July 18, 2024



Laws of Football – Summary of the Basic Rules

The playing area (‘pitch’) must be rectangular and be between 90m (100yds) and 120m (130yds) long and between 45m (50yds) and 90m (100yds) team kits. The end lines are called goal lines and the side lines are called touch lines.

Basic kit consists of a shirt, shorts, socks, shinguards and boots/shoes. Goalkeepers must wear colours different from other players – including their own side – and match officials.

Each match is controlled by a referee supported by 2 assistant referees. He stops the game by means of a whistle for any infringement. He also acts as timekeeper. The assistant referees indicate by flag when the ball is out of play. They also flag when they see infringements that the referee may not have seen.

A game consists of 2 halves of 45 minutes each, with an interval (half-time) of a maximum of 15 minutes. The referee may add on additional time at the end of each half to compensate for time lost through injuries, substitutions and players’ deliberate ‘time-wasting.’

A coin is tossed to decide which team gets to choose which goal to attack. The losing team gets to take the kick-off to start the game. The teams change ends for the second half. A kick-off is also used after a goal is scored.

A goal has been scored when the whole ball has crossed the goal-line between the goal-posts. The team scoring the most goals wins. If both teams score the same number of goals – or neither team scores – the game is drawn.

A player is penalized for offside if at the instant the ball was played by a team mate, the player was actively involved in the play and did not have 2 opposing players between him/her and the opposition’s goal line. The player is not in an offside position if he/she is in his/her own half, or, is level with the second last opponent, or, receives the ball from a goal kick, corner kick or throw-in. An indirect free kick is awarded for offside.

There are ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’ free kicks. These are just some of the offences for which a direct free kick is awarded:- hitting, kicking; tripping; pushing; deliberate hand ball; etc. Similarly for an indirect free kick we have:- dangerous play; impeding an opponent (‘obstruction’); a goalie holding the ball for more than 6 seconds; a goalie handling the ball after it has been passed to him by a team mate, etc.

At the subsequent free kick, all opposition players must be a minimum of 9.15m (10yds) from where the ball is placed. A penalty kick is awarded for any infringement which takes place inside the penalty area for which a direct free kick would normally have been awarded if it had occurred outside the area.