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History of the Laws of the Game - 1990-2000

A goalkeeper picking up a ball
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Extension of the above mandatory instruction from 1990 which was made an official IFAB decision)
Decision: If, in the opinion of the referee, a player, other than the goalkeeper within his own penalty-area, denies his opponents a goal, or an obvious goalscoring opportunity, by intentionally handling the ball, he shall be sent off the field of play for serious foul play in accordance with Law XII (n).

Decision regarding when the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball:
...will be considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hands or arms. Possession of the ball would include the goalkeeper intentionally parrying the ball, but would not include the circumstances, where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.


Law IV
Equipment must be in order.

Law V

  • Competence of referee from when he enters the field of play to sanction any player guilty of misconduct or ungentlemanly behaviour.
  • send off the field of play and show a red card to any player, who, in his opinion, is guilty of violent conduct, the use of foul or abusive language or who persists in misconduct after having received a caution.

Backpass ruling: Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
On any occasion when a player deliberately kicks the ball to his own goalkeeper, the goalkeeper is not permitted to touch it with his hands. If, however, the goalkeeper does touch the ball with his hands, he shall be penalised by the award of an indirect free-kick to be taken by the opposing team from the place where the infringement occurred,...

Any free-kick awarded to the defending team within its own goal-area, may be taken from any point within the goal-area.

Law XVI - Goal-kick
To be taken from any point within the goal-area by a player of the defending team.


Law V - Referee
Decision 13: (Technical area) The coach may convey tactical instructions to players during the match.
The coach and other officials, however, must remain within the confines of the technical area where such an area is provided and they must conduct themselves, at all times, in a responsible manner.

Decision 14: (fourth official) In tournaments or competitions where a fourth official is appointed, his roles and duties shall be in accordance with the guidelines approved by the IFAB.

Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct

  • further precision of the four-step rule
  • further precision of time-wasting tactics

Precision that a player is to be cautioned and shown the yellow card as per the specific provisions. Precision that a player is to be sent off the field and shown the red card, if in the opinion of the referee, he:

  • is guilty of violent conduct
  • is guilty of serious foul play
  • uses foul or abusive language
  • is guilty of a second cautionable offence after having received a caution

Decision 18: Subject to the terms of Law XII, a player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc. If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick to circumvent article 5 (c) of Law XII, the player will be guilty of ungentlemanly conduct ...


Law I - The Field of Play
For safety reasons, the goals, including those which are portable, must be anchored securely to the ground.

*Law III - Number of Players (substitute ruling 2 + 1) * ...a team may also use a third substitute provided that he is designated as a substitute goalkeeper, who may be used to replace only the goalkeeper.
If, however, the goalkeeper is ordered off, the designated substitute goalkeeper may subsequently replace another player of the same team and play as goalkeeper.


Law III - Number of Players (three substitutes without restriction)
Up to a maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match played in an official competition ..

Law VII - Duration of the Game
The half-time interval shall not exceed 15 minutes.

Law XI Off-side
It is not an offence in itself to be in an off-side position.
A player shall only be penalised for being in an off-side position, if, at the moment the ball touches, or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

  1. interfering with play, or
  2. interfering with an opponent, or
  3. gaining an advantage by being in that position.

Laws XII - re-editing of offences
Decisions 6, 7, 10 and 13 to punish various offences

Law XIV - Penalty-kick
A penalty-kick shall be taken from the penalty-mark and, when it is being taken, all players with the exception of the player taking the kick, properly identified, and the opposing goalkeeper, shall be within the field of play, but outside the penalty-area, at least 10 yards, from the penalty-mark and must stand behind the penalty-mark.


*Law II - The Ball * As per requirements of FIFA Denominations as set forth in Decision 4 of the IFAB

Law III - Number of Players
The rules of the competition shall state how many substitutes may be nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.

Law V - Referees
Decision 7: (advantage clause) If the referee applies the advantage clause and the advantage which was anticipated does not develop at that time, the referee shall penalise the original offence.

Law VI - Assistant Referees (formerly Linesmen)

Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
provisions regarding offences that are punishable by a direct free-kick and if committed in the penalty-area by a penalty-kick;
dangerous play to be punished by an indirect free-kick.


Law IV - Players' Equipment
Now includes the statement: "If thermal shorts are worn they must be of the same main colour as the shorts."

Law V - The Referees
"Any player bleeding from a wound must leave the field for treatment."

Law VIII - The Start and Restart of Play
"The team which wins the toss shall decide which goal it will attack in the first half of the match. The other team shall take the kick-off."
"A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off."
"The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward."

Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
An indirect free-kick will be awarded if the goalkeeper handles the ball after receiving it from a throw-in from his own team.

  • «Unsporting behaviour» replaces «ungentlemanly conduct» as a cautionable offence.
  • «Failing to respect the required distance at a restart of play» becomes a cautionable offence.
  • «Delaying the restart of play» becomes a cautionable offence.

IFAB decisions 13 and 14, which relate to the prevention of obvious goal scoring opportunities now become Law.

  • «Using offensive, insulting or abusive language» replaces «foul or abusive language».

*Binding instruction * The referee has to consider that the goalkeeper is wasting time and therefore has to award an indirect free-kick against him, if he holds the ball for longer than 5 - 6 seconds.

Law XIV - The Penalty Kick
The new text states "The goalkeeper remains on his own goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked". The phrase "without moving his feet" has been deleted.

Players who enter the penalty area before the ball has been kicked need not now be cautioned.

Law XVI - The Goal Kick
"A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick."


Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
A tackle from behind which endangers the safety of an opponent must be sanctioned as serious foul play.

Acts of serious foul play are punishable by a red card.


Law V - The Referee
Amendment to point 3 under "Powers and Duties": ensures that any ball used meets the requirements of Law 2

*Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct * New Decision 6: Any simulating action anywhere on the field, which is intended to deceive the referee, must be sanctioned as unsporting behaviour.

The Fourth Official
New wording - 6th point: He has the authority to check the equipment of substitutes before they enter the field of play. If their equipment does not comply with the Laws of the Game, he informs the referee.

New point 7: He has the authority to inform the referee of irresponsible behaviour by any occupant of the technical area.

At the request of the International Football Association Board, the national associations are furthermore recommended to appoint a fourth official to top division matches in competitions organised by national associations or their leagues.

Other decisions passed by the IFAB

Use of two referees:
IFAB has authorised FIFA to conduct an experiment in which two referees officiate on the field at the same time. The IFAB sub-committee will draw up the technical conditions for the experiment in April and FIFA will then choose the league(s) in those national associations in which the experiment will be carried out.

National associations are reminded that no experiment of this kind may be made in any match without prior written permission from FIFA.


Law I - The Field of Play
New Decision 4:
(Present Decisions 4 and 5 become Decisions 5 and 6 respectively)

There shall be no advertising of any kind within the technical area or within one metre from the touch line and outside the field of play on the ground.
Further, no advertising shall be allowed in the area between the goal line and the goal nets.

Law III - The Number of Players
New text:
Other matches:

In other matches, substitutes may be used provided that
• the teams concerned reach an agreement on a maximum number
• the referee is informed before the match

If the referee is not informed, or if no agreement is reached before the start of the match, no more than three substitutes are allowed.

Law III - The Number of Players
New Decision 2:
The coach may convey tactical instructions to the players during the match and he must return to his position immediately after giving these instructions. He and the other officials must remain within the confines of the technical area, where such an area is provided, and they must behave in a responsible manner.

Law VI - The Assistant Referees
New text:


Two assistant referees are appointed whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:

  • when the whole of the ball has passed out of the field of play
  • which side is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in
  • when a player may be penalised for being in an offside position
  • when a substitution is requested
  • when misconduct or any other incident has occurred out of the view of the referee
  • when offences have been committed whenever the assistants are closer to the action than the referee (this includes, in particular circumstances, offences committed in the penalty area)
  • whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line


The assistant referees also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance.

Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
New text:
An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside his own penalty area, commits any of the following five offences:

• takes more than six seconds while controlling the ball with his hands before releasing it from his possession

(Rest of text unchanged)

Law XII - Fouls and Misconduct
New text:
Sending-off offences n°6:

• uses offensive or insulting or abusive language and/or gestures

Kicks from the Penalty Mark
New bullet points:
• When a team finishes the match with a greater number of players than their opponents, they shall reduce their numbers to equate with that of their opponents and inform the referee of the name and number of each player excluded. The team captain has this responsibility.

• Before the start of kicks from the penalty mark the referee shall ensure that only an equal number of players from each team remain within the centre circle and they shall take the kicks

Fourth Official
Amendments to bullet point:
• The Fourth Official assists the referee at all times. He must indicate to the referee when the wrong player is cautioned because of mistaken identity or when a player is not sent off having been seen to be given a second caution or when violent conduct occurs out of the view of the referee and assistant referees. The referee, however, retains the authority to decide on all points connected with play.

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