WIAA Announces Soccer Safety Guidelines




Pregame Conference (5-2-2d)

  • Limit attendees to head referee or center referee, the head coach from each team, and a single captain from each team.
  • Move the location of the pregame conference to the center of the field. All individuals maintain a social distance of 6 feet.
  • Masks must be worn if unable to socially distance.
  • Suspend handshakes prior to and following the Pregame Conference.

Ball Holders (6-1)

  • Follow social distancing guidelines.

Team Benches (1-5-1)

  • Encourage bench personnel to observe social distancing guidelines.
  • Encourage all athletes and sideline personnel to wear masks.

Substitution Procedures (3-4)

  • Maintain social distancing between the substitute, officials and/or teammate(s) by encouraging substitutions to occur closer to the center line.

Officials Table (6-2; 6-3)

  • Limit to essential personnel which includes home team scorer and timer, with recommended social distance guidelines.
  • Encourage all individuals involved to wear masks.
  • Visiting team personnel (scorer, statisticians, etc.) are not deemed essential personnel and will need to find an alternative location.

Equipment and Accessories (4-1)

  • Cloth face coverings and neck gaiters/buffs are permissible for athletes to wear during play and encouraged for all athletes and sideline personnel.
  • Gloves are permissible.

Legal Uniform (4-2)

  • Long sleeves are permissible. (4-1-1)
  • Long pants are permissible. (4-1-1)
  • Under garments are permissible but must be of a similar length for the individual and a solid like color for team. (4-1-1d)



  • Masks must be worn according to the governor’s mandate upon arrival to the venue and until the official warm-ups have started or a player is competing.
  • Masks must be appropriately worn at all times, particularly when moving or unable to socially distance.

o Coaches and officials must wear masks indoors and outdoors.

o Spectators must wear masks indoors and outdoors.

o Athletes may use “buffs” or neck gaiters. Competitors may find that it is easier for them to mask-up when they feel they need to, and pull it back down without it dropping on the ground.

Set-up and Breakdown Equipment

  • Any equipment used for competition should be disinfected prior to and immediately following the game. Only one individual should handle the equipment on any given day (i.e. resistance bands, mats, cones/flags, etc.).


  • Sanitized before and after each game.
  • Switching the ball at intervals during play, having multiple available on the sideline and sanitizing the ball that is removed from play, before entering it back into the game.
  • If ball shaggers are used, they could disinfect the balls between use, and should wear a mask and gloves.

Other Equipment

  • Towels – Athletes and officials should bring their own towels, if needed.
  • Foam Rollers, Resistance Bands, etc. – Should not be shared among athletes.

Other Hygiene Considerations

  • Any equipment that is shared should be cleaned and disinfected prior to and immediately following each use and each meet. Be responsible for your own supplies.
  • Athletes, coaches, and officials are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and/or sanitizing wipes

and use frequently.

  • Emphasize to avoid touching the face throughout practice and competition.
  • Spitting/Nose Clearing/Coughing – All athletes and coaches are prohibited from spitting/nose clearing and must cover coughs.
  • Athletes, coaches and staff should avoid touching doors, gates, fences, benches or other schools’ equipment.

General Reminders for Athletes

  • Personal Items – It is recommended that each athlete bring their own gym bag for personal items. Gym bags should be placed in a predetermined area 6 feet apart for the duration of the event. No shared clothing/shoes.
  • Athletes are encouraged to provide their own hand sanitizer (at least 60% alcohol) and use frequently.
  • Water bottle – All athletes shall bring their own water bottle. Water bottles must not be shared.
  • Tell coaches immediately when you are not feeling well.


WIAA Event Accountability

  • A tracing sheet and verification form shall be kept of all individuals traveling with the team to the contest verifying that the traveling party has been prescreened that day, before departure.
  • When departing for the contest, coaches take their tracing sheet and verification form, signed by the coach athletic director, acknowledging the tracing sheet’s accuracy. If a coach cannot, or does not produce the tracing sheet when verification is requested, it shall be reported to the WIAA office by the opposing coach.

Competition Structure

  • Encourage minimal travel, single opponents or tournaments with a maximum of 4 teams, and single day competitions.
  • Teams from the same school (varsity and JV) should remain on the same sideline.

