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Summary of the Laws of Futsal

These Laws of Futsal are sanctioned by the United States Indoor Soccer Association, based on generally accepted practices and common sense interpretations of the game for purposes of youth and amateur play in the United States and Canada. As such, they reflect a tolerance respecting structural differences among venues where the game is played, as well as realities respecting playability and officiating. For stricter guidelines, see the World Futsal Association’s Laws of the Game or FIFA’s Futsal Laws of the Game.

The Playing Court

The court (i.e., field of play) shall be hard court surface suitable for sporting activity approximately 30-40 yards long and 15-25 yards wide. Markings shall include a Halfway Line, Center Circle and Penalty Areas. The Center Circle shall have about a 15 foot radius and the Penalty Areas shall be an arc, measured from the center of each Goal Line with about a 20-foot radius (existing basketball 3-point lines will do.)

The Ball

U12 and below shall use a size 3 ball, subject to the administrative authority’s review. For above U12, the ball shall be a size 4, low-bounce ball. Game balls are delivered to the Referee prior to each game. The ball may not be changed except by the Referee. At the end of each Half, the ball is maintained by the Referee. Upon the game’s conclusion, the Referee returns all of the game balls to the person or team which supplied them.


Number: For U12 and below, no fewer than 5 or more than 7 of a team’s players, including a goalkeeper, shall occupy the field at the same time (subject to the administrative authority’s review.) For above U12, no fewer than 4 or more than 6, including a goalkeeper, are allowed. A maximum of 15 players may be on a Team Bench. During an Overtime Period, neither team shall play with more than the minimum provided. In coed, the number of males on the field of play may not exceed the number of females by more than 1, not including the Goalkeeper goalkeeper (subject to the administrative authority’s review.) Up to 2 non-player personnel, and at least 1 adult, shall occupy the Team Bench during the game. No other personnel may occupy the Team Bench.

Substitutions: Each team may substitute players freely; provided that, during play, players must substitute off the field of play or within the immediate area of their Team Bench, and goalkeeper substitutions may only be made when the ball is out of play after the referee is notified.

Equipment: Players wear their team’s uniform, consisting of the same colors, shin guards, and flat-soled indoor footwear. Jewelry and other accessories are prohibited. The Goalkeeper wears jersey colors distinguished from all other field players and from the Referees.

Duration of the Game

A regulation game consists of two Halves, with duration according to “house rules” (suggested 23-minute halves with a running clock and 2-minute halftime.) If, in a tournament or playoff, the game is tied at the end of regulation, a 5-minute “Golden Goal” Overtime Period follows. If still tied, a Penalty Kick Shootout takes place.

Method of Scoring

A team scores a goal when the whole of the ball legally passes entirely over the Goal Line. A goal may not be scored from any “Indirect Kick,” as defined herein.

Game Officials

Referees and Timekeeper: There shall be a Referee and, subject to the Administrative Authority, a second Referee (generally recommended for adult and competitive levels) and Timekeeper.

Responsibilities: The Referee’s authority and duty shall be to enforce the Laws, keep the official game time, keep a record of all incidents before, during and after game, prohibit unauthorized admission to the field of play, assess court conditions for safety and conformity with Laws, and manage (and overrule, if warranted) any second referee, timekeeper or other game official.

The Start and Restart of Play

The Start of Play and all Restarts shall be “Indirect,” except for Corner Kicks or as set forth elsewhere herein, and the player who starts play may not again play the ball until it touches another player.

A Kickoff from the Center Mark starts play at the beginning of each Half and after every goal. The Home Team takes the Kickoff for the First Half Kickoff and any Overtime Period, and the Visiting Team takes the Kickoff for the Second Half. The Referee designates the teams’ defensive ends, according to “house rules.”

Restarts take place by either a Kickoff, Free Kick, Goalkeeper Distribution, or Dropped Ball. Other than for Kickoffs or as provided below, Restarts occur within three feet (3′) from the spot of the ball at the moment of stoppage.

