Die Spielregeln, Regelgeschichte

Law 6: The other match officials

This article has been updated to comply with the Laws of the Game 2023/24. It lists all the rule changes in the Laws of the Game and other association football codices before 1886 I know of. More on trials or withdrawn and defeated football rule proposals discussed at the Annual General Meeting of The IFAB on request (Contact).

In this article the development of the other match officials is described. This includes the assistant referees (former: linesmen), the fourth official, the additional assistant referees, the reserve assistant referee and the assistant video assistant referee.

Year (Source) new or changed laws (proposing club/association, if known)
1891 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Introduction of assistant referees. Duty: to decide when the ball is out of play, and which side has the throw-in, to decide which side is entitled to the corner kick or the goalkick. In addition, the referee has the duty, to report every undue interference by an assistant referee to the National Association. (FA).
1897 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Additional duty: to assist in carrying out the game according to the Laws.
1902 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Change: In case of undue interference by an assistant referee, the referee has the power to order him off and substitute him (FA).
1938 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Supplement that the assistant referees receive their flags from those who own the field of play (FAW).
1961 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Added task: They also indicate when the ball is out of play (FIFA).
1982 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Additional duty: to indicate when a substitution is desired. The notice that the referee may dispense the assistant referees from their duties in the event of undue interference shall be deleted (SFA).
1991 (IFAB) Fourth Official: Introduction of the Fourth Official. Duty: Support referees and assistant referees (FIFA).
1996 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Additional duties: to indicated when a player shall be penalised for being in an offside position and when misconduct or other incident has occurred outwit the vision of the referee (IFAB).
1997 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Reintroduction of the notice that the referee may relieve the assistant referees of their duties in the event of undue interference shall be deleted (as in 1902-1982).
2000 (IFAB) Assistant referees: Additional authority: Assistant referees indicate whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball is kicked and if the ball has crossed the goal line and assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game, i.e. control the 9.15 m distance (FIFA).
2004 (DFB) Fourth Official: Specification of duties; they are listed in the appendix of the Laws of the Game.
2016 (IFAB) Assistant match officials in general: Summary of the same duties of assistant referees (except the reserve assistant referee):
– assist the referee with offences when they have a clearer view than the referee
– must submit a report to the appropriate authorities on any serious misconduct or other incident that occurred out of the view of the referee and the other match officials
– advise the referee and other match officials of any report been made
– assist the referee with inspecting the field of play, the balls and players‘ equipment (including if problems have been resolved) and maintaining records of time, goals, misconduct, etc.
In addition, it applies to them all that the referee can replace them in the event of undue interference or improper conduct. Competition rules must state clearly who replaces a match official who is unable to start or continue any associated changes.
Fourth Official was so far part of the decisions – now he is part of the Laws.
Additional assistant referees: Introduction of the additional assistant referees and clarification of their tasks.
Reserve assistant referee: Introduction of the reserve assistant referee and clarification of his task.
2018 (IFAB) Assistant match official in general: Adding VAR and AVAR and distinguishing the previous assistant referees as on-field match officials and VAR and AVAR as video match officials.
Video match officials: Introduction of the video match officials and clarification of their tasks.
2021 (IFAB) Video Match Officials (VMOs) must assist the referee not only in accordance with the VAR protocol, but also the Laws of the Game.
2023 (IFAB) Clarification: There can be a maximum of one fourth official, one reserve assistant referee and one VAR and they assist the referee. A reserve assistant referee can replace not only an assistant referee or a fourth official but also an additional assistant referee and assist the referee in the same way as the other match officials on the pitch.