Annual Amendments to the Laws of the Game



The Laws of the Game of soccer are subject to amendment  annually by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).  These have also been called “rules changes,” “modifications,” or “changes and clarifications” over the years.  The IFAB tries to issue a circular containing the amendments by May 1 of each year.  Coaches need to start searching for these amendments at least by June 1 of each year, understand the implications of any rules changes, and then teach them to their players.  Soon after issuing the amendments, the IFAB tries to issue the full publication of the Laws of the Game, containing all of the rules changes, as quickly as possible.  Both the circular and the Laws of the Game are published in multiple languages.  The modified Laws of the Game go into effect on July 1 of each year.


The International Football Association Board (IFAB), founded in 1886, is the organization responsible for the standardization and control of the international Laws of the Game of soccer. The Laws are then implemented by the International Federation of Association Football (FIFA).  The IFAB is a separate organization from FIFA, although FIFA is represented on the Board and holds half of the vote, and consists of representatives from each of FIFA and the four original founding organizations of the rules applicable to association football. These four organizations are the Football Association of England, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales, and the Northern Ireland Irish Football Association.


The IFAB conducts an Annual General Meeting (AGM) in the late-winter/early-spring each year. Any amendments to the Laws of the Game that are proposed at this meeting require a minimum, three-quarters-majority vote, to be approved. Activities of the IFAB may be found on their website at

Announcement of Amendments to the Laws of the Game

The IFAB issues a “Circular,” expected annually before the end of May, which announces the Amendments to the Laws of the Game as approved at the annual general meeting. For each Law, the Circular identifies the title of the Law involved (and section, if applicable), the written alteration to the Law and to the procedures (if applicable), and the reason for the change. Rules changes are usually effective from July 1 to June 30 of the following year. The IFAB then incorporates the amendments into its annual publication of the Laws of the Game, underlining or colorizing each change and often highlighting them with a vertical bar in the margin.  The Circular and the Laws are published in multiple languages.

Soccer Coaching Tips:

– It takes time for the IFAB, and other organizations responsible for issuing rule books, to get any amendments into the publication of the “Laws of the Game.” Coaches should not wait for these publications to be issued (now mostly available in electronic form via websites, anyway), but should search on-line for amendments before June 1 of each year (Google “Amendments to the Laws of the Game – YYYY/YYYY” or visit and click on “Circulars” or the actual Laws of the Game book itself), understand the implications of any rules changes, and then teach them to their players.  When made available, the updated Laws of the Game and implications may also be found at the FIFA website (

© Copyright John C. Harves