Whitehorse Rapids Indoor Rules

Based on the prior years rules for the Whitehorse Rapids Over-35 Men’s Soccer League, and the Alberta Soccer Association’s indoor soccer rules (PDF), with several minor simplifications and clarifications.

FIFA Laws of the Game (www.fifa.com) apply unless otherwise indicated in this rule booklet. The purpose is to ensure fun, fair, and clean competition with due regard to the rules of the game.

These rules are subject to change without notice, and as deemed fit by the rules committee.

Chris Donohoe is Chief Referee for the league, and as a result all referee coordination and rules decisions, interpretations etc. are overseen by Chris, in consultation with the league executive.

The Rules

A. Equal Time

All players will make every conceivable effort to respect the principle of equal time on the floor for all team members.

B. Respect

At all times, players will show respect to the referee, their opponents, and their team mates. Disrespectful behavior may be subject to discipline.

C. Start Time and Default

All games are to be played at the Whitehorse Canada Winter Games Center. All games are to be played in the Field-house (turf floor), or Flexi-hall (turf floor). Change rooms and showers are provided at the facility.

Players are expected to appear before the official start time as times are reserved and pre-paid at the CWG Centre. A team must have five (5) registered and paid players to start, one of whom will play goalkeeper. A team not showing at the scheduled kickoff time will be provided a 10 minute grace period. If the grace period elapses, and a team still has four or fewer players one of two things must happen:


  1. that team forfeits the official game and a 5-0 loss is entered in the records. If possible, the players will then be reorganized and a friendly game played. The referee will officiate the friendly game as if it were an official game, including the awarding of cards if deemed appropriate. Or;
  2. if both teams agree, one or more players may be added to the short-sided team and an official game will be played, and the time per half will be reduced accordingly to account for lost time.

D. Game Time

Games shall consist of two (2) equal halves of twenty five (25) minutes, or as adjusted above in the event of a team being short players. Teams are entitled to a minimum interval time of three (3) minutes Overtime, if required only by the competition format, shall be divided into two equal halves. Regular league games do not incur overtime.

E. No Pay no Play

Unregistered, unpaid players are not allowed to play in any league game. Any member of the Disciplinary/Rule committee, or any player, may advise the referee before the game of players who are ineligible to play. If a team plays with an unregistered player, they forfeit the game.

F. The Field of Play

Dimensions: The field of play will generally be as shown in the following diagram, and includes a team bench and a penalty box. The boundary lines and the goal lines are defined by a perimeter wall, which is part of the playing area. Length = 180 feet, Width = 80 feet. The top of the boards is a part of the playing area.

Team Benches: An area off the playing surface is provided for each team. Substitutes for the team must remain in the team bench area.

Referee’s Crease: No team official or player may enter this space to discuss points of interpretation with the referee without the express permission of the referee.

The Penalty Area: The Goalie may handle the ball within the Penalty Area.

The Restart Line: A broken line is drawn approx. 3 feet inside the perimeter wall on each side of the playing surface, going from corner mark to corner mark. A free kick or dropped ball restart, for a stoppage nearer to the boards than this line, will take place on the restart line.

Goals: Goals posts and crossbar are flush with the perimeter boards, and the goal is recessed into the perimeter boards. The goal 3m wide by 2m high.

G. Player Equipment

Uniforms: Official league shirts, from the current year, are mandatory at all games for registered players. The league has committed to sponsors that all registered players will wear an official shirt bearing their sponsors logo. The shirts may or may not be numbered and, as a result, referees will record players' names when recording goals or booking offences. Both Goalkeepers and Referees will wear a shirt or jersey which is distinctive from that of their team.

Shinguards: Shin guards are mandatory, and must be completely covered by the sock.

Other: A player may not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player, this includes watches, bracelet, and necklaces and most other kinds of jewelry. A player wearing a rigid cast is not permitted to play. A player may be permitted to wear a brace at the referee’s discretion.

Ball: We will play with a size 5 reduced bounce synthetic leather ball. The referee shall select the game ball. Footwear: Indoor soccer shoes are appropriate for both turf and wood surfaces. Only non-marking shoes are permitted on the wood floor. Footwear must be clean. Footwear worn outside is not permitted on the fields.

Footwear: Indoor soccer shoes are appropriate for both turf and wood surfaces. Only non-marking shoes are permitted on the wood floor. Footwear must be clean. Footwear worn outside is not permitted on the fields.

H. Players and Substitutions

Number of Players: A team may field six players one of whom must be a goalkeeper. A match may not start if either team consists of four or less players.

