Rules & Regulations

2017 Competition Rules & Regulations

SINGLE TABLE:

Teams will be aligned into a single table:

Boston Breakers
Chicago Red Stars
Houston Dash
FC Kansas City
North Carolina Courage
Orlando Pride
Portland Thorns FC
Seattle Reign FC
Sky Blue FC
Washington Spirit

REGULAR SEASON:
Each of the ten (10) NWSL clubs will play 24 games, 12 at home and 12 away.

POINT SYSTEM:
Teams will receive three points for a win, one point for a tie and zero points for a loss.

REFEREES:
All referees in NWSL are either USSF (United States Soccer Federation) or CSA (Canadian Soccer Association) National Referees. Referees for all NWSL games will be trained, assigned and evaluated by PRO (Professional Referee Organization).

GAME CLOCK:
The official game time for all National Women’s Soccer League games will be managed on the field by the referee. If necessary, the referee may also allot extra time (a.k.a. “stoppage time”) at the end of each period (first half, second half, and if applicable, first overtime period and second overtime period during playoff matches) to allow for injuries, time-wasting or other disturbances.

The stadium clock will display the time from 0:00 to 45:00 and from 45:00 to 90:00. For statistical purposes, the minutes for goals, substitutions, yellow cards, etc., will be listed from the first minute until the 90th minute. A goal scored at 15 minutes 10 seconds will be listed as having been scored in the 16th minute. Events occurring during stoppage time will follow the international norm by being demarcated with a “+” sign and the extra minutes. For example, a goal scored three minutes into first half stoppage time will be officially identified as happening at “48+”.

GAME DAY ROSTERS:
Each team can nominate 18 players for a game day roster. Teams are allowed three substitutions per game.

CAUTIONS AND SUSPENSIONS:
A Player will be suspended for one game upon receiving her fifth yellow card, regardless of the nature of the infraction which resulted in her being awarded the yellow card. A second suspension of one game would result after the awarding of an additional three cards as would a third suspension after the awarding of card number eleven.

LIGHTNING AND SEVERE WEATHER:

Given the likelihood of lightning during the League season, and the potential for personal injury and structural damages lightning can cause, each Home Team will have a detailed weather delay plan that includes the following:

1) Specific persons in charge of decision-making (one management level person from the stadium, one person from the Home Team, one person from law enforcement)

2) Direct contact with the U.S. Weather Bureau and/or Doppler radar

3) Formation of a weather delay committee with pre-designated meeting location (and back-up location) that includes the Referee, Team representatives and TV producer

4) Immediate and consistent contact with the League’s Game Notice Designee

5) Updates to spectators and media via PA announcement (and video if available)

6) “Standing Orders” (procedures) published and posted to accomplish the above In the event it is deemed safe to resume play, refer to “Team Warm-Up Period Following Game Delay” for League guidelines.

HYDRATION BREAKS:

The match referee reserves the right to implement hydration breaks during matches to hydrate during extremely hot or humid weather conditions. The League will provide each team with a wet bulb globe thermometer, which must be used to determine whether hydration breaks are to be implemented. The following process shall be used to determine whether hydration breaks should be implemented by the match referee:

Pre-Game and Halftime Decision Making Process

The wet bulb globe temperature reading will be required for every League match.

The League shall mandate the use of hydration breaks if the wet bulb globe temperature measures 82 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. The Referee can, at any time, implement a discretionary hydration break in cases in which player safety is determined to be at risk.

The Fourth Official will be responsible for reading the WBGT at the kickoff spot at the conclusion of the pre-match warmup and after the whistle blows for the end of the first half.

The option to employ a hydration break should be confirmed by the Referee to a member of each Club’s technical staff after each WBGT reading.

Any onsite questions should be directed to the game day officials.

Implementation and control of the breaks will be managed solely by the Referee.

