believe IF there is an INDFK as a result of a header being attempted it should NOT occur closer than ten yards away. That ball to the face did more damage likely than any header attempt previously. I guess you cannot protect them from everything!

While there would be no INDFK from an accidental ball to head clash
chances are safety concerns would have you stop and to check on the welfare of a youth should it occur by accident or on purpose.


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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Richard
Thanks for the question.

The advantage clause has to be used here as the attacking team has not offended the Laws nor the Rules of Competition. The goal is awarded and the player advised that heading is not allowed. If the header did not result in a goal an IDFK to the attacking team should be awarded.

If it was an attacker that headed the ball the goal would be disallowed and the opponents given an IDFK from where the header took place.

While the rule is there to prevent heading it is not absolute such as an accidental play or a decision that penalises the non offending team.

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