The 17 Football Rules Explained

Are you aware of the 17 soccer rules that govern 90 minutes of the most favorite game in the world? You are in the right place.

This article has every detail you want to know about the 17 soccer rules. Read through till the end to become football literate and enjoy watching soccer matches. You can read through the laws in two options.

You may read through the laws one by one after the below list. You may also click on any link below to jump to the specific law. Let’s Get into details below:

The 17 Soccer Rules Explained in Details

Law 1: The Field of Play

A football field must be rectangular in shape and its ground covered by natural grass or artificial turf that is green in color.

Lengths (longer sides) of the field are the touchlines while the widths (shorter sides) are the goal lines.

Goals are placed at the center of the goal lines. A continuous line at the center of the field divides the pitch into two equal halves. The mid-point of this line forms the center of the field surrounded by a small circle.

Law 2: The Ball

Ever wondered how much the ball weigh or measure? As per soccer rules, a soccer ball should be spherical in shape with a circumference of between 27 mm and 28 mm and made of leather or any other medium that is almost equivalent to leather.

The ball must weigh at least 410 g and a maximum weight of 450 g. However, such is only applicable to FIFA-restricted matches.

A smaller ball is usually used in development leagues for youth or children. Should the ball burst, the referee should stop and re-start the match after the field assistants provide a new ball.

Law 3: Number of Players

A soccer team is consists of 11 players. Among the soccer rules, this is the soccer rule that nearly every football fan knows. However, many don’t know what is the minimum number of players required for a game to start.

For FIFA-sanctioned matches, either of the team must line-up at least 7 players, or else the fixture is canceled. If 4 players of a team are sent-off, the match is abandoned and the opponent team awarded 3 points.

The same situation may occur as a result of a combination of injuries and red-cards when a team had exhausted all 3 substitutes allowed. However, fewer players may be allowed in the case of youth teams for the sake of skill development.

Law 4: Player’s Equipment

The official player’s equipment includes a jersey, socks, cleats, shin guard, and shorts and gloves for the goalkeeper. However, you may find players with hand gloves especially in winter or badges around the head or hands.

Law 5: The Centre Referee

The center referee is the official who enforces all these rules we are covering here. He or she makes sure that players, match officials, the coaches, and the fans are orderly in a football match.

Referee Tools: The whistle, yellow card, red card, the foam spray, notebook, and recently introduced Video Assistant Referee (VAR) are the tools that referees use to enforce soccer laws.

We are human, right and human is to error! So does the referee. Therefore, the referee might not be able to see the entire field thus may fail to see some fouls or misconducts by players

The referee may rely on the VAR or the assistant referees to identify fouls and misconduct before making a critical decision like a penalty or flashing a card to send-off or penalize players.

Law 6: The Assistant Referees

Assistant referees two officials on either side of the touchlines commonly that assist the center referee.

The assistants signal the referee when the ball goes beyond the touchlines, a player is fouled, or in case, a player is in an offside position. They do so by raising a flag pointing to the direction of the fouled team.

Law 7: Match Duration

A match should last for 90 minutes with two halves of 45 minutes each with a 15-minute break between the halves.

However, the referee may add a few minutes after each half to compensate for lost time. Such time is referred to as extra time.

The duration of extra time depends on the estimation of how much time has been lost during a substitution or if there was an injury during the match. The referee blowing the whistle twice signifies the end of each half.

Law 8: Start and Restart of the Play

Have you ever wondered why the center and line referees and the team captains toss a coin at the field center? Referees toss a coin to determine which team will make the first kick to start the game.

Which teams win a coin toss? 

The team that wins the toss has the liberty to choose whether to start the ball or which goal to start attacking. The losing team has no choice rather than the winning team has not chosen. Match kick-off happens at the center point.

Players from either team should be in their own half at kick-off. If not, the referee has to order the players to retreat to their half. Restarting the game occurs when a team scores a goal. After a goal, either the referee or a player can take the ball to the center.

The team that has conceded the goal restarts the play. A double whistle blow by the referee signifies the restart of the game.

Law 9: Ball in and Out of Play

This occurs in the case of the ball getting out of play. A ball is out of play when it crosses either the touchlines or the goal line. In the case of the touchline, the offended team throws-in the ball.

Law 10: Method of Scoring

 Players can score by either kicking or heading the ball. A goal is legit only when the whole ball has crossed the goal line within the goal frame.

Controversy over an actual goal is emotive in football. Teams have won matches others have lost crucial points. To avert controversy, FIFA introduced Video Assistant Referee (VAR) in 2018. Through VAR, a referee can view a replay in order to ascertain the actual goal.

Law 11: Offside Position

 An attacking player is in an offside position if he or she receives, the ball while on the opponent’s half, and not in level or behind the last two defenders.

This rule considers the goalkeeper as one of the defenders. Referees most rely on the assistant referees to identify offside players. The referee penalizes an offside position by awarding the fouled team an indirect free kick.

Law 12: Football Fouls and Misconducts

This is the law that referees use to enforce other soccer rules. Ever wondered what is the difference between soccer fouls and misconducts? See below.

Football Fouls. In soccer, a foul is a minor offence that includes preventing the keeper from releasing the ball, dangerous play holding, charging, and obstructing the opponent player.

For a foul to be justified, the offence must; be committed by a player, occur on the field of play, and occur while the ball is in play. The referee penalizes a foul by awarding a direct or indirect free kick to the offended team.

Football Misconducts. Soccer misconducts are major offences that warrant warning or dismissal. Misconducts may occur inside or outside the field of play anytime including before, halftime, and after the match unlike a foul.

A referee issues a warning by flashing a yellow card and dismissal by flashing a red card. Common misconducts include jumping at a player with both legs, kicking, tripping, spitting, hitting, pushing, charging from behind, and roughing opponent players.

Law 13: Direct and Indirect Free Kicks

For a direct free kick, the fouled team is allowed to freely kick the ball at the exact spot where the foul was committed.

The offensive team must be at least 9.1 m away from the kicking spot. A player can directly score from a free-kick – without the ball necessarily hitting any other player.

An indirect free kick is a way to restart a play after the match was paused as a result of technical infringement during a match.

A referee awards an indirect kick when the goalkeeper is fouled, a player plays dangerously or when a player impends opponent from advancing.

Law 14: The Penalty Kick

The referee awards a penalty kick when a player from the defensive team fouls an attacking player inside the penalty box.

A player can only take a penalty from a designated marked pot within the goal area referred to as the penalty spot.

Players from both teams must be outside the penalty box except the attacking player taking the penalty and the defensive goalkeeper.

The goalkeepers must not advance beyond the goal line before the kick is taken but they may move horizontally along the line.

Law 15: Throw-In

A throw-in occurs when the ball goes out of play beyond either touchline. The offended team takes the throw-in.

To throw the ball correctly, a player must simultaneously release the ball with both hands. At the same time, the feet must remain touching the ground.

Failure to that, the referee awards a throw-in to the offending team. Players should not score directly from a throw-in. In addition, the goalkeeper is should not grab the ball from a throw-in.

Law 16: Goal Kick

A goal kick occurs when the ball goes out of play on the goal lines when played by the attacking player.

The goalkeeper takes a goal kick by placing the ball on the ground then kicking it to pass to his colleges. The goalkeeper cannot pass the ball by throwing using his or her hands in case of a goal kick.

Law 17: Corner Kick

A corner kick occurs when the ball is played out of the field along the goal line by the defensive team.

The offensive team takes the kick at the corner spot usually behind the marked corner kick line. A player can score directly from a corner kick.

Those are the soccer rules that govern any football match from a local tournament to champions league or world cup.

Know you know!


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