Implementation

Two (2) separate WBGT readings will take place during the match:

  • The first reading will take place immediately after the conclusion of pre-match warmups have concluded.
    • If the WBGT measurement meets or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit, there will be a mandatory hydration break near the 30th and 75th minutes respectively.
    • If the WBGT measurement does not meet 82 degrees Fahrenheit, there will not be a mandatory hydration break at the 30th minute.
  • The second reading will take place immediately after the Referee signals the end of the first half.
    • If the WBGT measurement meets or exceeds 82 degrees Fahrenheit, there will be a mandatory hydration break near the 75th minute.
  • Each break will last up to three (3) minutes in length.
  • If the WBGT drops by at least ten (10) degrees (72 degrees Fahrenheit or below) prior to the 30th or 75th minute, the Referee will have the ability to nullify the mandatory hydration break.
      • The Fourth Official will be responsible for the reading of the temperature near the 30th and 75th minute respectively in cases where the WBGT may drop by at least ten (10) degrees.
  • Additionally, the Referee will still be able to impose a “discretionary” hydration break(s) if they believe there is a risk to player safety even if the WBGT reading does not reach 82 degrees Fahrenheit.

The ball must be out of play for the hydration break to commence. The Referee will signal for the start of the break and inform both Clubs and all match Officials. The clock will continue to run and all time allotted for the break will be added to stoppage time. Both Clubs will go to their respective Club bench areas.

      • Players must remain on the field of play.
      • Coaches cannot leave their respective technical areas.
      • Bench personnel cannot enter the field of play (excluding medical personnel). Entering the field of play during a hydration break is subject to sanctions.

EXTREME HEAT:

Due to the environmental conditions (high temperatures, humidity, and solar radiation, synthetic surface) during the summer months in the United States, and the need to protect our players from serious heat-related illnesses, National Women’s Soccer League has instituted the following policy and procedures for delaying a match should the Wet Bulb Globe Temperature (WBGT) reading be at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

All current procedures for determining the implementation of hydration break(s) will not change. The threshold for mandatory hydration breaks still occurs at 82 degrees Fahrenheit on the WBGT and will take place at approximately the 30th and 75th minute of the match.

In the event the anticipated or current high air temperature for the day in Club market is 90 degrees Fahrenheit on the WBGT or higher, the following procedure will be followed:

Extreme Heat – Reporting

If, in conjunction with the air temperature being at or above 90 degrees Fahrenheit, the National Weather Service issued an Extreme Heat Warning or Watch or a Heat Advisory, all WBGT readings, even if they are below the threshold, must be reported into the League office by the home club’s operations staff. The League will notify key contacts of WBGT readings.

 

Extreme Heat – Match Delay Procedures

The Referee will add a third WBGT measurement, if the anticipated high air temperature of the day is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or above. The first WBGT measurement will occur approximately 60 minutes prior to the start of the match at the kickoff spot.

      • If the WBGT temperature reads at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the home club’s operations staff is required to alert the League.
        • The League will disseminate the information to all appropriate parties.
        • The Fourth Official will take a second WBGT measurement 45 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the match (approximately right before player warm-ups).
          • If the WBGT temperature reads below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, warm-ups may begin.
          • If the WBGT temperature reads at or above 95 degrees Fahrenheit, the home club operations staff will alert the League and the match will officially go into a delay.

During the Delay

      • Similar to a severe weather delay, the match will not start or resume until it is safe to do so as outlined by the procedures below.
      • The Fourth Official will take another WBGT measurement 15 minutes prior to the scheduled start of the match. Follow the same procedure as above, should the WBGT reading meet or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
      • If the WBGT temperature reads below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, warm-ups may begin.
      • Following the reading 15 minutes prior to the start of the match, should the delay continue, a WBGT measurement will be taken every 30 minutes at the kickoff spot, until it is deemed safe to play, below 95 degrees Fahrenheit, or until such time has passed that the League decides to postpone the match.
        • In the event a WBGT measurement is below the 95 degrees Fahrenheit threshold by 1 degree (i.e., 94 degrees Fahrenheit), it will be the Fourth Official in conjunction with the home club’s Team Physician with feedback from visiting team medical personnel, operations, officials and both technical staffs, to make the ultimate decision if and when play is allowed to resume.
  • The Referees will take the second WBGT reading immediately after the conclusion of pre-match warmups. Follow the same procedures as above should the WBGT reading meet or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • The referees will take the third WBGT reading immediately following the referee’s whistle to end the 1st half of play. Again, follow the same procedures as above should the WBGT measurement meet or exceed 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

Definitions

Wet Bulb Globe Temperature: A measure of heat stress in direct sunlight which takes into account air temperature, humidity, wind speed, sun angle, and cloud cover (solar radiation). This measurement differs from the Heat Index, which is an adjusted air temperature taking into account air temperature and humidity – i.e, what it “feels” like.

