The International Football Association Board administers the 17 Laws of the Game. These main football rules and regulations are carried out to make the sport fair and safe to play while preserving its competitiveness and especially not taking the fun out of the world’s favorite game.
Here are the 17 main football rules:
Law 1: The field of play
The field of play also known as the pitch must always be
rectangular in shape and marked out with boundary lines. It should be divided
into two halves by the halfway line, which joins the middle of both touchlines.
The longer lines are called touchlines and the shorter ones are the goal lines. The penalty area surrounds the goal. Lines are marked starting out from the goal line, 18 yards either side of each post, and extending 18 yards into the field of play. These lines are joined by a line parallel to the goal line.
The goal should be placed on the center of each goal line
and a net must be attached behind the goal.
Law 2: The ball
The ball to be used must be spherical, made of leather or a
similar suitable material. It must have a circumference no bigger than 28
inches and no smaller than 27 inches, weigh between 14 and 16 ounces, and
maintain a pressure of between 8.5 and 15.6 psi.
If the ball becomes unplayable, the referee must stop the
game and issue a replacement ball, only the referee can change the ball. Play
is restarted either with a dropped ball, for which both teams can compete, or
with a set piece or throw in if the ball was out of play.
Law 3: The number of players
Two teams play in a match with each team consists of a maximum
of 11 players, one of which is the goalkeeper. Teams must have at least seven
players or they are not allowed to play at all.
If a team’s roster are less than the allowed minimum number
of players due to illness or injury, or some other circumstances, the match
will be postponed.
Teams can make three substitutions during a game. Players
can be sent off for foul play, and injuries may outnumber the substitutes
allowed. Before the team can make a substitution, the referee must give a
signal in a break in play, the team cannot substitute when play is ongoing.
Law 4: The players’ equipment
When in football match, all players must wear the basic
uniform, football cleats or turf shoes, shin guards must be covered by the socks,
team’s jersey with sleeves as well as team’s shorts together with socks.
The two playing teams must wear colors that are easily be distinguished.
Their colors should not match with the referee’s uniform to avoid confusion.
Goalkeepers should wear separate colors that will distinguish
them from both their teammates and the opposition team as well as from the referees.
Football players are not allowed to wear, or use anything
that can harm other players as well as themselves. No jewelries are allowed in
the field. However, players are given the permission to wear earrings or
wedding rings, providing they cover them with medical tape.
Law 5: The referee
Every football match is controlled by someone who has the
power to enforce all the rules, he or she is called the referee. The referee’s
decision is always final and in anyway, cannot be changed whether the call is
deemed incorrect. Even the referee is wrong, he or she is always right.
A player can end up receiving a caution from the referee if
he argue too much. The referee is equipped with a whistle, a stopwatch, yellow
and red cards, and a book and pencil. The referee also usually acts as official
timekeeper for the match.
Law 6: The assistant referees
Assistant referees, formerly known as linesmen or lines-women, run down the touchlines with flags in their hands, following the path of the ball. They provide assistance to the referee in manning in the middle. They can help the referee by ensuring the game is played in accordance with all of the Laws of the Game.
At least two assistant referees can play a key role in
indicating when the ball has left the field of play: In doing so they show
which team has won a corner, goal kick, or throw in, when a player is offside,
when a player is to be substituted and when they have spotted a foul or infringement.
Law 7: The duration of the game
A football match is divided
into of two 45-minute halves, with extra time added for each at the referee’s
discretion. The halves are separated by a half-time period not to exceed 15
minutes. Referees may add additional minutes of time for each major
incident or if injuries will occur.
A football match that may
end tied after 90 minutes of play either goes to 30 minutes of extra time which
is played in two 15 minute halves, or straight to a penalty shootout.
Law 8: The start and restart of play
A football match will always begin with a coin toss by the
captains of the opposing team, this will determine which team will start a play
to start the match at the center circle.
The winner of the coin toss has the option of either kicking off or deciding which way to kick in the first half. In the second half the teams change ends and the opposing team starts the kick off.
