Westchester-Putnam 
Approved Soccer Officials Association, Inc.

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2020 NFHS Soccer Rule Changes


The NFHS has posted the 2020 Soccer Rule changes. Key changes include drop ball, goal kicks and free kicks inside the penalty area, and player equipment.

Also see 2020 Comments on the Rules and Points of Emphasis

And for those who referee either NISOA or USSF, see the Comparative Study of Rules and Laws (pdf)

Previous NFHS Changes

2019 2018  2017 2016 2015


New York State Modifications

TEMPORARY 2020 NYS Modifications for Return to Play

Rules and Interpretations from the NYSPHSAA Sept 4, 2020 document, Return to Interscholastic Athletics. 


NYSPHSAA, Inc. Rules Modifications to NFHS Rulebook

Rule 2: Game balls: NFHS authenticating mark is not required on game balls.

Rule 4: Player Equipment: Jewelry: Metal barrettes and/or beads are not allowed in hair (soft, pliable barrettes are permissible). Visible body piercings and body gems are not allowed.

Rule 5: The Officials: The head referee must read the NYSPHSAA Sportsmanship card, in its entirety, to the team captains and Head Coach prior to the coin toss.

Rule 6: Ball Holders, timer and Scorer: Time may be kept on the field by the head Referee. The official score may be kept by the head Referee.

Rule 7: Duration of the Game: Suspended game: In the event a game must be suspended because of conditions which make it impossible to continue play, the head referee shall declare it an official game if one complete half of the game or more of the game has been played. If less than one-half of the game has been completed, the game will be restarted from the point of interruption.

Regular Season Overtime:

BOYS: Two 10 minute SUDDEN VICTORY periods.

GIRLS: Two 10 minute periods (NO SUDDEN VICTORY)

Rule 12: Fouls and Misconduct: Multiple red cards can be issued to a coach or player in one game, during the jurisdiction of the officials, which begins 15 minutes prior to the contest and ends when the officials leave the field and its immediate surroundings.


New York State Interpretations

Rule 13 - Issued Sept 2, 2020

Rule 13-3-1 states:  “If the free kick is awarded to the defending team in its penalty area, players opposing the kicker shall be outside the penalty area at least 10 yards from the ball and shall remain there until the ball is in play. “

The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.

A question has come up about what happens if the team taking the free kick decides to take a quick restart of play while opponents are still inside the penalty area.

We have spoken with the NY State Rules Interpreter and it his ruling that if the team taking the free kick elects to do so with opponents inside the penalty area, they do so at their own risk, just as they would with a quick free kick taken anywhere else on the field. The ball is live when it is kicked and moves.

This is subject to the referee’s judgment and may be called back for a re-kick at the referee’s discretion. This re-kick would be ceremonial in nature, subject to a second whistle.

Rule 13-3-1 PENALTY states:  “An official shall caution a player who fails to move the required distance away from the ball, ……..or engages in time-wasting tactics such as kicking or carrying the ball away after a free kick has been awarded to the opponent’s team.”

In most cases a team taking a free kick from within their own penalty area will wait for the opponents to be outside the penalty area and 10 yards from the ball.  However, if they do not, the trail referee must be observant, remain alert to the possibility that a quick free kick may be taken, and be prepared to handle the situation.


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