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Coaches to Receive Caution for Improperly Equipped Players in High School Soccer

Beginning with the 2007-08 soccer season, if a player enters the game improperly equipped, and it is discovered by an official, the coach will be cautioned (yellow card).

This addition to Rule 4-3 was one of four major rules changes approved by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee at its January 28-29 meeting in Indianapolis. The rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

"Rule 4-3 previously placed responsibility on the coach to ensure that each of his or her players is properly equipped," said Tim Flannery, NFHS assistant director and liaison to the committee. "This change will now provide a consequence for coaches who fail to comply with the rule."

As a result of this addition to Rule 4-3, a portion of Rule 5-2-2-d-3 was deleted that required the official to examine the uniform and equipment of each player to ensure compliance with the rules. While the legality of player equipment is determined by the referee, the head coach has the responsibility to ensure that players are properly equipped.

A change in shinguard requirements approved last year aimed at reducing the risk of injury has been delayed one year. Instead of 2007-08, shinguards must meet the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) standard effective with the 2008-09 season.

"Not all manufacturers could guarantee that shinguards would be available prior to the start of the fall (2007) season in all areas of the country," Flannery said. "This will give manufacturers more time to adequately supply these types of shinguards to local equipment suppliers."

Bob Lombardi, chair of the NFHS Soccer Rules Committee and associate executive director of the Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic Association, said although the requirement has been delayed one year, the eventual implementation will be a positive step for high school soccer.

"Players no longer will be able to wear inappropriate, undersized shinguards," Lombardi said. "Manufacturers are required to produce shinguards that will minimize risk to players. Correctly sized and safety-regulated shinguards should greatly assist in the reduction of leg injuries in high school soccer."

The new NOCSAE shinguards will be stamped or labeled with the NOCSAE logo. They will specify which size is correct for a particular sized player, making it easy for players, coaches and officials to differentiate which shinguards are to be worn.

The final major rules change involves placement of the team benches on opposite sides of the field. Although team benches are on the same side of the field in most cases, Rule 1-5 does allow an exception for teams to be placed on opposite sides of the field. Beginning next year, when teams are placed on opposite sides of the field, they shall be placed diagonally across from each other.

"With this change, substitutes will be able to be seen easier since they should no longer be standing in front of the team benches," Flannery said.

Several editorial changes were made, with the most significant ones in Rules 1-4-1 and 5-3-1. The rules committee clarified in Rule 1-4-1 that portable goals should be anchored at least two yards in front of the base of the existing football goal posts, not two yards in front of the uprights. Rule 5-3-1 clarifies the mechanic that is to be used by officials when coaches or bench personnel receive a subsequent caution for misconduct. The correct mechanic calls for showing a yellow card first, followed by a red card, as opposed to showing the yellow and red cards together.

Soccer is the fifth-most popular sport for boys and girls at the high school level. According to the 2005-06 High School Athletics Participation Survey, 358,935 boys are involved in soccer and 321,555 girls participate in the sport. 

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