Laws of the Game Change Summary - 2020/21

This summary reflects some of the most common situations encountered in BAYS matches. For the full text of the recent changes to the Laws of the Game (LOTG) with interpretations/explanations please see the 2020/2021 IFAB Laws of the Game as adopted by FIFA.

Full league playing rules can be found here:

LAW 3 – Substitutions 

BAYS Clarification: Players shall leave the field at the nearest boundary in front of their team's bench unless otherwise instructed by the referee. 

LAWS 5 & 12 – Team Officials 

A team official (coach) guilty of misconduct shall be shown the yellow/red card. If a team official cannot be identified, the yellow/red card shall be shown to the senior team official (coach) in the technical area. 

LAW 8 – Kick-off 

The team that wins the toss can now choose to take the kick-off or which goal to attack (previously they only had the choice of which goal to attack). 

LAWS 8 & 9 – Dropped Ball 

Dropped ball situations will no longer be contested. Only one player shall be present at a dropped ball. All other players shall be a minimum of 5 yards away from the dropped ball area. 

  • If play is stopped in the penalty area, the ball will be dropped to the goalkeeper regardless of who touched the ball last. 
  • If play is stopped outside the penalty area, the ball will be dropped for one player of the team that last touched the ball at the point of the last touch. 
  • The ball is out of play and a dropped ball is awarded if the ball touches the referee (or another match official) and goes directly into the goal, team possession changes, or a promising attack starts.  

LAW 12 – Handball 

It is an offense if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm toward the ball
  • gains possession/control of the ball after it has touched their hand/arm and then:
    • scores in the opponent's goal
    • creates a goal-scoring opportunity
  • scores in the opponent's goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

It is usually an offense if a player:

  • touches the ball with their hand/arm when:
    • the hand/arm has made their body unnaturally bigger
  • the hand/arm is above/beyond their shoulder level (unless the player deliberately plays the ball which then touches their hand/arm)

The above offenses apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close.

Except for the above offenses, it is not usually an offense if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

  • directly from the player’s own head or body (including the foot)
  • directly from the head or body (including the foot) of another player who is close
  • if the hand/arm is close to the body and does not make the body unnaturally bigger
  • when a player falls and the hand/arm is between the body and the ground to support the body, but not extended laterally or vertically away from the body

IFAB 2020/21 Handball Clarification:

  • The boundary between the shoulder (no handball) and the arm (handball) is defined as the bottom of the armpit.
  • ‘Accidental’ handball by an attacking player (or teammate) is only penalized if it occurs ‘immediately’ before a goal or clear goal-scoring opportunity

The goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player outside the penalty area. If the goalkeeper handles the ball inside their penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded but there is no disciplinary sanction.

​LAW 12 – Delaying the Restart of Play to Show a Card

Once the referee has decided to caution or send off a player, play must not be restarted until the sanction has been administered unless the non-offending team takes a quick free kick, has a clear goal-scoring opportunity and the referee has not started the disciplinary sanction procedure. The sanction is administered at the next stoppage; if the offense was denying the opposing team an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the player is cautioned.

LAW 13 – Free Kicks 

When there is a wall of three or more defenders, attackers are not allowed within 1 yard of the wall; an attacker closer than 1 yard from the wall when the kick is taken will be penalized with an indirect free kick. 

When the defending team is taking a free kick within their defensive penalty area, the ball is considered “in play” when it is kicked and moves. The ball does not have to leave the penalty area to be played by either team. 

LAW 14 – Penalty Kick 

The team’s penalty taker may receive quick treatment/assessment and still be allowed to take the penalty kick. 

The goalkeeper must not be touching the goalposts, crossbar or nets. They must not be moving prior to the signal for the kick to be taken. 

The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot on/in line with the goal line when the kick is taken. The goalkeeper cannot stand behind the line. 

BAYS Clarification still in effect : For 3 rd and 4 th grade, all players except kicker and goalkeeper must be on kicker’s defensive side of the half-line. 

LAW 16 – Goal Kick 

The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. The ball is not required to leave the penalty area. Any player may play the ball once it is in play. 

BAYS Clarification still in effect : For 3 rd and 4 th grade, defenders must retreat to the half-line, but opposing team may kick before all defenders have retreated. 


This summary reflects some of the most common situations in BAYS matches. Full changes with interpretations/explanations can be found in the 2019/2020 IFAB Laws of the Game as adopted by FIFA.

It is recommended that you download the IFAB Laws of the Game app on your smart phone. It is free and available in the App Store or in Google Play. 

Still have questions regarding the changes, contact: [email protected]

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