Soccer Roster Rules

Soccer Roster Rules

During the FIFA World Cup and other competitions that play under the Laws of the Game, there are certain rules and regulations regarding the team roster. Read on to learn more about the roster rules in soccer.

Number of Players

According to the Laws of the Game, a match is played between two teams of no more than eleven players. Only one of these players on the pitch is permitted to be the goalkeeper. Matches are not allowed to be played if a side has less than seven players available on the pitch.

Number of Substitutions

During each FIFA-regulated match, a maximum of five substitutions are allowed. During top division or senior international tournaments, there are a maximum of three substitution opportunities and any additional substitutions can be made at half-time. Also, if the maximum number of substitutions are not used up by the end of regulation time, they may be used during extra time.

Each competition carries its own rules on the number of substitutions, but there will always be between five and fifteen substitutes named and a maximum of six substitutions made.

Substitution Procedure

The list of substitutes must be submitted to the referee prior to each match. If a player’s name has not been submitted to the referee as a substitute, they will not be able to be substituted into the match. Players may not return to the game after they have been substituted out.

The procedure for how a player must be substituted is as follows:

  • The player must inform the fourth official of their intention to be substituted into the game, and must provide the name of the player they are substituting.
  • The substitute may enter the field of play once the player they are substituting has left.
  • The substitute must enter from the intersection of the halfway line and touch line.
  • If done during half-time or extra time, the substitution must be completed before the match restarts.

Changing the Goalkeeper

The goalkeeper may be substituted in any soccer competition. However, the referee must be informed of the substitution before it takes place, and the change needs to be made when there is a stoppage of play, similar to all other types of substitutions. No more than one player may play goalkeeper at the same time.

Infringements and Sanctions

If a named substitute starts a match instead of a named player and the referee is not informed of this change:

  • The referee will allow the named substitute to continue playing.
  • No disciplinary action may be taken against the named substitute.
  • The named player can become a named substitute.
  • The number of substitutions is not reduced.
  • The referee reports the incident to the appropriate authorities.

If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the referee’s permission, the referee:

  • Allows play to continue
  • Cautions both players when the ball is next out of play or during the next available period

For any other substitution-related offense, any player involved will be cautioned and play will be restarted with an indirect free kick from the spot that play was stopped.