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Adjustments to the Laws

Palo Alto AYSO games follow the FIFA Laws of the Game very closely, with only a few modifications to adapt to AYSO's philosophy and to adapt the game to the physical and mental maturity of the players.  All modifications are made only as permitted by FIFA rules.  All AYSO referees should have a copy of the current AYSO Edition of The Laws of the Game, which contains both the FIFA Laws and AYSO's modifications to them.

AYSO Rules of Competition

Most of AYSO's Rules of Competition and modifications to the Laws are printed into the AYSO Edition of The Laws of the Game (and are also included in the Region 26 Referee's Handbook).  A document that contains a lot of relevant information for referees is AYSO Guidance for Referees and Coaches. The full text of AYSO's Rules and Regulations and Policy Statements from which these come can be found, along with other official AYSO documents, at AYSO National's Resources page.

Age Difference Changes
Unlike many youth soccer leagues, AYSO limits substitution times to make it practical for the referee to ensure that "everyone plays" at least 3/4 of the game.  In U14 and younger games, substitutions are therefore only allowed at halftime and at two "substitution breaks" midway through each half.

  • U14 and above games use the full FIFA Laws of the Game on standard sized fields, and are officiated using the Diagonal System of Control. Assistant Referees may be associated with the team, but the Referee must be neutral.
  • U12 and above games use the full FIFA Laws of the Game on a reduced size field, with 9 players, and are officiated using the Diagonal System of Control. The Referee should be a "neutral" (not related to anyone on either team) certified official. A parent may be an Assistant Referee in his or her child's game.
  • U10 games use the full FIFIA Laws of the Game on reduced sized fields with 7 players, and are officiated using the Diagonal System of Control, with parent referees, using either a three-referee team or two-referee team plus one "club linesman", depending on the number of referees available. See U10 Laws and Procedures.
  • U8 games are officiated by a single ("solo") parent Referee from one of the two teams. More information on referee assignment in the various age brackets can be found in the Referee FAQ. See U8 Laws.
  • U5 & U6 games are not formally officiated at all; instead, they are "facilitated" by their teams' coaches. 

More Information
See Fall (Regular Season) for additional critical information on tailoring for the different age groups.

Substitution Rules for U16 and U19 Games
U16 and U19 games, unlimited, monitored, "free" substitutions are allowed (with the Referee's permission) throughout the game. Details can be found in the Rules Governing Free Substitutions.  The Palo Alto AYSO policy of each player participating in 3/4 of the game must still be observed. 

ID Cards
For inter-regional play in U14, U16 and U19 during the Fall Season, Area 2A does not require player ID cards.  Individual tournaments in the Spring Select season may require ID cards.

Player Equipment
Both The Laws of the Game and the AYSO Rules of Competition prohibit players from wearing anything that, in the opinion of the Referee, may be dangerous to either themselves or another player. Because disputes about the danger of specific items keep arising, Region 26 has issued a List of Prohibited Items. Items not on this list may also, of course, be deemed dangerous by the Referee on the field.

Protect the Keeper
In AYSO the keeper position should not be any less safe than any other position, and the referees and coaches should do their part to ensure keeper safety.

Referees must be particularly protective of the keeper in the younger age groups.  Players in the younger age groups do not have the control to safely, even if legally, aggressively challenge a keeper who is moving to possess the ball.  

Referees should warn players who display a tendency to aggressively challenge the keeper, before their play becomes dangerous. 

A referee may whistle for an indirect free kick if a challenge to a keeper is dangerous, or, depending upon the situation may whistle for a direct free kick foul if conduct is careless, reckless or using excessive force (and show the card as appropriate).