Pick-up Players: A team that has less than 7 players (including goalie) at the start of the game may pick up additional league players in order to achieve up to 7 players.  Should additional team players join the game late, the pick-up players could be asked to leave. Other teams have right of refusal for a floater ONLY if the requesting team already has a sub. if the requesting team has no subs, then opposing team does not have a veto.

New Players: A player must be registered and play in 3 league games to be permitted to take part in the playoffs.

Substitutes: Substitution may be made at any time, on the fly as follows:

  • the player must first leave the field. A player is considered to have left the field if he is inside the restart line between the ends of his team’s bench area, and as long a he is not interfering with play.
  • once the player has left the field, the substitute may enter the field from either gate to the team bench.
  • all substitutes are subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the referee

Too Many Men Infringement: If a substitute enters the field of play without a player having first left the field, or the player being replaced intentionally interferes with play after the substitute has entered the field, play will be stopped and an indirect free kick will be awarded against the violating team. If an incoming seventh, eighth, or further player is involved in the play, that player is to be cautioned. If the incoming player(s) can not be identified, the referee will caution the player closest to the players bench. Just one player will be cautioned if more than one is in violation.

I. The Referee

Each match is to be controlled by a referee who enforces the Rules of the Game. The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final. The referee may only change a decision on realizing that it is incorrect at his discretion provided that he has not restarted play.

J. The Rules of Play

Preliminaries: The team listed as the home team has the right to decide which goal it will attack in the first half of the match. The team listed as the visitors takes the kick-off to start the match. In the second half of the match the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.

Kickoff: A goal may be scored directly from a kick off.

Three Line Rule: A three line violation occurs when the ball is played by a player in his own defensive zone, and the ball crosses all three lines in the air without touching another player, the referee, the field or the boards. For a three line violation, the referee awards a free kick to the opposing team to be taken from the place where the ball crossed the first defensive line. The three-line rule also applies on goal kicks.

Slide Tackles: No slide tackling is permitted by any player and is a cautionable offense when attempted. No collapsing over the ball is permitted by any player except by goalies when making a save. No player may slide when in the vicinity of another player, excepting goalies within their area, when making a save.

Ball out of Play: the ball is out of play when it:

  • wholly crosses the side perimeter wall;
  • strikes the any part of the side or ceiling netting;
  • strikes any structure above or overhanging the playing surface.

Ball In Play: The ball is in play at all times, including when:

  • it rebounds from any part of the boards (including the tops)and remains in the field of play
  • it rebounds from the referee on the field of play
  • it touches a player who has technically left the field by being within the restart line and between the gates to the bench, and who is being replaced by a substitute, but who is in no way attempting to play the ball or interfere with play.

Restarting play after an Out of Play Ball: As in the outdoor game, when the ball goes out of bounds, possession goes to the team which did not touch it last. Play is restarted by a goal kick, a corner kick or a free kick.

Free Kicks: All free kicks in indoor soccer are direct. No exceptions. This means you can always score directly from a free kick, as long as no other rule is violated by doing so (Eg. 3 line rule). Opponents must always be at least 10 feet away from any free kick.

  1. The Goal Kick: A goal kick is awarded when the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the attacking team, passes over the perimeter boards between the corner marks, and a goal is not scored.
  2. The Corner Kick: A corner kick is awarded when the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the defending team, passes over the perimeter boards between the corner marks, and a goal is not scored.
  3. Ball out of Play: A ball going out of play along the sides of the playing area results in a free kick, with the ball placed at the restart line (dotted line 3 feet from the boards) from where it went out of play, not from where it was kicked.
    • A ball hitting the ceiling is placed on the floor under where it hit.
    • A ball hitting the ceiling above the penalty area is placed at top of the penalty arc.
    • A ball hitting the ceiling above the restart line is placed at the restart line.
  4. Direct Free Kicks: In addition to the normal FIFA offenses like tripping, kicking, pushing, charging, poor tackling, holding and spitting; direct free kicks are also awarded in the indoor game for slide tackles and boarding, either attempted or committed. Also, unlike the outdoor game, which uses indirect kicks, the indoor game awards direct free kicks for all technical fouls. Technical offenses include playing in a dangerous manner (high kicks), impeding progress, preventing the goalkeeper form releasing the ball, or any other offense not covered explicitly anywhere else. All free kicks are taken from the spot of the foul, excepting those that occur in the penalty box – see below.
  5. Fouls in the Penalty Box - The Penalty Kick: A penalty kick is awarded against a team which commits an offense inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play. All players, other than a kicker and a goalie, are outside the penalty area and behind the penalty mark. The ball is placed on the penalty mark - which is the top of the circle., and the Referee signals when the kicker may take the penalty shot. The referee decides when a penalty kick has been successfully completed, and for a variety of reasons may order the shot retaken. There are two exceptions noted below.


