RULES FOR THE U8 LEAGUE
In the U8 League, our objectives are FUN and LEARNING. Referees should attempt to further these objectives by showing enthusiasm for the game and explaining infractions to offending players. The referee has wide discretion regarding retaking restarts for instructional purposes versus awarding the ball to the opposing team for rule infringements.
FIELDS AND BALL.
Two adjacent fields are used with small goals with a 2-yard opening. A halfway line is marked across the width of the field, and the center circle has a 10-foot radius. There are no penalty areas. A line similar to a build-out line is drawn so attacjking players may retreat during a goal kick. There is a 10-foot arc is marked in front of the goal. The ball is size 3.
NUMBER OF PLAYERS.
Two simultaneous games of 5-on-5 are played. Teams may play 4-on-4 or 3-on-3 if an insufficient number of players are available, but both teams must play at equal strength on a given field. For example, if a team has seven players, one field may play 4-on-4 while the other plays 3-on-3.
There are no goalkeepers. No player may enter the goal arc before the ball. This rule is to encourage shooting from a distance on a small goal, and to prevent goal tending by both attackers and defenders. Infractions by an attacker will be restarted with a goal kick. Infractions by a defender will be restarted by a free kick for the attackers from within the center circle. Referees are encouraged to use words to dissuade arc infringement rather than stopping play.
There is one center referee for each field. Assistant referees are not used, nor are club linesmen.
Coaching is permitted along the entire touch line, but not behind the goal line. Coaches may not be on the field when the ball is in play, and may not enter the field during stoppages without the permission of the referee.
Substitutes and coaches remain between the two fields, away from the touch lines Parents are not allowed to observe from the area between the two fields.
LENGTH OF GAME.
Each game consists of four 12-minute quarters with a 2-minute break between the first and second quarters and the third and fourth quarters; and with a 5-minute break at the half, during which the gray team will change fields. A kickoff is used to start each quarter. The referee must ensure that games start and end within the time allotted. The two referees should coordinate to ensure both fields start and end at the same time.
Substitutions may be made at any stoppage, with the permission of the referee. An injured player who leaves the field without substitution may return at any time with the permission of the referee, no stoppage required.
Players must wear shin guards, completely covered by socks. Shin guards should cover 80 percent of the shin and may not be altered, such as by cutting retaining straps. The referee may preclude a player from participating with inadequate or altered shin guards.
FIFA acceptable sport shoes or sneakers are required. Metal cleats shall not be worn. Hard casts that are not completely padded are prohibited. Players who wear glasses should wear a safety strap; safety lenses are recommended. Watches, necklaces, rings, bracelets, earrings, unzipped jackets, hard-brimmed hats, hoods, barrettes, any metal or hard objects worn in hair, or other items that constitute a potential danger to the player, or another player, shall not be worn. Taping over pierced ear studs is specifically not permitted. Medical alert and religious jewelry may be worn if made sufficiently safe to the satisfaction of the referee such as by taping to the body.
In judging the suitability or safety of a player's uniform and equipment, the referee's decision is final. However, an item deemed safe prior to the game may become unsafe in the opinion of the referee at any time during the game.
All opposing players must be at least 2 yards away from the thrower. The referee may allow a second chance for instructional purposes if the throw is incorrectly performed.
All opposing players must be at least 5 yards away from the ball. All restarts are indirect free kicks. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves.
Goals can be scored from anywhere on the field. Because restarts are indirect free kicks, goals cannot be scored directly from a goal kick, a kickoff, throw-in, or other free kick.