Social Distancing

  • Warm-ups/Stretching – Maintain social distancing between players.
  • Congregating of Athletes and/or Coaches – Discourage congregating upon arrival to the field, prior to game warm-ups, and immediately following the game.
  • Huddles – Social distancing to be maintained as much as possible when the coach is communicating with the entire team or in smaller groups. All players and coaches should be encouraged to mask during huddles, especially non-active players.
  • Elimination of Team Handshakes – Teams may find other respectful ways to acknowledge each other before or after a competition, while maintaining social distancing.
  • National Anthem – Align team members in a manner that allows them to maintain social distancing guidelines.
  • Interaction with Officials – Coaches and officials should maintain social distancing when interacting
  • Coin Toss – Eliminate and determine protocol (i.e., teams will defend the end of the field where their team bench is located for the first half. Home team will kick off in the first half, visiting team will kick off in the second half.)

○ Reduce the number of individuals at the coin toss.

  • Starting line-ups/Introductions – Introduce from positions, after players have taken the field, and other athletes are socially distanced in the team box.
  • Playing Field and Sideline area

○ Allow only essential personnel on the playing field. These are defined as athletes, coaches, medical personnel/trainers, and officials. Encourage facial coverings.

○ All others (i.e. managers, photographers, media, etc.) are considered non-essential personnel and are not to be on the field of play. Adhere to social distancing guidelines and encourage facial coverings.

  • Team Box – Designate “places”, within the team box, for members of the team to be when they are not on the field. Consider paint and/or tape to help athletes recognize social distancing.
  • Substitutions – Designate a safe area for players entering the game. Minimize contact with the table and with each other.
  • Departing the Field of Play (post game) – The visiting team should depart the field immediately after the completion of the game, followed by the home team. Every effort should be made to ensure that a log-jam does not occur upon departure of the two teams.


  • Follow county guidelines on limiting spectators.
  • Face covering requirements – Event personnel, media, and spectators must wear masks when moving or unable to socially distance.

○ Consider having masks available to purchase or to provide for those who may have forgotten to bring one.

  • Ticket sales – If unable to eliminate on-site sales, consider steps to establish social distancing and provide a sanitization station.
  • Pedestrian flow – Create protocols and signage to address ingress and egress areas and high traffic areas to avoid congestion. Consider using stanchions, tape or paint as a guide, communicate in advance and create signage.
  • Seating – Establish a procedure for all indoor and outdoor venues that allows for social distancing guidelines. The number of spectators allowed must be in accordance with state/local regulations for gathering sizes.


Officials are not responsible for monitoring activities on the sidelines, such as social distancing, hand washing, symptoms of illnesses and other such issues. This monitoring remains with the coaching staff and school personnel.

  • By state association adoption, long-sleeved shirt/jackets are permissible. (Rule 5-1-3)
  • No sharing of game shirts or AR flags for competition.
  • Encourage face covering/mask use for AR’s who may be near to team benches and/or fans. Consider mask use for all officials during games.
  • Electronic whistles are permissible. Bring an extra battery. Choose a whistle whose tone will carry outside.

o Fox 40 Mini

o Fox 40 Unisex Electronic – 3 tone

o Ergo-Guard (3 tone) –orange

o Windsor (3 tone) – grey

o Consider other similar items in marketplace

  • Bring your own water bottle(s).
  • Bring your own supplies (gear, pencil, headset, etc.).
  • Coin Toss – check with game administration regarding their decision on the coin toss protocol.
  • Bring personal hand sanitizer. Wash hands frequently. Gloves are permissible.
  • Eliminate hand shake and follow social distancing guidelines.


  • Coaches are strongly encouraged to wear masks at all times, especially when unable to maintain social distancing.
  • Communicate your guidelines in a clear manner to students and parents. Athlete safety is paramount
  • Communicate expectations regarding minimizing the spread of the virus and the habits that will contribute.
  • Remind players to use hand sanitizer when prior to going on the competition field and after returning to the sideline.
  • Follow the CDC guidelines for cleaning and disinfecting the competition venue.

WIAA Spring Sports Safety Recommendations

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David Keech
Author: David Keech

David Keech is a math teacher in Wisconsin Rapids and public address announcer for Abbotsord High School. He officiates basketball, baseball, and softball in central Wisconsin. He has reported on amateur sports since 2011, known as 'KeechDaVoice.' David can be reached at [email protected]