Referees

Referee policies


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Safe play, fair play, and sportsmanship are the top priorities of the Northern Virginia Coaches League (NOVA-CL). Our referees are a mainstay of achieving this aim as they enforce fair play, keep players safe, and look for stormy weather which could endanger participants and spectators.

In this way, the referee's responsibilities are the same as other leagues. However, the match environment presented by NOVA-CL differs in three important ways:

  • We use a single-man referee system
  • Player cards are not required
  • Teams pay the referee fee at the field, not the league

As  result, NOVA-CL recommends that referees follow these best practices when officiating league matches:




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submit match
report

    NOVA-CL soccer referees are required to submit a report following all matches they officiate. In addition to scores, the league tracks vital data which helps improve the overall game experience for player, fans, and officials.

    SUBMIT REPORT HERE(Referees and Assignors Only)
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    white division
    - rules -

      The White Division of the Northern Virginia Coaches League soccer plays its matches on Friday nights. It is a competitive, open-age division. While the home team schedules the referee, both teams split the referee fee prior to the match. Additional information regarding White Division rules is found below.

      1. If a match is played on Friday night, it is in our open-age, competitive White Division.
      2. In general, the White Division of NOVA-CL follows FIFA rules. Until further notice, the league will not implement the 2019 FIFA changes to the laws of the game (LOTG). The only exception will be new FIFA rule regarding substitutions rule. We will allow substitutions on any stoppage of play (FIFA) with referee permission.
      3. All players in NOVA-CL must be at least 18-years-old, even if a parent or relative is a participant in the league.
      4. Due to the league's reliance on single man referee systems, responsibility for match tenor, sportsmanship and the conduct of individual players lays with the team managers and on-field captains.
      5. Each team will name at least one on-field captain. Captains serve as the primary point of communication between the referee and players during the match. The captains will also assume a leadership role in maintaining his own team's composure and that of individual players. As permitted by the game situation and flow of play, the captain(s) will obtain referee's perspective on calls/decisions, and then convey them to his team. Conversely, if players have concerns about reckless play, or other questions about the match, the captain will convey them to the referee.
      6. At the direction of the referee, captains and shall review common friction areas before the match commences such as: 1) single-man referee limitations related to offside and how the referee will address them; 2) how the referee will interpret hand ball infractions; 3) the referee's expectations for calling out-of-bounds balls; and 4) the referee's tolerance for dissent. Captains will then convey this info to their players prior to the start of the match.
      7. In the White Division, slide tackling is permitted.
      8. Although NOVA-CL is primarily a men's league, we also encourage co-ed teams and welcome women to play, especially in the Grey Division where matches have a recreational tenor.
      9. Rules on Substitutions:  There are no substitution limits. We allow substitutions on any stoppage of play (new FIFA rule) with referee permission. If a team chooses to substitute, so can the other team. The league recommends that the referee discuss substitutions with both teams prior to the start of the game.
      10. Shin guards are required by all players. FIFA rules and referee assignors require them for the protection of the players. All players should wear shin guards. Any item of clothing that might injure another player must be removed like metal neck chains or watches.
      11. Requirements of Carded Players:   Any player who receives a red card must immediately depart the field and facility. Red carded players may not remain on the sideline. Any player receiving a yellow card for any reason shall be required to immediately leave the match and serve a 5-minute penalty on the sideline. The player is eligible to return to play after the penalty is served. Referees will notify the team captain and the player involved of the game time when the player can return. While the penalty is being served, teams with more than 11-players attending the match may substitute for the offending player and will not have to play a man-down. In cases when a team has only 11-players attending a match, the player must still serve the 5-minute penalty even though it may result in playing a man-down.
      12. Sanctions for Red Cards: Any player receiving a red card for any reason shall serve a minimum of a one game suspension. The suspension will be served during the next match his team plays, not in the next scheduled match. The player or team manager shall provide the referee with the player's name for inclusion in any referee report that may be submitted to the league.
      13. Managers are required to notify the league director of any red cards for player assault. Depending upon the circumstances and severity of the incident, the player involved will serve a minimum of a 3-game suspension with longer suspensions a possibility. The player involved must meet in-person with the league director prior to returning to NOVA-CL. If the player is involved in any other player assault at any time in the future, he will be permanently banned from NOVA-CL.
      14. Managers are required to notify the league director of any red cards for referee assault. The league director will investigate all allegations of referee assault by reviewing referee reports, statements from managers of the teams involved and discussions with the player involved. If the allegation is proven true, the player involved shall serve a minimum suspension of 5-games and must meet with the league director prior to returning to NOVA-CL. Depending upon the severity of the assault, the league director shall have the discretion to ban the player involved from all NOVA-CL games. If the player is involved in any other assault at any time in the future, he will be permanently banned from NOVA-CL.
      15. The home team is listed first in the league game matrix.  The home team is responsible for scheduling the referee.  The home team provides nets, flags and all other items for the game. The guest team just shows up. Both teams and spectators are expected to conduct themselves as gentlemen (and women) and behave in a sportsmanlike fashion.
      16. All teams must use independently assigned referees. To avoid the appearance of bias and to facilitate independent review of allegations of player and referee assault, all teams in NOVA-CL shall be required to use independently assigned referees listed on the league website.
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      grey division rules

        The Grey Division of NOVA-CL plays its matches on Saturday evenings. The division is for players age thirty and over (O30). Although friendly rivalries between teams do exist, play in the Grey Division is non-competitive and recreational-focused.

