When the 2012-13 boys soccer season kicks off throughout Montgomery County, there will be two significant rules changes as implemented by the National Federation of State High School Associations.
The first is the elimination of the so-called soft red card. When a player receives a second yellow card during the course of a match, the player will be disqualified from the rest of the game, and the team will be forced to play shorthanded. In the past, a team was allowed to substitute for the a player disqualified by two yellow cards.
“The more it's aligned with international rules, FIFA rules, the better it is for the game,” said Walter Johnson coach Michael Williams. “It eliminates confusion among players. I think a lot of coaches want to get rid of that. We don't know why it was made. We feel like high school boys are big enough to handle anything.”
In addition, any player who deliberately handles the ball in his own penalty area to prevent a goal will be disqualified only if his attempt to deny the goal is successful. If such an attempt is made, but a goal is scored, there will be a caution issued. In the past, a player was disqualified for attempting to stop a goal from being scored by illegal means regardless of whether or not it was successful.
For Williams, this rules change isn't as cut-and-dry.
“I think that's a tough one, because I don't think it happens quite often,” he said. “I think if a person is trying to prevent a goal, it should be the same penalty. The referee has a hard time trying to determine intent. It leaves a lot in the hands of the ref to try and interpret quite a bit.”
“I think the problem is if a player attempts to use his hands to stop it and doesn't touch it, is that the same as someone who gets his hand on it and it still goes in?”
Two of the significant rules changes prior to this season were intended to improve the level of sportsmanship displayed by players, according to the NFHS, an umbrella organization that oversees scholastic sports rules across the country.
“The Soccer Rules Committee continues to focus on improving the level of sportsmanship in high school soccer,” said Mark Koski, NFHS director of sports and events and liaison to the Soccer Rules Committee, in a news release.