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Rules and Laws in Football

Extracts from this document...


Rules and laws of football

Without rules and laws no sport would be able to exist as a particular order must be kept while playing every sport whether it is football, netball, wrestling or swimming.

 In this section of the coursework I will explain the rules of football and the responsibility of the officials.

I will start by looking at, arguably the most important part of the game, where football is played.

The Field of Play

Field Surface
Matches may be played on natural or artificial surfaces, according to the rules of the competition. The Field of Play and appurtenances shall be as shown in the plan above:-

The field of play must be rectangular. The length of the touch line must be greater than the length of the goal line.
Length Minimum 90 m (100 yds) Maximum 120 m (130 yds)
Width Minimum 45 m (50 yds) Maximum 90 m (100 yds)

Field Markings
The field of play is marked with lines. These lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.
The two longer boundary lines are called touch lines. The two shorter lines are called goal lines.
All lines are not more than 12 cm (5 ins) wide.
The field of play is divided into two halves by a halfway line.
The centre mark is indicated at the midpoint of the halfway line. A circle with a radius of 9.15 m (10 yds) is marked around it.

The Goal Area
A goal area is defined at each end of the field as follows:
Two lines are drawn at right angles to the goal line, 5.5 m (6 yds) from the inside of each goalpost. These lines extend into the field of play for a distance of 5.5 m (6 yds) and are joined by a line drawn parallel with the goal line.

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assessment of injury to players  removal of injured players from the field of play for treatment  wasting time  any other cause

The allowance for time lost is at the discretion of the referee.

Penalty kick
If a penalty kick has to be taken or retaken, the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick is completed.

Abandoned match
An abandoned match is replayed unless the competition rules provide otherwise

Now I have looked at the playing surface I will now say what is legal and illegal with in the field of play.

A match is played by two teams, each consisting of not more than eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. A match may not start if either team consists of fewer than seven players.

Substitution Procedure
To replace a player by a substitute, the following conditions must be observed:

  • the referee is informed before any proposed substitution is made
  • a substitute only enters the field of play after the player being replaced has left and after receiving a signal from the referee
  • a substitute only enters the field of play at the halfway line and during a stoppage in the match
  • a substitution is completed when a substitute enters the field of play
    from that moment, the substitute becomes a player and the player he has replaced ceases to be a player
  • a player who has been replaced takes no further part in the match
  • all substitutes are subject to the authority of the referee, whether called upon to play or not

A coin is tossed and the team which wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match. The other team takes the kick-off to start the match. The team which wins the toss takes the kick-off to start the second half of the match. In the second half of the match the teams change ends and attack the opposite goals.

A kick-off is a way of starting or restarting play:

  • at the start of the match
  • after a goal has been scored
  • at the start of the second half of the match
  • at the start of each period of extra time, where applicable

A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.


  • all players are in their own half of the field
  • the opponents of the team taking the kick-off are at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the ball until it is in play
  • the ball is stationary on the centre mark 
  • the referee gives a signal 
  • the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves forward
  • the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

After a team scores a goal, the kick-off is taken by the other team. 

Ball out of play
The ball is out of play when:

  • it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air
  • play has been stopped by the referee

Ball in play
The ball is in play at all other times, including when:

  • it rebounds from a goalpost, crossbar or corner flagpost and remains in the field of play
  • it rebounds from either the referee or an assistant referee when they are on the field of play

Offside position
It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.
A player is in an offside position if:

  • he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second last opponent

A player is not in an offside position if: 

  • he is in his own half of the field of play
  • he is level with the second last opponent
  • he is level with the last two opponents

A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee, involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play
  • interfering with an opponent
  • gaining an advantage by being in that position

No offence
There is no offside situation if a player receives the ball directly from:

  • a goal kick
  • a throw-in
  • a corner kick

For any offside offence, the referee awards an indirect free-kick to the opposing team to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred. 

Direct free kick

A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following six offences in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
  • trips or attempts to trip an opponent
  • jumps at an opponent
  • charges an opponent
  • strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
  • pushes an opponent

A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following four offences:

  • tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact with the opponent before touching the ball
  • holds an opponent
  • spits at an opponent
  • handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
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punishes the more serious offence when a player commits more than one offence at the same time takes disciplinary action against players guilty of cautionable and sending-off offences. He is not obliged to take this action immediately but must do so when the ball next goes out of play takes action against team officials who fail to conduct themselves in a responsible manner and may at his discretion, expel them from the field of play and its immediate surrounds acts on the advice of assistant referees regarding incidents which he has not seen ensures that no unauthorised persons enter the field of play restarts the match after it has been stopped provides the appropriate authorities with a match report which includes information on any disciplinary action taken against players, and/or team officials and any other incidents which occurred before, during or after the match

Decisions of the referee
The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play are final. The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

Two assistant referees are appointed whose duties, subject to the decision of the referee, are to indicate:

  • when the whole of the ball has passed out of the field of play
  • which side is entitled to a corner kick, goal kick or throw-in
  • when a player may be penalised for being in an offside position
  • when a substitution is requested
  • when misconduct or any other incident has occurred out of the view of the referee
  • when offences have been committed whenever the assistants are closer to the action than the referee (this includes, in particular circumstances, offences committed in the penalty area)
  • whether, at penalty kicks, the goalkeeper has moved forward before the ball has been kicked and if the ball has crossed the line

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