SABR Soccer Laws & Rules

SABR follows the FIFA Laws of the Game with some modifications for our in-house Adult and Youth Programs. Our Team Boca Program also adheres to the FIFA Laws of the Game with some modifications as mandated by the Florida Youth Soccer Association. Our SABR TOPSoccer games are managed by our Coaches & Buddies with modifications to accommodate the needs of our special athletes.

The U.S. Soccer Federation Referee Department is the primary resource in the United States for information about the administration and governance of our FIFA referees at the national, state, and our local level.

Click here to download the most recent publication of the FIFA Laws of the Game.

SABR Adult Soccer Rules

All FIFA rules will apply with the following exceptions:

  • No slide tackles
  • Unlimited substitution on goal kicks and throw-ins
  • Flat wedding bands may be worn – no other jewelry allowed
  • Yellow card – player must leave the field and can be replaced by a substitute (does not apply to goalkeeper). Player can enter the game at the next stoppage.
  • 2 Yellow cards – player must leave the field and cannot be replaced by a substitute. Player is suspended for one additional game.
  • Red card (straight red, not two yellow cards) – player must leave the field and cannot be replaced by a substitute. Player is suspended at least one additional game and may be subject to additional suspension depending on nature of offense.
  • 2nd Red card during the season (straight reds, not two yellow cards) – player must leave the field and cannot be replaced by a substitute. Player is suspended for remainder of season and the following season.
  • Length of games – 2 x 45 minute halves
  • No water breaks

Participation in SABR Adult Soccer – including our league games – is limited to those players that are registered. Under no circumstances will unregistered players be allowed to play, even if there are not enough registered players to have a game. If teams agree to loan registered players to each other or allow registered players from other teams to participate, it is at the captains’ discretion. However, those decisions require agreement between both team captains. As long as there are at least 7 registered players on each team, the assigned referees are expected to officiate the game.

SABR Youth Soccer Rules

These are the modifications that have been approved by the SABR Board of Directors for our Youth Soccer Program. We recommend that our referees carry a copy of these rules, other paperwork we have provided to them, contact information, Laws of the Game, and a SABR Handbook to games.


A team CAN substitute on any throw-in as long as the team doing the throw-in is also doing a substitution. The players must be on the halfway line and ready to go.

BOTH TEAMS may substitute:

  • On either team’s throw-in, as long as the other team is doing a substitution,
  • On either team's goal kick,
  • After a goal,
  • After a half,
  • After the regular time of the game has expired if an overtime period is provided,
  • Water breaks, and
  • In the event of an injury (See further details under Injuries below).

HOWEVER, in any situation, you may use your discretion to not allow a substitution if the substitute is not ready to come onto the field, or for other similar good cause.

Please be sure to instruct the teams that they need to have the substitute ready at the Halfway Line and that they need to wait until you acknowledge their substitution before they come onto the field. For the older players and bigger fields (U14 and up) the substitute should wait until the player being substituted is near the touchline or off the field.

NEITHER TEAM may substitute on:

  • Corner kick,
  • Penalty kick (including a "shoot out" in the playoffs),
  • Free kick (direct or indirect) or
  • Any other restart not addressed here or in the sections below regarding yellow cards, water breaks or

For injuries we allow unlimited substitutions on both teams. If play is stopped for an injury and the player’s coach enters the field, that player, except for goalkeepers, MUST leave the field and be substituted.

For any injury where a player is unable to play the rest of the game, be sure to send the Director Referees an e-mail report of the injury and include the following information:

  • Date
  • Team Gender, Age Group and Team Name (e.g., GU14 Revolution)
  • First and Last Name of the Player
  • Nature of the Injury

Yellow Cards
When a yellow card is given in a recreational game, the player must leave the field to “cool down.” He may be substituted, but must remain off the field until the next opportunity his team has to substitute.

Red Cards and Other Reportable Misconduct
Players issued a Red Card must leave the field of play and MAY NOT BE SUBSTITUTED.

If during any game you have to issue a Red Card or reprimand any misconduct of a player, coach or spectator, please be sure to report the incident to Mr. Behrman for Recreational, Mrs. Hecht for Travel and Mr. Mayerchak via e-mail. Be sure to include in the report the following information:

  • Date
  • Team Gender, Age Group and Team Name (e.g., GU14 Revolution)
  • First and Last Name of the Player, Coach or Spectator
  • Nature of the Misconduct or Red Card

Water Breaks
Water breaks must be given somewhere in the middle of each half, even if the coaches do not want them.