Law 9: The ball IN and OUT of play
The ball is out of play if the whole ball crosses either
the goal line or the touchline, whether rolling along the ground or flying
through the air.
The ball is in play when inside the field and the referee
has not stopped play. If any part of the ball is touching or still inside the
goal line or touchline, the ball is in play.
The ball remains in play if it rebounds off a post,
crossbar, or corner flag or even if it hits the referee or the assistant referee.
Law 10: The method of scoring
All sports is all about scoring, the same in football. Whoever
scores more goals wins. A player scores a goal when the entire ball crosses
over the goal line, between the goalposts, under the crossbar, and into the
net, whether in the air or on the ground.
If the score is all tied or no goals has been scored, the
match is a draw. The match may then be decided by the away goals rule (in a
series of two games), extra time, and/or penalty kicks.
Law 11: Offside
A player is caught offside if he is nearer to the
opponents’ goal than both the ball and the second-last opponent when his team
mate plays the ball forward. A player cannot receive a ball played forward from
a teammate unless there are at least two defenders, one can be the goalkeeper, both
level with him or between him and the goal.
When offside is called, the referee awards an indirect free
kick to the defending team from the place the offside occurred.
Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct
This rule includes the penalties that are imposed by a
referee for players who are showing unruly behavior that may cause harm to
another players during a football match.
A foul will be called if a player jumps, charges, trips, strikes
of any kind like punching, kicking, head-butting, biting, elbowing, as well as
pushes with the intention to harm another player. A foul is also called when a
player attempts to strike, spits, holds, makes a tackle but hits with the
player before the ball, deliberately handles the ball (except for the goalkeepers), obstructs or
prevents an opponent from releasing the ball. These will result to a player committing
the foul being issued with red and yellow cards.
A direct free kick (or penalty, if foul is committed in the
penalty box) or an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team.
Law 13: Free kicks
There are two types of free kicks, the ‘direct’ and
‘indirect’. A player can take a direct free kick and aim it straight into the
An indirect free kick is for a goal to be scored, the ball
has to touch another player before it enters the goal. This can be done by either
passing it to a teammate, allowing him to take a shot or by a deflection either
off a teammate or an opponent.
Law 14: The penalty kick
The referee awards a penalty kick when a direct free kick
is awarded against a team in its own penalty area. The ball is placed on the
penalty spot by the intended taker.
The goalkeeper from the opposing team must stay on his line
until the ball is kicked. After the referee blows his whistle the penalty taker
can take the penalty shot. The taker must kick the ball forward and cannot kick
it again until another player has touched the ball.
If the ball bounces back off the post or crossbar, the
penalty taker cannot play the ball again but his teammates are allowed to
follow up and take a shot.
Law 15: The throw in
A player is not allowed to score a goal directly from a
throw-in. The referee awards a throw-in to the opposing team when the ball
leaves the field of play and crossing the touchline.
The thrower must have at least part of both his feet
touching the ground, either outside the field of play or the touchline. He must
throw in the ball using both hands, throwing it from behind and over his head.
He must deliver the ball at the point it left the field of play. A player cannot
throw the ball onto the field and then play it himself. The ball has to be touched
by another player before the thrower can play the ball again.
Law 16: The goal kick
A player can score a goal directly from a goal kick. A goal
kick gets awarded when the offensive team plays the ball out of bounds over the
defensive team’s goal line. The taker must send the ball out of the penalty
area or be retaken. The taker may not touch the ball again until it has been
touched by a second player.
After the ball is out of play, the defender or goalkeeper
may place the ball anywhere within the 6 yard goal box to kick the ball back
Law 17: The corner kick
The referee awards a corner kick when the ball runs out of
play over the goal line and the last to touch it was the opposing team.
The corner kick is played by the offensive team placing the
ball in the corner arc nearest to where it crossed the goal line.
The ball gets placed within the corner area and kicked back
into play by the offensive team. The kicker is not allowed to move the corner
flag, and cannot play the ball once kicked until another player has touched the
ball. Opposing players are not allowed to go near within 10 yards of the corner
arc until the ball is kicked.