Football International / Soccer

Posted July 23, 2014; Text On Page Last Edited April 18, 2018

Thank you for viewing soccer, which is usually referred to as football.  Calling the sport “football” does not tell the whole story, in that lots of goals are actually scored on “headers,” where a player hits the ball with one’s head.  Also, it is common for participants to receive a soccer ball traveling across upwards of half the field in the same fashion.  Recent studies have raised concerns about long-term effects of this activity on brain development.  Also, impact injuries can occur when more than one player attempts to “head” the ball at the same time.  As a result regulators of the sport allow headgear made of “soft, lightweight, padded material” to be worn.  Therefore, the development team of this presentation is advising all participants to equip the most substantial headgear available at all times, in addition to the customary shoes, shin guards, and athletic support.  Face masks are permitted as well, provided they involve no “parts extending out from the surface” nor “protruding elements,” which brings up an interesting point.

Soccer (2)

Equipping players’ helmets with strong face shields would give an advantage to the respective team, in terms of being able to strike and block the ball with the front of one’s face with less trepidation.  Otherwise, an individual’s natural reaction would be to orient his or her face away from the ball before impact, thereby reducing vision and reaction time in split-second scenarios.  Provided the equipment is in compliance with said regulations, teams are conceding an advantage to their opponent without doing so.  If you or your organization has developed the prototype helmet and face shield combination with verified safety ratings, please promote your product.  As a reminder padded helmets are already available and should be worn at all times during soccer, face protection notwithstanding.  If helmets are not provided to all players, leagues should consider to institute a policy where “heading” the ball is not allowed, which ties into our next topic.

Soccer (3)

As previously mentioned, much of the scoring in soccer takes place as a result of “headers.” If such actions are outlawed for safety reasons, multi-ball may help facilitate scoring.  The official amount of soccer balls in play will vary by league and team preference, though the limit is usually capped at the total number of players on the field.  This way, all soccer balls can be kicked off at the beginning of each half, and the goalkeeper has a limited amount of time to retrieve and clear after each goal.  The main adjustment would be in terms of set plays – with more than a single soccer ball on the field, it is not practical to stop the action for free kicks and penalty shots.  These occasions are instead handled with a similar approach to the “penalty box” in ice hockey, where infringing players end up in “timeout” for an established period of time, which varies based on the nature of the infraction.  As a notice one or more additional sideline officials will be necessary to retrieve any soccer ball out of bounds and set in place for throw-ins, corner kicks, and goal kicks, so participants are not leaving the playing field themselves.  If your league has established additional guidelines, please schedule a follow-up presentation at, and we look forward to your input.


On account of lower scoring in regular soccer, many elimination games are decided with penalty kicks, technically not the most suitable measure of combined offense and defense. Under this format the incentive becomes to play for a scoreless tie throughout regulation, if one team believes they are outmatched in terms of the actual game. Alternate systems under consideration:
– Compromise to introduce the multi-ball approach, only after some portion of overtime has elapsed, adding additional ball(s) after each interval to be determined (TBD).
– Instead of extra ball, remove off the field one player from each team at said interval. TBD: frequency for reducing the count; making available to the coach additional substitutions (may call for rosters to expand accordingly); minimum number of players upon which no longer decreased, likely not much beyond 3-on-3 plus goalkeeper, for comparison if an ice-hockey game begins their overtime period 5-on-5 then after intermission drops to 4-on-4 followed by 3-on-3 etc.
– Widen the goal-posts after each interval, providing an expanded scoring radius, custom build adjustable goals. TBD: amount of space increased each time; maximum total width. Along similar lines another option (not requiring new equipment) is to gradually place restrictions where the goalie is no longer allowed to touch ball with certain limbs, so the other team selects which arm or leg to ban then eventually onto other anatomical regions. More basic may be to continually reduce the area in which goalkeepers allowed to use hands.
– If persistent on some form of shootout, try with more players beyond one man against goalie. Why not have multiple members on offense begin with the ball around mid-field against equivalent defenders, stipulate different amounts of players during each round of the shootout (one of which may still be the traditional single); limited time of possession or their attempt also ends upon defense gaining possession of the ball.

References (Last Updated August 15, 2021):

Laws of the Game – FIFA
FIFA World Cup
– UEFA Champions League
CONMEBOL Copa America
The Football Association Challenge Cup
CONIFA – Confederation of Independent Football Associations
United States Soccer Federation – U.S. Soccer
– International Table Soccer Federation
– Rules – British Foosball Association
Brawl Stars PSG Cup
Rocket League
Frequent Soccer Ball Heading May Lead to Brain Injury – Yeshiva University
Soccer and the Brain (Heading for Trouble?) – UW
Is Soccer Bad for Children’s Heads? – NAP
– Soccer Headgear and ASTM Product Performance – NFHS
FIFA 14 Patch Addresses Overpowered Headers and Finesse Shots – EGM Now
– Board of Governors OKs 3-on-3 OT, Coach’s Challenge – NHL
– College Football Overtime Rules – SI
Multi Ball Game – Top Soccer Drills
Multi Ball Game to Improve Soccer Thinking Skills – Better Soccer Coaching
– Home Movies – Shout Factory TV