        Therefore, the Grey Division has special rules regarding use of underage players and slide tackling. The home team is responsible for scheduling and paying the referee fee in full prior to the start of the match.

        1. If a match is played on Saturday evening, it is in our Grey Division.
        2. In general, the Grey Division of NOVA-CL follows FIFA rules. Until further notice, the league will not implement the 2019 FIFA changes to the laws of the game (LOTG). The only exception will be new FIFA rule regarding substitutions rule. We will allow substitutions on any stoppage of play (FIFA) with referee permission.
        3. All players in NOVA-CL must be at least 18-years-old, even if a parent or relative is a participant in the league.
        4. Due to the league's reliance on single man referee systems, responsibility for match tenor, sportsmanship and the conduct of individual players lays with the team managers and on-field captains.
        5. Each team will name at least one on-field captain. Captains serve as the primary point of communication between the referee and players during the match. The captains will also assume a leadership role in maintaining his own team's composure and that of individual players. As permitted by the game situation and flow of play, the captain(s) will obtain referee's perspective on calls/decisions, and then convey them to his team. Conversely, if players have concerns about reckless play, or other questions about the match, the captain will convey them to the referee.
        6. At the direction of the referee, captains and shall review common friction areas before the match commences such as: 1) single-man referee limitations related to offside and how the referee will address them; 2) how the referee will interpret hand ball infractions; 3) the referee's expectations for calling out-of-bounds balls; and 4) the referee's tolerance for dissent. Captains will then convey this info to their players prior to the start of the match.
        7. The Grey Division is technically an over 30 division. If teams wish to play any players under 30 it's done only with prior notification and consent of the captain of the opposing team. Generally, no more than two U30 players may be on the field at the same time.
        8. In the Grey Division, slide tackling is only permitted if both teams agree to allow the practice.
        9. Although NOVA-CL is primarily a men's league, we also encourage co-ed teams and welcome women to play, especially in the Grey Division where matches have a recreational tenor.
        10. Rules on Substitutions:  There are no substitution limits. We allow substitutions on any stoppage of play (new FIFA rule) with referee permission. If a team chooses to substitute, so can the other team. The league recommends that the referee discuss substitutions with both teams prior to the start of the game.
        11. Shin guards are required by all players. FIFA rules and referee assignors require them for the protection of the players. All players should wear shin guards. Any item of clothing that might injure another player must be removed like metal neck chains or watches.  Shin guards are required for safety reasons.
        12. Requirements of Carded Players:  Any player who receives a red card must immediately depart the field and facility. Red carded players may not remain on the sideline.  Any player who is issued a yellow card for any reason shall be required to immediately leave the match and serve a 5-minute penalty on the sideline. The player is eligible to return to play after the penalty is served. Referees will notify the team captain and the player involved of the game time when the player can return. While the penalty is being served, teams with more than 11-players attending the match may substitute for the offending player and will not have to play a man-down. In cases when a team has only 11-players attending a match, the player must still serve the 5-minute penalty even though it may result in playing a man-down.
        13. Sanctions for Red Cards: Any player receiving a red card for any reason shall serve a minimum of a one game suspension. The suspension will be served during the next match his team plays, not in the next scheduled match (which may be canceled due to rain or other conditions). The manager of the team involved shall provide the referee with the player's name for inclusion in any referee report that may be submitted to the league.
        14. Managers are required to notify the league director of any red cards for player assault. Depending upon the circumstances and severity of the incident, the player involved will serve a minimum of a 3-game suspension with longer suspensions a possibility. The player involved must meet in-person with the league director prior to returning to NOVA-CL. If the player is involved in any other player assault at any time in the future, he will be permanently banned from NOVA-CL.
        15. Managers are required to notify the league director of any red cards for referee assault. The league director will investigate all allegations of referee assault by reviewing referee reports, statements from managers of the teams involved and discussions with the player involved. If the allegation is proven true, the player involved shall serve a minimum suspension of 5-games and must meet with the league director prior to returning to NOVA-CL. Depending upon the severity of the assault, the league director shall have the discretion to ban the player involved from all NOVA-CL games. If the player is involved in any other assault at any time in the future, he will be permanently banned from NOVA-CL.
        16. The home team is listed first in the league game matrix.  The home team is responsible for scheduling the referee.  The home team provides nets, flags and all other items for the game. The guest team just shows up. Both teams and spectators are expected to conduct themselves as gentlemen (and women) and behave in a sportsmanlike fashion.
        17. All teams must use independently assigned referees. To avoid the appearance of bias and to facilitate independent review of allegations of player and referee assault, all teams in NOVA-CL shall be required to use independently assigned referees listed on the league website.