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Greg Johnson, NCAA.org | June 4, 2021

Soccer Rules Committee clarifies handball interpretation

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The NCAA Men’s and Women’s Soccer Rules Committee in a virtual meeting this week clarified handball interpretations to align with those of international soccer. It is not a rules change year for soccer.

Soccer officials will be trained to judge whether a handball violation occurred.

One of the key items will be that not every contact of the ball to a player’s hand/arm is a violation. Officials should judge a player’s hand/arm position in relation to their body movement in a particular situation.

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In general, a player should be judged on whether the hand/arm is being used to contact the ball away from his or her body.

In addition, when considering offside, the hands and arms of all players are not considered. The upper boundary of the arm is in line with the bottom of the armpit for purposes of determining whether a player is in an onsides/offsides position.

Women's soccer: View the 2020 DI championship final stats here

Pandemic rules changes/waivers

The rules changes and waivers implemented due to the COVID-19 pandemic will remain in effect for the 2021 season. Those include:    

  • Allowing the coaching and team area to be extended beyond 20 yards from the 5-yard neutral zone measured from the halfway line in both directions, if available.
  • If using a paper official NCAA box score, allowing the referee to visually/verbally verify the information is correct rather than requiring a signature (this is the same process for electronic box scores).
  • Enhancing the penalty for spitting at or biting an opponent, or anyone involved in the match, to a two-game suspension and categorizing it as a violent behavior II red card. Additionally, coughing at an opponent, or anyone involved in the match, will be categorized as a violent behavior II red card. All ejection and suspension rules related to violent behavior II will apply.

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