The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) Soccer Rules Committee approved two rules changes during its January 27-29 meeting in Indianapolis. The recommended rules changes were subsequently approved by the NFHS Board of Directors.

The committee approved a requirement that a goalkeeper must leave the field when he/she is injured and the referee has stopped the clock. This decision was made in order to minimize the risk of further injury.

Previously, an injured field player was required to leave the field of play when the referee stopped the clock, but an injured goalkeeper was not. Now, according to Rule 3-3-2, both the field player and goalkeeper must leave the field. Additionally, the goalkeeper must be replaced by either a field player or a substitute.

“The committee wanted to make sure that players who were apparently injured were evaluated by a coach or an appropriate health-care professional,” said Mark Koski, NFHS director of sports, events and development and liaison to the Soccer Rules Committee. “The overriding concern is minimizing risk to all students.”

Another rule change approved by the committee was to clarify when the jurisdiction of officials begins. It will now begin at the time of their arrival to the field of play and its immediate surroundings, and they are prepared to begin their official responsibilities.

“The original intent was to establish a minimum arrival time for the officiating crew and not to place a limit on the start of their jurisdiction,” Koski said. “Jurisdiction for officials now begins at the time of their arrival and when they are in their true role.”

Previously, the jurisdiction of officials began 15 minutes prior to the start of the game, but teams and officials are often on the field prior to that and this change allows referees to begin official responsibilities earlier.

“The committee feels that the state of high school soccer is at a good place,” Koski said. “They are comfortable with where the game is at right now and do not think that a lot of changes need to be made.”

In addition to the official rules changes, the committee added a sample of the duties for a fourth official.

“A fourth official is being utilized in many states, especially at playoff and championship games. There have been numerous requests from state associations to provide fourth official duties,” Koski said. “The committee has elected to add sample fourth official duties that may be adopted by the state associations, but are not mandatory.”

According to the 2012-13 NFHS High School Athletics Participation Survey, soccer is the fourth-most popular girls program with 371,532 participants, and fifth among boys with 410,982 participants.

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