General Modifications

The universality of the Laws of the Game means that the game is essentially the same in every part of the world and at every level. As well as creating a ‘fair’ and safe environment in which the game is played, the Laws should also promote participation and enjoyment.

Historically, The IFAB has allowed national football associations (FAs) some flexibility to modify the ‘organisational’ Laws for specific categories of football. The IFAB strongly believes that national FAs should be able to modify some aspects of the way football is organised if it will benefit football in their own country.

How the game is played and refereed should be the same on every football field in the world, from the FIFA World Cup™ final to the smallest village. However, the needs of a country’s domestic football should determine how long the game lasts, how many people can take part and how some unfair behaviour is punished.

All national FAs (and confederations and FIFA) have the option to modify all or some of the following organisational areas of the Laws of the Game for football for which they are responsible:

For all levels of the game:

  • the number of substitutions each team is permitted to use up to a maximum of five*, except in youth football, where the maximum will be determined by the national association, confederation or FIFA
  • the use of additional permanent concussion substitutions (applying The IFAB’s protocol)

*See also Law 3 for the conditions that apply to matches that go to extra time and details on the restriction on substitution opportunities.

For youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football:

  • size of the field of play
  • size, weight and material of the ball
  • width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the ground
  • duration of the two (equal) halves of the game (and two equal halves of extra time)
  • number of players
  • the use of return substitutes
  • the use of temporary dismissals (sin bins) for some/all cautions (YCs)
  • specific requirements for the captain’s compulsory armband

In addition, to allow national FAs further flexibility to benefit and develop their domestic football, the following changes relating to ‘categories’ of football are permitted:

  • national FAs, confederations and FIFA have the flexibility to decide the age restrictions for youth and veterans football
  • each national FA will determine which competitions at the lowest levels of football are designated as ‘grassroots’ football

The IFAB’s trials

There are times when a potential Law change needs to be tested or trialled to evaluate both the expected and unexpected impacts that it may have on the game. Confederations, national FAs and competition organisers must have permission from The IFAB to take part in any such trials.

In 2024/25, The IFAB’s trials will include:

  • The use of a captain-only zone around the referee in certain situations
  • The use of official cooling-off periods following some confrontation situations
  • A different approach to dealing with the goalkeeper holding the ball for too long
  • The referee announcing and explaining the final decision after a VAR ‘review’ or lengthy VAR ‘check’

Further details on, and the protocols for, all trials may be found at (in the ‘Trials’ section).

Those wishing to apply to take part in any trial should contact The IFAB using: [email protected].

Permission for other modifications

National FAs have the option to approve different modifications for different competitions – there is no requirement to apply them universally or to apply them all. However, no other modifications are allowed without the permission of The IFAB.

National FAs are asked to inform The IFAB of their use of these modifications, and at which levels, as this information, and especially the reason(s) why the modifications are being used, may identify development ideas or strategies which The IFAB can share to assist the development of football in other national FAs.

The IFAB would also be very interested to hear about other potential modifications to the Laws of the Game which could increase participation, make football more attractive and promote its worldwide development.