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Soccer rules committee backs changes to align with international competition

Protocols for penalty kicks, free kicks proposed

The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee recommended proposals that would align collegiate soccer more closely with international rules.

The committee, which met via teleconference last week, supported modifications for protocols for goalkeepers during penalty kicks and where attacking players can stand when the defending team has a wall of three or more players during free kicks.

All rules proposals must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which is scheduled to discuss soccer recommendations April 20.

On penalty kicks, goalkeepers would be required to have at least part of one foot on or in line with the goal line when the kick is taken. Also, goalkeepers could not be touching the goal posts, crossbar or the net before the kick is taken.

On free kicks, attacking players would be required to be at least 1 yard from a defending team’s wall of three or more players. Attacking players standing very close to, or in, the defensive wall on free kicks often cause management problems and hurt the pace of play of the match.  

If the attacking player is less than a yard from the wall when the kick is taken, the offending team would be penalized, and the opposing team would receive an indirect free kick.

Additionally, when a defending team takes a free kick in its own penalty area, the ball would not have to leave the penalty area before it is played.

“The committee responded to the abundant number of requests by the coaches to bring our rules book more closely in line with the IFAB Laws of the Game,” said Mike Kemp, interim committee chair and senior associate athletics director at Omaha. “I think that the efforts made by the committee thoughtfully addressed the suggested rules changes that made the most sense for the collegiate game. These changes should improve an already beautiful game.”

Violent behavior

The committee also recommended redefining the fighting rule and recategorizing many of those acts under the current fighting rule into a violent behavior II red card. 

Violent behavior II violations would include unwarranted excessive force that is so extreme and severe that it places an opponent in danger of physical injury. These acts include, but are not limited to, head butting, elbows to the face or head, stomping or kicking a defenseless person, and hair pulling. Players deemed to have committed a violent behavior II offense would serve a two-game suspension, which is also the current penalty.

Violent behavior I violations would include unwarranted excessive force when not challenging for the ball, which is the current definition for violent behavior. Players removed from the field for violent behavior I offenses would receive a one-game suspension.

Since many acts that are currently within fighting are being recategorized into violent behavior II, fighting will be more traditionally defined. A fight is defined as a deliberate strike or punch or an attempt to strike or punch a player, official, coach or bench personnel in a malicious manner. Players ejected for fighting would serve a two-game suspension.

Other rules recommendations

  • Allowing all members of the official coaching staff to communicate with each other via electronic devices regardless of if they are on-site.
  • Allowing the use of video review to correct timing issues.
  • Allowing protests to be filed only in situations involving player identification and illegal participation of players, coaches and team personnel.