VESL Rules and Procedures

These rules govern the VESL. Lack of knowledge of these rules will not relieve any coach, team official, parent or player of a team participating in or seeking entry into these programs from the responsibilities and possible penalties herein.

Eligibility & Registration Requirements

  • All teams must be registered with the Volunteer Elite Soccer League to participate.
  • Coaches, players, and administrators must have their US Club Soccer passes and their official US Club Soccer team roster with them at any participating event.
  • Registration is open to all players, coaches, and administrators irrespective of race, nationality, color or religious affiliation or non-affiliation
  • Information on players, coaches, and administrators, must be kept current in the US Club Soccer database.
  • Player participation is limited to age eligible youth players.
    • All players must be registered with US Club Soccer.
    • Players are registered with only one club and may not participate with any other club for league play. Guest players, defined as players from an outside club, are NOT permitted in any divisions of VESL league play.
    • Players are permitted to play with any age-appropriate team from within their own club. (see Club Pass description for details of this provision)
    • A copy of each player’s birth certificate must be uploaded to US Club Soccer prior to the distribution of a player pass.
  • Rosters for VESL league play are limited to 26 players, only eighteen players may be listed on a game day roster.
  • Players are only allowed to transfer once per soccer year (August-July), this can either be a transfer within the same club or to a new club.
  • The minimum age of a registered coach is 18 years old for 12U – 15U games and 21 years old for 16U + age groups. A coach’s pass will not be issued if these requirements have not been met. 

Scheduling of Games

  • Schedules for VESL League play are created by the League using the dates agreed upon by the VESL league member clubs. Field locations and times are provided by VESL member clubs and provided to the League Director prior to the published seasonal deadline.
  • Schedule changes may only be made with permission of the VESL. Should a change be made without approval and coordination of the VESL, the game will be forfeit by the team(s) found to be at fault and the game will be charged as a forfeit against the team(s). The team at fault will be assessed a $250 fine. If both teams are deemed at fault, they will share in the cost of the referee crew and assignor fees.

Match Day

Host Responsibility

  • VESL Club based level of play will provide benches, tents, and water/ice/cups for both teams. An VESL A-Frame will be present at the mid-field sideline between team benches.
  • Home team reports the score of each match within 24 hours using the call-in number or link provided by the VESL prior to each season.
  • Matches played at a neutral site need to be reported by the team listed as the HOME team in the VESL schedule.
  • The host team must provide at least three (3) balls for each game, the two spare soccer balls should be placed as directed by the referee crew. 


  • Spectators must be positioned on the opposite side of the field from players. Spectators may not sit behind either goal.
  • Fields must be appropriately lined with corner flags by scheduled match time. Should the referee determine that the field is not appropriately lined and set up within 15 minutes of the scheduled game time (weather not-withstanding), the home team shall be charged with a forfeit and will be solely responsible for paying the referee crew, field rental and assignor fees (see “Sanctions” for penalty assessments.) 

Game Management

  • At the scheduled time for the match, the minimum number of players will constitute a team and the match will start at the scheduled time. There is no permissible waiting period to wait for additional players to arrive at the game site.
  • Incomplete Games: In the event the game cannot be completed (by any other reason than misconduct) the following will determine the outcome: 
    • Games suspended after the first half will stand as scored at the termination of the game. 
    • If a game is tied prior to half time and the game is terminated, the game shall be replayed in its entirety. The league must agree upon a time, date, and location of the rescheduled match.

Substitution Rules: All Levels

  • Unlimited substitutions at all age groups and all levels
  • Substitutions can occur at any stoppage for either team with the referee’s consent
  • Substitutions should be made at the middle of the field and the player should not enter the field until the player he is replacing has stepped off the field of play. Players coming off the field shall do so at the nearest exit point of the field
  • Head Injury: Any player suspected of suffering a head injury must be evaluated by a licensed medical professional prior to returning to play.

Failure of Referee or Team to Appear

  • If the Referee fails to appear for a scheduled match, both coaches will be required to agree upon a substitute. 
    • If one of the AR’s assigned to the game is a grade 8, he/she will become the Referee with the other AR acting in the capacity of an AR and a club volunteer acting as a second AR. 
    • Grade 9 referees are not permitted to perform the duties of a Referee in an VESL game. 
    • If no appropriate certified referee is available to officiate the game, the home team will be charged with a forfeit. 
  • No-Shows/Forfeits: A forfeit is charged when a team willfully does not show up for a scheduled game (see “Sanctions” for penalty assessments). 
  • A team unable to attend a scheduled game due to an accident, weather conditions, or an act of God, should immediately notify the opponent and the league office. A written statement must be submitted to the League Director within 48 hours of the game scheduled (holidays excluded.) A decision regarding a reschedule will be provided within seven days of the receipt of the statement. 

