Tournament Rules

The tournament is open to USYS and US Club affiliated players and adults.

The Shoe City Classic 4v4 tournament is played under FIFA rules with amendments as described below. If there is no specific exception below, then FIFA laws of the game shall prevail. In the event of a conflict between these rule exceptions and FIFA rules, the Shoe City Classic rule modifications shall prevail.

All decisions of the Shoe City Classic tournament director are final. The tournament director shall also have the final authority to make adjustments to match schedules, match duration, and other aspects of the tournament as may become necessary during the course of the tournament.

Field of play

All games will be contested on small sided fields. The approximate dimension of the each field shall be: 30 X 35 yards

Shoe City Classic reserves the right to adjust the sizes of certain fields for reasons of safety and maximizing the use of space available for the tournament fields. Each field will have a goal crease that is a semi circle approximately 3 yards in radius directly in front of each goal. The ball may not be touched by either team while the ball is in or above the goal crease area.

~ A touch of the ball is defined as altering the flight or natural path of the ball in any manner.

~ If a defender touches the ball while the ball is in the goal crease a goal is awarded to the attacking team and play is restarted with a kickoff at center field.

~ If an attacking player touches the ball while the ball is in the goal crease, no goal is awarded and the defending team restarts play with a goal kick.

~ If players from both teams touch the ball while the ball is in the goal crease, the first touch takes precedent and play is dead at that point. In the referee’s judgement the first touch is simultaneous for both teams, play is dead and play is restarted with a dropped ball at center field.

~ If the ball comes to rest in the goal crease, and is not completely across the goal line, then the ball is dead and play his restarted with the defending team taking a goal kick.

Please note it is not a penalty to run through or stand in the goal crease. A player may be in the goal crease when a goal is scored as long as the flight of the ball is not altered in any way.

Goal size

Each goal will consist of a Pugg net which is a portable folding net that creates a goal that is roughly shaped as a semicircle that is approximately 2 yards in diameter. The Pugg nets will be anchored to the ground in a manner deem suitable by the tournament director which restricts movement of the net but also considers safety of the players. The goal will be centered on the end lines, and the goal crease shall be painted so it is centered with the goal.

Method of scoring

A goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line and is contained within the Pugg net frame. Shots which caused the Pug net frame to recoil, but where the ball never completely enters the netting, are not a goal and are treated as a shot off the frame. Goals may be scored directly on kick-offs, goal kicks, and corner kicks. Goals may not be scored directly on kick ins.

Number of players and positions

A maximum of 4 players per team may be on the field at any given time. Each team shall have a roster of not more than 8 players. Team rosters shall be submitted to the Tournament Director prior to playing in the first game of the tournament roster changes, once the final roster has been submitted, are prohibited. No player may be listed on more than one roster in the same age group. There is no goalkeeper position in this tournament. No player on the field may handle the ball while on the field of play.

Goal Tending

Players may not goal tend while on the field of play. Goaltending is defined as playing to defend the goal without regard to opponent or ball position. Goaltending shall be called when a player positions themselves continuously within a five yard perimeter beyond the crease area at all times whether or not an opponent or the ball is within the same area. Players may drop back into normal soccer defensive positions should the opponent have possession of the ball or be starting a play from situations such as kickoffs, goal kicks, kick ins or in-direct kicks. This shall not be considered goaltending as long as these players react to the ball and the opponent positioning and are in the judgment of the referee in a position to be defending the player with the ball directly or another opponent indirectly. While not an absolute standard the following guidelines should help clarify situations which should be considered goaltending.

A player continuously standing at the top of the crease area, regardless of ball position or possession, should be considered goaltending. Failure to follow the play forward in a reasonable manner with offensive possession of the ball shall be considered goaltending. Failure to be positioned to reasonably defend any opponent for an extended period of time shall be considered goaltending. Please note that during play restart situations, such as goal kicks, the defending team may position a player in the defensive half of the field to take away plays to open space. That defender should follow the normal flow of play once play is resumed and not drop back further into a goal tending position. This normally will be allowed we encourage all coaches to seek clarification regarding the referees interpretation of what is considered goaltending prior to the start of the match. The judgment of the referee with respect to goal tending is final and cannot be appealed.

If a team is determined to be creating a goaltending, then:

First offense in a game, play is stopped once possession is obtained by the offending team, and the field player and the coach of the team are warned. Play is restarted at centerfield with an indirect free kick for the opponent.

Second offense in a game, play is stopped once possession is obtained by the offending team, and the field players and the coach of that team are warned for a second time. Play is restarted at centerfield with an indirect free kick for the opponent.

Third offense in a game, play is stopped once possession is obtained by the offending team, and one player must come off the field of play the offending team must play down one player for the remainder of the match. The removed player may return and play in the game at the next substitution opportunity.

Fourth or greater offense in a game, the foul results in an unobstructed free kick at goal for the opponent from the nearest point to the defended goal where the player that was goal tending was positioned.