A team receives a Free Kick after stoppages other than when a Dropped Ball or Goalkeeper Distribution is required. Before the team takes the Free Kick, the ball must be stationary. All opposing players are at least 15 feet from the spot of the Free Kick (or, if within 15 feet of the opponent’s Goal, along the Goal Line). The spot of the Free Kick is that provided above, except:

  • Within Own Penalty Arch: from any spot therein.
  • Within Opponent’s Penalty Arch: at the “Top of the Arc.”
  • Delayed Penalty:
    • (i) according to the ensuing stoppage, as normally administered, or
    • (ii) in case the defending team obtains possession of the ball during play, at the spot of the original offense. (Exception: where the original offense would have resulted in a Penalty Kick.)
  • Kick-In: from the point on the Touch Line nearest where the ball crossed over it.
  • Corner Kick: from the corner of the field nearest where the ball is last touched by the defending team before crossing over the nearer End Line;
    Superstructure Violation: from the closest of the Center Mark or Top of the Arc.
  • Cautionable or Ejectionable Offense: from the opponent’s Top of the Arc (except for Penalty Kicks.)

If neither team has clear possession of the ball at a stoppage, the Referee restarts play with a Dropped Ball. A Dropped Ball caused while the ball is inside a Penalty Arc takes place at the Top of the Arc.

Play restarts with a Goalkeeper Distrubution (or punt in U12 divisions and younger) anywhere within the Penalty Area after an attacking player has last touched the ball before crossing an End Line. Play shall restart once the ball has left the goalkeepers hand and is beyond the Penalty Area; provided the ball does not travel beyond the Halfway Line without touching the court or a player.

Ball in and out of Play

The ball is out of play when it has wholly crossed the Goal Line, End Line or Touchline, at a stoppage by the Referee, and when it contacts any part of the building other than the field of play.

Fouls and Misconduct

Fouls which the Referee deems serious or intentional shall result in a Direct Free Kick. Flagrant Fouls and Fouls committed in the opponent’s Penalty Area shall result in a Penalty Kick. All other Fouls, Unsporting Behavior, Goalkeeper Violations, Team Violations shall result in an Indirect Free Kick.

A Foul occurs if a player:

  • Holds an opponent;
  • Handles the ball (except by the Goalkeeper within his Penalty Arch);
  • Plays in a dangerous manner (e.g., commits boarding or a slide tackle);
  • Impedes the progress of an opponent (“Obstruction”), or
  • Prevents the Goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands;
  • …and when a player commits the following in a manner that the Referee considers careless, serious, reckless, or involving excessive force:
    • Kicks an opponent;
    • Trips an opponent;
    • Jumps at an opponent;
    • Charges an opponent;
    • Strikes or elbows an opponent; or
    • Pushes an opponent.

Unsporting Behavior: A Free Kick results for the following offenses:

Leverage: Using the body of a teammate or any part of the field to gain an advantage;

Encroachment: Entering the protected area of an opposing player taking a Free Kick (after initial Warning);


Other behavior which, in the Referee’s discretion, does not warrant another category of penalty (e.g., taunting, foul language.)

  • Goalkeeper Violations: The opposing team receives a Free Kick for the following violations by a Goalkeeper:
  • Illegal Handling: Bringing the ball from outside of the Penalty Arc to his hand within it, or receiving the ball again after a Goalkeeper Distribution without the ball’s having first touched another player (e.g., no drop-kicking or bouncing the ball);
  • Pass Back: Handling the ball, having been passed deliberately and directly to him by a teammate; except that he may handle a ball which a teammate passes to him by the head, chest, or knee and without “trickery” (the use of a wall or foot to flick the ball to a head, chest, or knee before making the pass);
  • Illegal Throw: Passing the ball in the air over the Halfway Line;
  • 5-Seconds: Controlling the ball with either his hand or foot inside of his Penalty Arc for over five (5) seconds.
  • Team Violations: The Referee issues a Team Penalty for the following violations by a team or unidentified person:
  • Leaving Team Bench: Players leave a Team Bench to join a fracas or confrontation with the opposition or a Game Official;
  • Bench Dissent: After an initial “Warning,” one or more unidentifiable players verbally abuse the Referee.
  • Unsporting Behavior, which, in the Referee’s discretion, does not warrant another category of penalty (e.g., too many players on the field.)

Advantage Rule: The Referee allows play to continue, notwithstanding the commission of an offense, when the team against which it has been committed will benefit from an existing offensive advantage.