a) Technical fouls (playing in a dangerous manner (high kicks), impeding progress, or any other offense not covered explicitly anywhere else) against the defensive team committed in the penalty box result in a direct free kick to be taken from the top of the penalty arc, not from the penalty mark (this is slightly different from outdoor play where a technical foul results in an indirect kick from the spot of the foul, even when they occur in the penalty box).

b) Fouls for any of the goalie handling fouls (see below). These goalie fouls all result in a direct free kick to be taken from the top of the penalty arc - (again this is different from outdoor where this foul would result in an indirect kick from the spot where the keeper touched the ball).

6. Goalie Fouls any of the following four offences:

a) if a player deliberately passes the ball back to his own goalkeeper from any other zone of the playing field except the passer’s own zone (between his defensive zone line and the goal line) and the goalkeeper handles the ball. This includes instances where a team makes a series of passes or a player dribbles the ball back to the goalkeeper across the defensive line into the defensive zone. However, the goalkeeper may play the ball in any other manner so long as he does not handle the ball;

b) touches the ball again with his hands after it has been released from his possession and has not touched an opponent;

c) touches the ball with his hands at any time after having had the ball under control and unchallenged for more than 5 seconds;

d) having taken the ball in his hands, fails to release the ball within 5 seconds.

Walls and Bodies: All players will exercise due caution and common sense when playing near the walls or in the corners. The referees will whistle the play dead if there is any risk of injury. Play will restart with a free kick or drop ball depending on circumstance. Trapping a player against a wall is not permitted. Forcing, riding or driving a player into a wall (boarding) is a cautionable offense. If a defender has position along a wall, an attacker may not force his way between the defender and the wall. The defender is not required to give way. Hands are permitted to touch the wall if such touching increases player safety, or if the hands are merely resting and not supporting the player. Players may not push off or otherwise use the wall in order to gain a physical advantage.

Red and Yellow Cards: A player is cautioned and shown yellow cards and red cards as per the FIFA mandated cautioning rules. In all cases the referee shall apply their discretion. Referees may reverse their decisions after the fact at their discretion, or after consultation with the chief referee.

In addition to FIFA rules, yellow cards will also be issued for:

  1. forcing, riding or driving a player into the boards (unintentional boarding);
  2. slide tackling or attempts to slide tackle;

In addition to FIFA rules, red cards will also be issued for:

  1. intentional boarding, or any other intentional attempt to injure;

A player receiving a red card must leave the field of play and the players benches for the remainder of the day and is automatically suspended for his subsequent full over-35 league game. In addition there must be a meeting of the disciplinary/rules committee to determine if additional punishment is desirable. The suspended player may not resume play until the committee has reached a decision.

A penalty kick is awarded against a team receiving a red card. A team does not play short handed after a player receives a red card, but continues with 5+goalie. In the event that a goalie receives a red card they cannot be substituted by a player or goalie from another team both during the game the card was received and the following game. On field red card start from the when the first whistle blows until the last whistle including extra time and penalty kicks. 

A player who accumulates three yellow cards in separate Rapids sanctioned games at any point in the season is automatically suspended for the next league scheduled game, subsequent to the one in which the third yellow is awarded, but continues to play the game in which he received the third yellow. In addition there must be a meeting of the disciplinary/rules committee to determine if additional punishment is desirable. The suspended player is also ineligible for any sanctioned non-league events, like friendlies or tournaments, until the suspension is lifted by missing a scheduled league event. All Yellow cards will be removed before the start of the playoffs and all players start with a clean slate.

K. Playoff Games

Playoff games shall consist of two (2) equal halves (usually 25 minutes). In the event of a tie, two additional equal halves (usually 8 minutes) shall be played to determine a winner.

If the game remains tied at the end of extra time the teams shall have a shoot out to decide the match.

  • Subject to all normal FIFA rules both teams take five kicks:
    • The kicks are taken alternately by the teams, until one has more goals and the other cannot catch up.
    • Kicks will be taken from the top of the semi circle. 
    • Each kick is taken by a different player, and all eligible players must take a kick before any player can take a second kick.
    • If, after both teams have taken five kicks, both have scored the same number of goals kicks continue to be taken be the remaining eligible players until one team has scored a goal more than the other from the same number of kicks.
    • In the event of an unequal number of eligible players between the two teams, and the score remaining tied, the referee shall advise both teams that they may restart the eligibility list, when the team with the lesser amount of players has used up all eligible players.

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