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NJ Play Sports Soccer Tournament Rules

Soccer Tournament Rules


Set Up

• 7 participants on the soccer field maximum, including at least 2 women and maximum of 5 men (rule does not apply for men's)

• 5 players, including 1 woman required to start a game (can start game with 4 men/1 woman)  (rule does not apply for men's)

• Game time is forfeit time 

• 26 minute running clock, no half time

• No off-sides 

• Any soccer ball that goes out of play on the side lines is a KICK IN.

• NO slide tackling - Goalies are allowed to slide feet first in the box, but intentional contact with opposing player will result in a penalty.

• All free kicks are direct. 

• Any unsportsmanlike behavior may result in that player or team being suspended or removed from participating in all NJ Play events in the future. 

Forfeitures / Game Time  

• Please avoid forfeiture. Both your teammates and opponents count on you to have a full team and competitive game. Game time is forfeit time. 


• NJ Play will provide a Soccer referee for each game. No volunteer refs are required.

Play Time

• 26 minute running clock with no halftime. The clock stops only for official time-outs and injuries. Any purposeful delay of games will cause stopping of clock, at referee's discretion.


• Each team shall field no more than 7 players, consisting of 5 men (maximum) and 2 women (no maximum number of women) at a time. 

• Teams unable to field a full team may play with no less than 5 players (4 men, 1 woman). If a team has less than 5 players, a forfeit will be awarded. 

• Teams must start at game time if the minimum numbers of players required are present. 

• Only registered tournament players are able to participate.



Scoring/ Wins, Losses, and Ties 

• Win – 3 points 

• Loss- 0 points 

• Tie - 1 point 


Soccer Rules

• Players will be carded or ejected for any unsportsmanlike conduct, with referee's discretion.

• Games being with a kick-off from the center mark 

• Goals cannot be scored from opening kick-off. The ball must be touched by another player in order to score

• The opposing team must be 3 yards away from the ball for all kick-offs. 

• The referee will have two captains shoot odds/evens or rock/paper/scissors prior to the game. The winning captain will have the option of choosing sides or the ball for kick-off. 

• Unlimited substitutions of players are allowed. Teams do not need referee's permission to  substitute. No need to wait for game stoppage. All players not in the game must stand in designated area, off of the field.

• There is no off-sides rule.

• Goalie cannot pick up a ball passed back by teammate. If penalty occurs, a free kick is awarded to opposing team from the spot the ball was passed. This is the only penalty awarded with an indirect kick. 



Fouls and Misconduct 

• Dangerous plays: A player can not intentionally kick, trip, jump at, strike, hold, push, charge from behind or violently charge an opponent. Violations can result in carding or ejection from game.

• Swearing, gesturing, or arguing with the referee or any player is prohibited.

• Intentional handball will result in a direct free kick. However, a hand ball should not be called if player is instinctively trying to protect themselves from injury or the player did not deliberately touch the ball but the ball hit his/her arm/hand.

• Slide tackling is not be allowed and will result in a free kick. Second violation will result in a two minute penalty. Multiple violations will result in ejection from game.

• Referees can explain to a player why the foul was awarded. 


Free Kicks/Penalties 

• Free kicks are direct. 

• Any opposing player(s) must be 5 yards away (or ½ the distance to the goal if foul occurs in close proximity to the goal) from the ball when the free kick is taken. 

• Free kicks are taken from the spot where the foul occurred and will be appointed by referee. 

• If asking for yardage, the kicking team must wait for the referee to signal that the ball is back in play. 

• If a yellow card is given, his or her team will play down one player for 2 minutes or until a goal is scored against his or her team. During the penalty, the penalized player must be off the field for the full 2 minutes. A team cannot play more than 2 players down at a time. If 3 or more penalties occur within 2 minutes, the 3rd penalty starts after the first penalty ends, etc. All offending players must sit out until their penalty is up. 

• A penalty kick from the top of the key will be awarded if an intentional hand ball occurs in the goalie's marked box.

• If a player receives two yellow cards in one game, they will be ejected and their team will need to play one player short for the remainder of the game. 

•  Fighting and arguing with the referee will result in a red card. The player will be ejected from the game and their team will play one player short for the remainder of the game.

•  Two yellow cards result in not being able to play the remainder of the game. A red card will result in removal from the remainder of the current game. Depending on the severity of the penalty, player may be removed from the remainder of the tournament.



• The ball must wholly cross the goal line to be considered a goal. 

• After a goal is scored, the ball returns to the center, and the ball starts with the team scored upon. 


Playoff Games

• Playoff games will follow the same format (26 minute running clock). If teams are tied at the end of regulation in playoffs sudden death five minute overtime will be used. If neither team scores after the sudden death overtime period, teams will go into a penalty shootout. 


Shootout Specifics

• Each team selects 5 players (3 men max, 2 women) 

• A coin toss will decide which team shoots first. 

• Both teams shoot at the same goal. 

• Teams alternate taking direct penalty shots. If tied after the first round of penalty shots, the second round will be sudden death. (i.e., 1st player from Team A scores and 1st player from Team B misses: Team A wins). Players who shot in the 1st shootout are not eligible to shoot again until all remaining players present have shot. If and when 1 team begins to utilize players for the second time, the other team may “recycle” players as well. Therefore, some players on the team with more people present may or may not shoot. 



• Any player/team involved in a fight will be suspended from NJ Play Sports activities. Team may be forced to forfeit remaining games. 

• Any excessive contact or collision will result in a foul and possible ejection. 

• Any player abusing the official will automatically be ejected from the game without a warning.

• NJ Play Sports reserves the right to ask any offending player to leave the field and premises. 



Ranking Points (Win: 3, Tie:1, Loss: 0)

Win Percentage 

Head to Head

Points Against

Power Index (Strength of Schedule Metric)

If none of the above tie breakers resolve seeding issues there will a coin toss to break the tie



• NJ Play's ultimate goal is for you to have fun. Please keep this in mind while participating. While games may become intense, please maintain sportsmanship. Any behavior or abusive language to another player or referee, and is considered unacceptable by the referee, may result in suspension or ejection from a game or the league.



Player Protests 

In the event that a team feels that the referee or site management does not acknowledge or incorrectly assumes a written rule in the NJ Play Rule Book the captain can protest said rule. The captain is protesting the fact that the rule exists or is different from what the referee is applying to the game. They are NOT protesting the interpretation of said rule or protesting any judgment calls on the field.

When a team protests a rule they must declare they are officially protesting the rule, the game will pause while the site manager and/or team captain confirm the rule exists or that the rule is being read correctly. If the rule exists or was being read incorrectly this is considered a successful protest (see below). If the rule does not exist or was being read and applied correctly on the field, this is considered a failed protest (see below).


Successful Protests:

Protest must take place on site before the next play begins, no alterations to the game can take place after the next play begins.

Play will continue using the accurate rule

Failed Protests:

Soccer: A 2 minute yellow card must be served