Law 3 - Number of Players

  1. A match shall be played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom shall be the goalkeeper.

  2. Substitutes may be used in any match played under the rules of an official competition under the jurisdiction of FIFA, confederations or National Associations, subject to the following conditions:

    1. that the authority of the international association(s) or National Association(s) concerned has been obtained.

    2. that, subject to the restriction contained in the following paragraph (c), the rules of a competition shall state how many, if any, substitutes may be nominated and how many of those nominated may be used

    3. that a team shall not be permitted to use more than two substitutes in any match who must be chosen from not more than five players whose names may (subject to the rules of the competition) be required to be given to the referee prior to the commencement of the match.

  3. Substitutes may be used in any other match, provided that the two teams concerned reach agreement on a maximum number, not exceeding five, and that the terms of such agreement are intimated to the referee, before the match. If the referee is not infomed, or if the teams fail to reach agreement, no more than two substitutes shall be permitted. In all cases the substitutes must be chosen from not more than five players whose names may be required to be given to the referee prior to the commencement of the match.

  4. Any of the other players may change places with the goalkeeper, provided that the referee is infomed before the change is made, and provided also that the change is made during a stoppage of the game.

  5. When a goalkeeper or any other player is to be replaced by a substitute, the following conditions shall be observed:

    1. The referee shall be infomed of the proposed substitution, before it is made.

    2. The substitute shall not enter the field of play until the player he is replacing has left, and then only after having received a signal from the referee.

    3. He shall enter the field during a stoppage in the game, and at the half-way line.

    4. A player who has been replaced shall not take any further part in the game.

    5. A substitute shall be subject to the authority and jurisdiction of the referee whether called upon to play or not.

    6. The substitution is completed when the substitute enters the field of play, from which moment he becomes a player and the player whom he is replacing ceases to be a player.


    1. Play shall not be stopped for an infringement of paragraph 4. The players concerned shall be cautioned immediately the ball goes out of play.

    2. If a substitute enters the field of play without the authority of the referee, play shall be stopped. The substitute shall be cautioned and removed from the field or sent off according to the circumstances. The game shall be restarted by .

    3. For any other infringement of this Law, the player concerned shall be cautioned, and if the game is stopped by the referee to administer the caution, it shall be restarted by an IFK, to be taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was when play was stopped, subject to the overriding conditions imposed in Law 13.

    4. If a competition's rules require the names of substitutes to be given to the referee prior to the commencement of the match, then failure to do so will mean that no substitutes can be permitted.

Decisions of the International F.A. Board

  1. The minimum number of players in a team is left to the discretion of the National Associations.

  2. The Board is of the opinion that a match should not be considered valid if there are fewer than seven players in either of the teams.

  3. A player who has been ordered off before play begins may only be replaced by one of the named substitutes. The kick-off must not be delayed to allow the substitute to join the team.

    A player who has been ordered off after play has started may not be replaced.

    A named substitute who has been ordered off, either before or after play has started, may not be replaced.

    (This decision only relates to the players who are ordered off under Law 12. It does not apply to players who have infringed Law 4.)

[Rules.] [Law 2: The Ball.] [Law 4: The Players' Equipment.]