Equal Strength Rule
The WCSSF uses “Playing Equal Strength” rule for all games during the regular season. (During tournament play, the equal strength guideline does not apply as of January 2017.) This simply means that you match the number of players on the field.
For instance, if the opposing 15U team has only 10 of the 11 players needed for a game, your team would need to play down to only 10 players. Another scenario: The opposing 15U team has just 11 players for the game. During the game, a player from the opposing team gets injured or leaves the game for any reason, leaving the other team with only 10 players able to play. Your team would need to play down to the equal number of players.
There are a couple of exceptions to this rule.
- Team A has just the full number of players, but during the game one of their players receives a red card and is “sent off”/ejected from the game. Team A must play down a player for the rest of the game, but Team B does not need to play down a player, but can continue to play with the number of players on the field as they started with.
- If Team A (a 15U team) has 11 players, but wants to play with 10 players to allow for one substitute, Team B does NOT have to play down to 10. Team B can choose to continue to play with 11 players.
If a team shows up with less than a full team, it is not appropriate for one team to “give” players to the other team in order to even out the numbers on the teams. However, if the team with less than a full team, decided not to play and take the forfeit, the teams can decide to play a friendly game since the referees are already there, and split the teams evenly number wise. The game would be recorded, though, as a forfeit, and coaches should note what happened in the game report.
*NOTE: Coaches, every season on a game report a coach will write something like, “We had our full team, the other team only had 9 players. It wasn’t fair to our players…” Please remember that these rules are intended to make the situation as fair as possible for the players and both teams. If your team was able to play with a full team and the other team only had 9 players, even though your players were on the field, how much would they really play?