Coach and Player Presence and Roles at Games

  • Each game must have a registered coach or administrator (with a current pass) from within the same club at all scheduled and played matches for the entirety of the game.
  • All players, administrators and coaches on the team sideline must have a valid pass for the team or club.
  • Failure to have a coach or administrator with a valid pass will cause the game to be terminated and forfeit by the offending team. Referee, assignor fee and field rental fees will be paid by the team at fault.
  • A maximum of four credentialed coaches or administrators per team will be on the sideline of any game.

Weather or Poor Field Conditions

  • Inspection of Playing Site: It shall be the home team Coach or Administrator with the Club’s designated authority to inspect the field prior to a match.
  • In the event of bad weather, the Home Team’s Club Official, after inspection of the field, must notify the VESL and the opposing club/team as early as possible prior to the scheduled starting time of the match that field conditions may require a postponement of the match. This authority rests with the Club Official --- NOT the coach.
  • The Referee holds the responsibility to cancel a game due to either poor weather or dangerous field conditions while at the field.
  • A game terminated by the Referee, prior to the start of the game, due to weather/poor field conditions/darkness will be rescheduled by the VESL. If the match is terminated after the conclusion of the first half, the score at the time of the termination will be the final score. 

Modifications to Laws of the Game

Rules of Play: All US Club sanctions competitions must be played in accordance with the most current FIFA Laws of the Game and the modifications noted within these rules unless specifically accepted by the VESL Board. It is the responsibility of all coaches, administrators, and referees to be thoroughly familiar with and abide by the FIFA Laws of the Game (LOTG) and the modifications below. 

Law 1: The Field of Play

  • The VESL allows each club to designate the appropriate size for all 7v7, 9v9 and 11v11 games. 
  • No Club official, club member, administrator, player, or spectator may enter the field of play regardless of the circumstances, unless the Referee has given them permission. Disregard of this law may result in disciplinary action.

Law 2: The Ball

  • 12U and younger teams utilize a size 4 ball.
  • 13U and older teams utilize a size 5 ball. 

Law 3: The Players

  • Roster size = 26 players for all age groups 
  • 12U play 9v9 with a maximum of 14 players declared/dressed for the game. Teams must maintain a minimum of seven on the field at any given time.
  • 13U and older play 11v11 with a maximum of 18 declared/dressed for the game. Teams must maintain a minimum of seven players on the field at any given time. Teams must have a minimum of eight players to start the match.
  • Two teams shall play a match with no more than the listed number of players on the field at one time, one of whom must be a goalkeeper.

Law 4: The Players' Equipment

  • Home teams will wear LIGHT uniforms. Away teams will wear DARK uniforms.
  • The Goalkeeper is permitted to wear a tracksuit or similar trousers and leggings, or other type of
    clothing in all League sanctioned events. The Goalkeeper is also permitted to wear a FIFA
    approved vinyl foam soft soccer helmet.
  • Team Captain(s) may wear an armband for identification purposes, which is to be displayed on
    the arm.
  • Shin guards are required equipment for all players and are to be worn at all matches. Shin
    guards are to be covered entirely by the players’ socks. Shin guards are to be made of suitable
    material, rubber, or plastic, to provide a reasonable degree of protection.
  • Hair control devices with any hard or sharp parts will not be permitted.
  • Earrings or any other jewelry, regardless of covering, will not be permitted.
  • Soft foam headgear, approved by FIFA, for goalkeepers or players, are approved provided that
    the Referee has determined that it is not a danger to themselves or another player. 
  • In the event of severe weather conditions, players will be permitted to wear additional clothing (leggings, stockings, track suit, etc.) UNDER their team uniform. Any additional clothing must match the color of the team uniform. No portion of the additional clothing is permitted to have metal snaps, buckles, buttons, or any other item considered by the Referee to be dangerous to others. 
  • Eyewear, Braces, Splints and Casts
    • A soft splint or soft cast is permitted, provided that the Referee has determined that it is not a danger to themselves or another player.
    • A brace, joint or prosthetic device is permitted provided that the Referee has determined that it is not a danger to themselves or another player.
    • Protective sports spectacles or plastic prescription frame sports glasses with the lenses fully contained within the frame and held on by an elastic strap are permitted. Any eyewear containing glass, metal or sharp edges are prohibited.

