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Laws of the Game



The universality of the Laws of the Game means that the game is essentially the same in every part of the world and at every level. As well as creating a ‘fair’ and safe environment in which the game is played, the Laws should also promote participation and enjoyment.

Historically, The ISAB has allowed national Subbuteo associations (SAs) some flexibility to modify the ‘organisational’ Laws for specific categories of Subbuteo. However, The ISAB strongly believes that national SAs should now be given more options to modify aspects of the way Subbuteo is organised if it will benefit Subbuteo in their own country.

How the game is played and refereed should be the same on every Subbuteo field in the world from the FISA World Cup™ final to the smallest village. However, the needs of a country’s domestic Subbuteo should determine how long the game lasts, how many people can take part and how some unfair behaviour is punished.

Consequently, the 1st AGM of The ISAB held in Larisa August 2017 unanimously agreed that national SAs (and confederations and FISA) now have the option to modify all or some of the following organisational areas of the Laws of the Game for Subbuteo for which they are responsible:

For youth, veterans, disability and grassroots Subbuteo:

  • size of the field of play

  • size, weight and material of the ball

  • width between the goalposts and height of the crossbar from the ground

  • duration of the two (equal) halves of the game (and two equal halves of extra time)

  • the use of return substitutes

  • the use of temporary dismissals (sin bins) for some/all cautions (YCs)

For any level except competitions involving the 1st team of clubs in the top division or ‘A’ international teams:

  • the number of substitutions each team is permitted to use up to a maximum of five, except in youth Subbuteo where the maximum will be determined by the national association, confederation or FISA

In addition, to allow national SAs further flexibility to benefit and develop their domestic Subbuteo, The ISAB AGM approved the following changes relating to ‘categories’ of Subbuteo:

  • women’s Subbuteo is no longer a separate category and now has the same status as men’s Subbuteo

  • the age limits for youth and veterans have been removed – national SAs, confederations and FISA have the flexibility to decide the age restrictions for these categories

  • each national SA will determine which competitions at the lowest levels of Subbuteo are designated as ‘grassroots’ Subbuteo

Permission for other modifications

National SAs have the option to approve different modifications for different competitions - there is no requirement to apply them universally or to apply them all. However, no other modifications are allowed without the permission of The ISAB.

National SAs are asked to inform The ISAB of their use of these modifications, and at which levels, as this information, and especially the reason(s) why the modifications are being used, may identify development ideas/strategies which The ISAB can share to assist the development of Subbuteo in other national SAs.

The ISAB would also be very interested to hear about other potential modifications to the Laws of the Game which could increase participation, make Subbuteo more attractive and promote its worldwide development.