Please note that all warnings are cumulative for the team need not be the same player that is warned each time on the third offense for a team within the game, they will play a man down for the remainder of the match regardless of which players received specific warnings. Warnings are not carried over between games, and the number of warnings issued for each team shall be considered zero at the start of the next match. Warnings do not impact a player’s ability to play in the current or next match of the tournament.


Each team may substitute an unlimited number of times in each game. Substitutions may be done on the fly with a hand slap of the out coming player with the incoming player at the center field mark on the sideline. Referees will allow a small buffer zone for players coming onto and going off the field. Should a team have more than 4 players on the field, the referee will stop play as soon as advantage is gained by the team with too many players and send off the appropriate number of players. Play will resume with an indirect free kick for the opponent. The coach will receive a warning. For the second offense, the same penalty shall apply. On the 3rd and each subsequent offense, the referee will stop play when advantage is gained an award the opponent an unobstructed shot at goal, (direct free kick).

Length of match

Each match shall consist of two 12 minute halves, with a 2 minute half time break. Time of the match is kept on the field by the referee. Time of each half is absolute and is not extended for advantage situations. In a tournament such as this goals may be scored from any point on the field so possession at any point could be considered as an advantage situation. The nature of the tournament and the number of games requires us to run matches on a strict time schedule. At the conclusion of each 12 minute half, the referee will blow the play dead regardless of the position and possession of the ball. We will allow the referees small discretion to add a minimal amount of extra time to call and say for significant injuries or other extenuating circumstances.

The ball must be completely in the goal at the expiration of the match to count as a goal. Any ball that crosses the goal line after time has expired shall not count as a goal. The only exception to this shall be in the event of a foul resulting in a direct kick, which is an unobstructed shot on goal. If the foul occurs before time expires, the referee shall allow the unobstructed shot to occur and the goal shall be awarded if it completely crosses within the net frame as described previously even if time has expired.


There is no offsides rule in effect throughout this tournament at any age level.


Teams may play the ball backward with the first touch on any kick off. Kick-offs are direct kicks for purposes of a awarding goals. Opponents shall be 5 yards away from the ball.

Goal kicks

Defenders do not need to drop back to the mid field line at any age group on goal kicks. Goal kicks may be taken from any point on the defending goal line or from any point along the defending crease area. Goal Kicks are direct kicks for purposes of awarding goals. Opponent shall be 5 yards away from the ball and outside the crease area on a goal kick.


There are no throw ins for this tournament. If a ball is judged to be out of bounds, then play will be restarted with a kick in from the sideline. Defenders must allow at least 5 yards for the kick in. The ball may not be kicked directly into the goal from a kick in. If the ball is kicked into the goal untouched by either team, play is restarted with a kick in for the opponent from the same spot.


Fouls are as described in FIFA rules, and may result in indirect or direct kicks. Fouls resulting in indirect kicks will result in play restarting from the point of the foul with a indirect free kick. Fouls that result in direct kicks shall be played as an unobstructed shot at goal for the opponent from the point the foul occurred. No player on either team may touch or alter the flight of the ball once it is played. If the shot is made then a goal is awarded. If the shot is missed, or the ball comes to rest anywhere on the field of play, including the goal crease, then no goal is awarded and play is resumed with a goal kick for the defending team. FIFA rules apply to the issuance of yellow cards and red cards. Any player or coach issued a red card is removed from the game and must sit out the next game of the tournament. The Shoe City Classic Tournament Director reserves the right to expel any player, coach or spectator from the tournament for egregious behavior or play that endangers others.

Haverhill Youth Soccer Club supports the Zero Tolerance policy and the associated spirit of this rule to keep the competition fair, safe, and fun for all. Expressly prohibited are all actions as called out in the Zero Tolerance policy. Any player, coach, parent, or fan who is removed from the field of play under the Zero Tolerance provisions shall be ineligible to return to the field for the remainder of that day’s play. The Shoe City Classic Tournament Director reserves the right to expel the offending individuals for the remainder of the tournament. Should the referee need to abandon the match due to refusal to leave the field of play under the Zero Tolerance policy, then the associated team shall forfeit the match for purposes of scoring. If the score at the time of the match is abandoned is less advantageous for the associated team for purposes of tournament seedings, that score may be used as the final match score at the discretion of the tournament director. If the associated team cannot reasonably be determined then the abandon match shall be scored as a 0 0 draw. The referee and the tournament director shall have the authority to invoke the Zero Tolerance policy. There is no appeal of the Zero Tolerance policy.

Slide tackling

Slide tackling is allowed in all age groups as long as it does not result in a foul. Our referees are instructed to permit slide tackles, but slide tackles which are executed in such a manner as to foul a player will result in a direct free kick for the opponent. Slide tackles were significant disregard for risk of injury shall result in a yellow card or red card, as deemed appropriate by the referee of the match.

Teams and Brackets

Teams are bracketed by age and gender. For purposes of this tournament, a team with at least one male player on the roster shall be considered a boys team for tournament play. A team with players from multiple age brackets shall play in the age bracket of its oldest rostered player. We will attempt to have brackets in all age groups, but when numbers are insufficient two age groups may be blended together.

