2024 Rule Changes/Focus Areas

2024 Rule Changes/Focus Areas


Based on my takeaways from the 2024 referee certification training, I expect you may see some changes
to how referees approach the following areas:

  • The threshold for calling a handball offense is even tighter than in the past
  • Ask yourself – did the “ball play the hand” or did the “hand play the ball”?
    * If the ball is kicked/headed/played into a player’s hand (i.e. “ball played the hand”) it is most
    likely not a handball offense, and play should continue – even if the result benefits the player
    whose hand was struck. A player whose hands/arms move in front of their face or body for
    protection and remain tight to the body usually did not commit a hand ball offense.
    *If the hand or arm reaches out to contact the ball, particularly if intentional (i.e. “hand
    played the ball”), it most likely is a handball offense.
    *Recommend coaching your players to (a) always play to the whistle, (b) do not stop playing
    just because they think a handball occurred, and (c) don’t stop playing in order to complain
    that a handball offense was committed.
Dissent (by word or action)

Players (or coaches) who demand that the referee issue a card – through words or hand motions - are themselves supposed to receive a caution (yellow card) for “dissent.” It is OK for a captain or coach to ask why a card was not issued and the referee may answer/discuss if there is time.

However, continued disagreement, making a verbal demand for a card or making the hand motion of giving a card will be considered dissent. While the standard for dissent has not changed in 2024, enforcement is being encouraged more strongly in an effort to combat increased aggression/abuse directed at referees, particularly by players.

Thanks and have a great season!

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