On a water break, in a recreational game, any team may substitute no matter what the situation was at the time of the stoppage. In travel games, a substitution may be made only if the substitution would otherwise be allowed. For example, if play was stopped prior to a Blue Team throw in, only Blue can substitute.

All Players should remain on the field. Tell this to the coaches before the game starts. Be a little more lenient with young children in recreational games for the first few games.

This is time for a drink. This is not halftime, coaching time, etc. NO COACHING should be allowed during water breaks. Try to remember to remind the coaches of this before the game. Also, remind that no time is added to the game for the water breaks.

Stand close to the players and coaches and encourage them to get back on the field quickly. The center referee and the assistant on that side should walk to the sideline with the players and hurry them along. One to two minutes is generally enough time. Keep the clock running.

Goal Sizes

Make sure the field you are on has the correct goal sizes. We often use portable goals so DO NOT ASSUME that because the goals are at your field, that they are the right size. DO NOT ASSUME that the coaches or even prior referees have checked the goals. At the Glades Road fields, many ages play, so goals are often moved to different fields. If you happen to have a tape measure with you, great, but most of us can step off the length and judge the height by our own height and reach.

  • All the U14s to BU19s play with 8' x 24' (regulation)
  • All of the U11s and U12s play with 7' x 21'
  • The U9s and U10s play with 6' x 12'
  • Only the travel U9s/U10s use the 6' x 18'

Length of Games, Size of Ball, Goalies, Offside, and Free Kicks
Rules regarding the length of the games, the number of players, the size of the ball, whether teams play with a keeper, if offside is called, etc., as they pertain to Recreational games, are contained in the SABR Handbook for this year. If you do not have one, get one. If you forget, ask the other referees and the coaches if they have one, or at least confirm that everyone agrees on these issues. A summary of the modified rules for SABR Recreational League are as follows:

Description          U9 & U10 U11 & U12 U15 U19
Ball Size 4 4 5 5
Max No. Players 7 9 11 11
Min. No. Players 5 6 7 7
Length of Halves 25 Minutes 30 Minutes 35 Minutes 40 Minutes
Free Kicks Indirect & Direct Indirect & Direct Indirect & Direct Indirect & Direct
Opponents Distance on Free Kicks 6 Yards 10 Yards 10 Yards 10 Yards
Penalty Kicks Yes Yes Yes Yes
Referee Explains Foul to Player Yes No No No
Retake Throw Ins Only U9 (limited to one retake) No No No
Offside No Yes Yes Yes


For Travel Games, discuss this information when games are assigned to you, or if you forget, talk to the other referees, coaches, and/or field marshal before the start of the game.

Other Rules in Team Boca Travel Games

Talk about all special rules as they pertain to the age group(s) you will be refereeing with the assignor, other officials, other referees, and coaches before games. If you are still unsure of any of the following, you ought to go through these special rules with the coaches before the game to confirm that they are in agreement. If both are not, you might speak to other administrators, or a Field Marshall or Mrs. Hecht (for travel games) regarding the appropriate procedure to follow.

Examples of some of those other rules follow. These types of rules may change during the season, so make sure, even if you do the same age group all year, what special rules apply.

Mercy Rule: The boys have (had) this rule in effect: After the first half has been completed, or at any point in time in the second half where the goal differential meets or exceeds eight (8) goals, the game is considered complete and the match shall be ended. NOTE – The girls have (had) a six (6) goal mercy rule in effect.

Restriction on Punts and Free Kicks in Small-sided Games: The boys have (had) this rule in effect: In all small sided games U9 through U12; an indirect free kick from the center mark will be awarded to the opponent when a goal keeper punts, or a player kicks a free kick from one penalty area to the other penalty area without the ball being played first by a teammate.

Tournaments: If you referee in any tournament, they may have their own special rules. Be sure to ask prior to refereeing and game.

We will continue to try to notify you of any changes or errors contained herein, BUT, be sure to check the website, your e-mails, and check with assignors and officials to make sure you are aware of all NON-FIFA Rules.