Early registration for Monday leagues ends today. Lock in a discount now.

Referee Handbook


Staff Overview » Referee Handbook


Referee at league game


From all of us at SOPFC, thank you for your interest in and work officiating our adult league games. We hope this handbook will help make the game a great experience for you, the players, and the Field Managers on site.


SOPFC offers leagues in several formats, each with multiple divisions based on skill level, and our Referees play a crucial factor in how much our players and teams enjoy their time on the field and return to play again each season.





Rules of the Game - SOPFC official rules


Referee Time Management - Arrival, pre-game, start


Pre-Game Chat Instructions - Prior to kickoff


Referee Carding Guidelines - Issuing yellows vs reds


Shift, Schedule & Coverage Info - Manage work schedule



SOPFC-Specific Rules


Some of our rules differ from other leagues and/or FIFA. Important highlights below.


I. Pre-Game Rules


1. Each game consists of two 25-minute halves plus a 2-minute halftime or less pending time constraints.


2. Each team must have at least 5 players from their team/roster to start a 7v7 game.


3. Coed League Rules: No more than 5 men are allowed in the field of play at any time in a Coed 7v7 league - 2 players must not be men (the goalkeeper may count as one of these two players). In order to satisfy these requirements, a team may play with only 5 or 6 players - there must be at least five total players on the field though. If any player receives a yellow or red card, the remaining players on the field still cannot exceed 5 men.


4. Over-30 and Over-40 League Rules: all team players must already be 30 or 40 years of age (respectively) or older by the first game date of the season, no exceptions. All players must present ID with age verification upon request by the Referee or staff in order to participate.


5. If a team shows up late, there is a 10-minute window before that team must forfeit the game, so long as the other team was ready at the start of the game. The game must start as soon as 5 players are present; a team may not wait for a 6th or 7th player before you blow the whistle to start play.


6. Teams must have a designated goalkeeper in a jersey of a different color than their own team, the opponent's team, and the Referee.


7. Players may not wear cleats or shoes with any type of metal. (Shin guards are encouraged but not required.)


8. No jewelry allowed, unless it's a wedding band or form of medical identification.


9. No billed hats allowed, except for the keeper.


II. Start of Play


1. Play starts on your whistle.


2. Home team kicks off first.


3. The ball does not have to go forward to start play. Teams may start play by kicking the ball directly backwards.


III. Rules of the Game


1. No sliding.


  • Sliding will be defined as anything other than the feet touching the ground during an intentional sliding play with an opposing player within playing distance (5-6 yards). Players are allowed to go to the ground to play the ball in all other situations.
  • Goalkeepers may slide inside the penalty box leading with either hands or feet if done safely and with intent to play the ball, subject to your discretion.
  • If a player commits a slide (or if a goalkeeper commits a slide outside the box), an automatic yellow card should be issued.


2. No offsides.


3. No keeper punts or dropkicks.


4. Substitutions on stoppages of play only.


  • The Referee must be informed before any substitution may take place.
  • Substitutions may only be initiated by the team in possession of the ball, including throw-ins, corner kicks, and free kicks. The team not in possession may substitute only after the team in possession initiates a substitution. Either team may initiate a substitution on goal kicks, kickoffs, and injury stoppages.


5. All free kicks are direct, except for own team backpass to the goalkeeper or goalkeeper punting infractions, which are both indirect.


6. Five yards must be given on free kicks by defending team.


IV. Fouls and Misconduct


A. Yellow Cards

Yellow card


1. If a yellow card is issued, referee must stop play, and clearly state who receives the card.


2. Any yellow-carded player must sit out for two minutes before returning to play. Substitution for the offending player is not allowed; a team must play down a player for the full two minutes, and wait for your signal to bring any player (including the yellow-carded player if desired) back onto the field at the midfield line.


3. If a second yellow card is issued to the same player, the offending player receives a red card, and is ejected from the game. Their team must play a player down for the remainder of the game.


4. Yellow cards should be issued in all cases for the following:


  • Any intentional or retaliation foul.
  • Any slide committed (except by the goalkeeper inside the penalty box).
  • Any foul in which the last defender fouls the player who has beaten them.
  • Any dissent or insubordination towards the referee.


B. Red Cards

Red card


1. If a player receives a red card, they are ejected from the game and their team must play a player down for the remainder of the game.


2. Red cards should be issued in all cases for the following:


  • Fighting, throwing a punch, kicking, biting, or stamping towards another player.
  • Verbal abuse, or continued insubordination of the Referee.
  • Any racially or sexually abusive language or actions towards another team or player.
  • Any studs-up slide tackle.
  • A second yellow card for the same player.



YouTube Tutorials


SOPFC Referee Pre-Game Chat Demo:




A quick way to improve your refereeing:




Helpful tips even for experienced Referees:




Your nonverbal communication goes a long way:




Thank you so much for keeping games running smoothly, fairly, and safely. We'll see you soon on the pitch!


« Back to Staff Overview