Flagrant Fouls: A Penalty Kick Restart is awarded for the following Fouls committed by a defender in his or her defensive half of the field:

  • A Foul within the Penalty Arch or Goal for which he receives a Time Penalty;
  • A Foul from behind against an attacking player, having control of the ball and one or no defensive players between himself and the Goal; and
  • Any Foul where he or she is the last player on the team between the attacking player with the ball and the Goal.

Yellow and Red Cards

Cautionable Offenses: Unless otherwise provided below, the Referee issues a Yellow Card for reckless Fouls and for:

  • Illegal Substitution;
  • Persistent Infringement of the Laws;
  • Unsporting Behavior;
  • Delay of game;
  • Provoking Altercation: Making physical contact with an opponent (e.g., pushing or poking), short of fighting, or using the ball in so doing.

Ejectionable Offenses: A person receives a Red Card for Fouls, which the Referee considers violent or committed with excessive force, and for:

  • Second Cautionable Offense;
  • Flagrant Fouls
  • Foul or abusive language;
  • Intentionally impeding a clear goal opportunity by handling the ball (other than by the goalkeeper)
  • Elbowing: Intentionally elbowing an opponent above the shoulder;
  • Vicious Slide Tackling: A tackle from the side or from behind directly into one or both legs of an opponent, seriously endangering him;
  • Fighting;
  • Leaving Team Bench or Penalty Area to engage in a fracas or confrontation with the opposition or a Game Official;
  • Committing particularly despicable Unsporting Behavior, including:
    • Spitting at an opponent or any other person;
    • Persistent use of extremely abusive language or behavior toward a Game Official;
    • Bodily contact with a Game Official in dissent.

An ejected player shall leave the area visible to the field of play for the remainder of the game, and the player’s team shall play short-handed for the earlier to occur of 2 minutes or until the opposing team scores. The player who enters the field thereafter shall await a game stoppage and obtain the referee’s prior consent.

Accumulated Fouls

In the event that a team has committed more than five (5) Fouls in a half, the Referee shall notify the team that a Penalty Kick Restart shall be awarded for the remainder of the half in case the team commits another.

Penalty Kick

Penalty Kick Restarts shall be taken from the “Top of the Arc” with the intent to score directly from the kick. Meanwhile, all other players shall be outside of the Penalty Arc and beyond the encroachment area until the shooter strikes the ball. The Goalkeeper shall have at least one foot on his Goal Line until the ball is struck. The kicker shall have 5 seconds to shoot after the Referee’s whistle and shall not play the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player.

The procedure for a Penalty Kick Shootout shall be the same as that for a Penalty Kick Restart, except:

  • Both teams have equal opportunity to score;
  • The Referee designates the Goal at which both teams shoot and the team which shoots first (according to administrative policy);
  • All players, other than the player taking the shot and the defending Goalkeeper, remain within their Team Bench areas;
  • The shooter is permitted one touch on the ball;
  • Both teams have up to 3 shots, with players from each team kicking alternately;
  • If, at any time, a team obtains a 2-goal advantage, the Tiebreaker ceases and the winner is declared;
  • If, after both teams have taken 3 shots, neither has an advantage, the Shootout continues, alternating one player at a time, until both teams have taken an equal number of shots and one team has scored when the other has not.

Key Differences Among Arena Soccer, Futsal and Small-Side Soccer

Official Rules of: Indoor Soccer | Futsal | Small-Side Soccer
Arena Soccer
Small-Side Soccer
Artificial turf (in general), boardsHard flooring, no boardsArtificial turf, no boards
Standard indoor ballLow-bounce indoor ballStandard indoor or outdoor ball
3-line violationsNo offsides or red lines (3-line violations)No offsides or red lines (3-line violations)
All starts and restarts are direct kicksBoth direct free kicks and indirect free kicks are utilized according to game circumstancesAll starts and restarts are direct kicks
Blue cardsNo blue cardsNo blue cards
Time penalties for all cardsTime penalty only for red cardsTime penalty only for red cards
No foul accumulationFoul accumulationNo foul accumulation
ShootuoutsPenalty kicksShootouts
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