Law 5: The Referee

  • The Referee has the authority vested under the FIFA Laws of the Game with approved VESL Modifications to the Laws of the Game. 
  • The Referee is required to submit an official Referee Report for each match within 48 hours (holidays excluded) after the match. The Referee report must include all player, coach, administrator, spectator misconduct and include cautions, ejections, terminations, forfeits, injuries, or any other issue that pertains with the game.
  • Referees DO NOT retain player or administrator passes for ejected participants.
  • Referees have the authority to rule on all player equipment.
  • The Referee has the authority to display cards and eject players, coaches, administrators, and spectators from the game.

Law 6: The Other Match Officials

  • 7v7 games are recommended to have two Assistant Referees but are not required to do so. 
  • 9v9 and 11v11 games are required to have certified two Assistant Referees on each game.

Law 7: The Duration of the Match

  • 7v7 games are comprised of two 25-minute halves and a 5-minute half time.
  • 9v9 games are comprised of two 30-minute halves and a 5-minute half time. 
  • 13U-14U games are comprised of two 35-minute halves and a 10-minute half time.
  • 15U-16U games are comprised of two 40-minute halves and a 10-minute half time.
  • 17U-19U games are comprised of two 45-minute halves and a 10-minute half time.

There is no overtime in regular season VESL competition.

Law 8: The Start and Restart of Play

In 7v7 games, all opposition players must retreat behind the buildout line which is equidistant from the midfield line and the top of the opponent’s penalty area

Law 9: The Ball In and Out of Play

There are no current modifications for Law 9.

Law 10: Determining the Outcome of the Match

There is no overtime played in regular season VESL matches.

Law 11: Offside

Offside is played in all age groups of VESL.

Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct

Fouls and misconduct before, during and immediately after a game are determined and acted upon by the Referee. There are seven cautionable offenses that prescribe the display of a yellow card. Two yellow cards in one game = a red card. All red card offenses are punishable by immediate removal from the field of play.

Coaches, players, administrators, and spectators who are ejected, must immediately leave sight and sound of the field, and must serve a minimum of a one-game suspension in the next scheduled and played game. The VESL will provide information on further sanctions should the VESL Disciplinary Committee elect to assess further penalties.

Please see the section on MISCONDUCT for more precise information.

Scores, Standings, Tie Breakers, Team Withdrawals


Standings are kept for all 12U-19U VESL games and are determined by the following point system:

Win:  3 points
Tie:  1 point
Loss:  0 points

In the event of a tie for first place in the standings at the completion of the season’s regular game schedule, the winning team will be decided by the following tiebreakers – in order:

  • Head to Head 
  • Goal differential (max of +4/game)
  • Most goals overall (max of 4/game) 
  • Fewest goals allowed 
  • Number of shutouts


Should two teams be tied after all tiebreakers they will play each other to determine the winner. A neutral field will be provided by the VESL.


  • If a team withdraws from competition prior to having completed 1⁄2 of the originally scheduled games, all results of these games will be deleted from the records.
  • If a team withdraws from competition after 1⁄2 of the originally scheduled games, all game results will be recorded as played and the remainder of the games will be charged as 4-0 forfeits 

Promotion & Relegation

  • There will be promotion and relegation within the Premier level. In groups of more than eight teams, two teams will be promoted, and two teams will be relegated each season. In groups of eight or less, there will be only one team promoted and one team relegated each season. The VESL Board of Directors reserve the right to adjust and ensure appropriately competitive divisions.
  • For 13U - 14U there are two seasons/year --- fall and spring. There is no promotion into the club based division at the end of the Spring season
  • For 15U and older, the fall season is the only official season of the year.
  • For Premier 1, the fall season winners will be promoted into the club based division.  For the U13-14 age groups, they will join the club based division for the Spring Season.  For the U15-17 age groups, the teams will join the club based division in the fall as they age up.  The premier teams that are promoted into club based cannot be relegated.  Premier teams that are promoted into club based will not have home games unless the game is against another promoted premier team and the league has assigned them as the home team for that game.

Club Pass

Club pass may be used to assign up to five (5) players as listed below:

  • A higher-level team at the same age group 
  • Either the same or higher-level team at an older age group.
  • Under no circumstances, may players ever be utilized on a lower or younger level team.
  • Players may play a maximum of two games in one day.
  • Players can not club pass within the same division - for example if there are 2 x U19 teams playing P2, players can not be shared between these teams


  • The date that players and coaches may have first contact with each other is May 1st of each year.
  • A fine of $250 will be assessed to the club where training and/or communication with a registered player of another club prior to May 1st is reported and verified by the VESL. 
  • A five-game suspension will be assessed to any player who trains with another club’s team without written permission of his/her coach of record. 


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