National Weather Service: An Agency of the United States government that is tasked with providing weather forecasts, warnings of hazardous weather, and other weather-related products to organizations and the public, for the purposes of protection, safety, and general information.

Excessive Heat Warning: An Excessive Heat Warning is a warning issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions when the maximum heat index is expected to be 105°F or higher for at least 2 days and the night time air temperature will not drop below 75° F. These criteria vary across North America.

Excessive Heat Watch: An Excessive Heat Watch is issued when conditions are favorable for an excessive heat event in the next 24-72 hours. A watch is used when the risk of a heat wave has increased; but, its occurrence and timing are still uncertain.

Heat Advisory: A Heat Advisory is issued within 12 hours of the onset of extremely dangerous heat conditions. The advisory is issued when the maximum heat index temperature is expected to be 100°F or higher for at least 2 days and the night time air temperatures will not drop below 75° F (37.8° C). These criteria vary across North America.

 
 

NWSL Playoffs:
Single-Elimination Format

WHO QUALIFIES:
The top four clubs in points from the League standings at the end of the regular season, qualify for the NWSL Playoffs.

The two Semifinals will be decided by a single knockout game, the winner of which will advance to the Championship Game.

The NWSL Championship will be a single championship match hosted at a pre-determined site.

If the score is tied after 90 minutes of play in any playoff game, two 15-minute extra time periods will be played in their entirety, followed by kicks from the penalty mark, if necessary.

Team-Standings Tie-Breaking Procedures

The team awarded the highest position in the NWSL standings will be the team with the greatest number of points (three points for a win, one point for a tie, zero points for a loss). In the event that two teams finish the regular season with an equal number of points, the following system will be used to break the tie:

When two or more teams are tied in the standings on points (3 points for a win, 1 point for a draw, 0 points for a loss), the following tiebreakers will be used in the sequence below, until one team ranks ahead of the other(s):

1) The highest position shall be awarded to the team with the better win/loss record in current Regular Season games against all other teams equal in points. (head-to-head competition)

2) If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team with the greater goal difference against all other teams during the Regular Season. (goal differential)

3) If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position shall be awarded to the team scoring the greatest number of total goals against all other teams during the Regular Season. (total goals)

4) If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played on the road by each team against all other teams during the Regular Season. (road 1-3)

5) If the teams are still equal in the standings, the procedures described in this section shall be applied only to games played at home by each team against all other teams during the regular season. (home 1-3)

If the teams are still equal in the standings, the highest position in the standings shall be determined by the toss of a coin.

The first tiebreaker in a three-way tie is also head-to-head, but it is determined via points-per-game versus the other two teams. If two teams are tied in points-per-game head-to-head, the next tie breaker is goal difference.

NOTE: If two clubs remain tied after another club with the same number of points advances during any step, the tie breaker reverts to step 1 of the two-club format.

2017 Competition Calendar
Thursday, March 09, 2017Primary Registration/Transfer Window opens
Monday, March 13, 2017Preseason starts
Monday, April 10, 201718-20 Player Rosters Due
Saturday, April 15, 2017Regular Season / Discovery Process begins
Wednesday, May 31, 2017Primary Registration/Transfer Window closes
Monday, June 05, 2017Secondary Registration/Transfer Window opens
Friday, July 05, 2017Secondary Registration/Transfer Window closes
Monday, August 28, 2017Last day to Waive Players prior to Roster Freeze
2017 Discovery Process Closes
Tuesday, August 29, 2017Roster Freeze Date
2017 Semi-Guaranteed contracts become guaranteed
Wednesday, August 30, 20172018 Re-signings and Option Extensions Open
Saturday, September 30, 2017Regular Season ends
TBDNWSL Semifinals
TBDNWSL Championship
Tuesday, October 17, 2017Off-season Discovery Process Opens
Wednesday, October 18, 2017Deadline for Teams to exercise 2018 options
Monday, October 23, 2017End of Season Process Commences
Tuesday, October 24, 2017End of Season Process Concludes
NOTE: For the purposes of NWSL deadlines, the time of the day at which the deadline expires shall be 5 p.m. ET for deadlines falling on a business day and 11:59 p.m. ET for a deadline falling on a weekend or public holiday.