The Shoe City Classic accepts registrations on a first-come first-served basis as space is permitted. Payment is the only way to reserve a spot . Teams will play a minimum of four games. 

Match scoring

Score is kept at the field by the referee, and scores are handed in by the referee to the field marshal for submission to the tournament score at the scoring tent. Coaches should validate the final score with the referees at the field upon the completion of the match. Any questions or concerns are best resolved at that time. In the end as the referee controls the entire match, the final score they sign for an post is considered the official score for the match. Discrepancies in scoring that are raised after the conclusion of the match will be reviewed with the associated referee on a best effort basis. However the official score submitted by the referee shall stand as the final score unless amended by the tournament official for the match.

Tournament scoring

Each team shall be awarded 3 points for a victory, 1 point for a tie and 0 points for a loss.

Tournament tie-breaker

In the event that two or more teams are tied within a division for championship play, the following tie-breakers shall apply to determine the order of the teams.


Tie-Breaker Criteria

Two Teams Tied

Three or More teams Tied



This criteria is applied if the two teams that tied played each other. if yes, the winning team is the higher seed. If no, or the teams tied, proceed to next tie-breaker.

This criteria is not applied to more than two teams, and is not applicable even if teams played each other. proceed to next tie-breaker. No team is eliminated at this step.


Goal Differential

For each game, goals scored against are subtracted from goals scored for, up to a game maximum differential of 3 goals (win) or -3 goals (loss). The team with the greater cumulative differential is the higher seed. If the goal differential is tied, then proceed to next tie-breaker.

For each game, goals scored against are subtracted from goals scored for, up to a game maximum differential of 3 goals (win) or -3 goals (loss). The team with the greater cumulative differential is the higher seed. the second highest cumulative differential is next and so forth. Teams no longer “tied” finish in the position based upon this tie-breaker. If two or more teams have a goal differential that is tied, then proceed to next tie-breaker for those relative seedings.


Fewest Goals Allowed

For each game, goals scored against are added across all games played. The team with the fewest cumulative goals allowed is the higher seed. If the fewest goals allowed is tied, then proceed to next tie-breaker.

For each game, goals scored against are added across all games played. The team with the fewest cumulative goals allowed is the higher seed, the second fewest goals allowed is next, and so forth. Teams no longer “tied” finish in the position based upon this tie-breaker. If tow or more teams have a cumulative goals allowed that is tied, then proceed to next tie-breaker.


Coin Flip

The positions will be determined by a coin flip by the Tournament Director.

If more than two teams remain tied, the positions will be determined by drawing positions from a hat.


There is no overtime in any game other than the championship game. For championship games, two 5 minute sudden death overtime periods are played. First goal scored wins the match and considered champion. There is a two minute break between the end of the game and the first overtime period, and between the first and second overtime periods. If neither team scores a goal in overtime, then the game will be decided based upon penalty kicks. Each team will choose three shooters from among the team players. The players shall take alternate turns with unobstructed shots at the goal from the center field mark. After each team has shot three times, the team with the greater number of goals shall be the winner. If the game is still tied, each team will alternate shots until one team scores and the other team does not. Each roster player must shoot once before anybody can shoot a second time.


In the event a team fails to arrive at the appropriate field of play for the start of a match, the referee shall declare a forfeit. The Tournament Director and associated field marshals will make reasonable efforts to locate teams and assist them in arriving at the proper fields on time. However, due to the tight time schedule for the tournament, referees shall not delay the start of the match such that it will cause the overall timing of the tournament to be pushed back. Forfeits will be treated as 3-0 match loss for purposes of tournament scoring and tie breakers. Give both opponents forfeit, both shall have a 3-0 loss recorded for the tournament match.

Protest and appeals

Head coaches, as determined by the team roster, may file a protest or appeal with the Tournament Director by going to the scoring tent and notifying a tournament official. For a protest to be made during a game being played, the referee shall notify the appropriate field marshal for assistance and clarification of rules. Protest of referees judgment calls are not accepted judgment calls include, whether a given play did or should have been resulted in a foul, time of match and weather time had expired prior to a goal. Whether the ball flight was altered in the goal crease. Whether a certain team or player was or was not goaltending. General interpretation of the rules. Infractions warning the result of a yellow or red card. Invocation of the Zero Tolerance policy. Protest regarding incorrect application of the rules, excluding judgment decisions will be heard by the tournament director. To make such a protest, you must have a copy of the tournament rules and make specific note of which aspect of the tournament rules was not correctly applied.

Protest must be made: During bracket play, within 1 hour of completion of the game. For all championship games, immediately following the game and prior to presentation of awards.

The Tournament Director will hear the protest, and make a final determination whether to accept the protest or disallow it. Decisions of the tournament director are final and cannot be appealed higher. Most protest involved a dispute of the final score of a given match. For these reasons, we require all coaches to validate the final score when the referee and opposing coach at the field to avoid any issue. In the case of a question on the score, the Tournament Director will attempt to work with the referee of the game to revalidate the score submitted. However, the referee needs to resubmit a revised score or stand by the score submitted. The Tournament Director cannot change submitted scores without the concurrence of both coaches.

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