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Soccer Rules

By: Q. Smyth
January 25, 2007 - Page Updated at 3:45pm
Senior Editor For Handicapping.


The Rules and definitions of Soccer/Football for better understanding online soccer betting.

Soccer Rule 1 - The Field Of Play

Field surface

Matches may be played on natural or artificial surfaces, according to the rules of the competition.


Length: From 90 m (100 yds) to 120 m (130 yds)
Width: From 45 m (50 yds) to 90 m (100 yds)

International Matches

Length: From 100 m (110 yds) to 110 m (120 yds)
Width: From 64 m (70 yds) to 75 m (80 yds)

Soccer Rule 2– The Ball

Qualities and Measurements

The ball is: spherical; made of leather or other suitable material; of a circumference of not more than 70 cm (28 ins) and not less than 68 cm (27 ins); not more than 450 g (16 oz) in weight and not less than 410 g (14 oz) at the start of the match; of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1100 g/cm2) at
sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in – 15.6 lbs/sq in).

Replacement of a Defective Ball
If the ball bursts or becomes defective during the course of a match:the match is stopped;
the match is restarted by dropping the replacement ball at the place where the first ball became defective.

If the ball bursts or becomes defective whilst not in play at a kick-off, goal kick, corner kick, free kick, penalty kick or throw-in: the match is restarted accordingly.

Soccer Rule 3 – The Number of Players


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.

Official Competitions

Up to a maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match played in an official competition organised under the auspices of FIFA, the confederations or the member associations.
The rules of the competition must state how many substitutes may be nominated, from three up to a maximum of seven.

Other Matches

In national A team matches, up to a maximum of six substitutes may be used.

In all other matches, a greater number of substitutes may be used provided that:
the teams concerned reach agreement on a maximum number; the referee is informed before the match.
If the referee is not informed, or if no agreement is reached before the match, no more than six substitutes are allowed.

Soccer Rule 4 – The Players' Equipment


A player must not use equipment or wear anything that is dangerous to himself or another player (including any kind of jewellery).


All items of jewellery are potentially dangerous. The term “dangerous” can sometimes be ambiguous and controversial, therefore in order to be uniform and consistent any kind of jewellery has to be forbidden. Players are not allowed to use tape to cover jewellery. Taping jewellery is not adequate protection. Rings, earrings, leather or rubber bands are not necessary to play and the only thing they can bring about is injury.

Soccer Rule 5 – The Referee

The Authority of The Referee

Each match is controlled by a referee who has full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed.

Powers and Duties

The Referee enforces the Laws of the Game; controls the match in co-operation with the assistant referees and, where applicable, with the fourth official; ensures that any ball used meets the requirements of Law 2; ensures that the players' equipment meets the requirements of Law 4; acts as timekeeper and keeps a record of the match; stops, suspends or terminates the match, at his discretion, for any infringements of the Laws; stops, suspends or terminates the match because of outside interference of any kind; stops the match if, in his opinion, a player is seriously injured and ensures that he is removed from the field of play. An injured player may only return to the field of play after the match has restarted; allows play to continue until the ball is out of play if a player is, in his opinion, only slightly injured;

Soccer Rule 6 – The Assistant Referees


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.


The assistant referees also assist the referee to control the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the field of play to help control the 9.15m distance. In the event of undue interference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the appropriate authorities.

Soccer Rule 7 – The Duration of the Match

Two 45 minute halves. Totaling 90 Minutes. 30 Minutes of Extra Time (overtime). Followed by a shootout. Best out of 5.

Soccer Rule 8 – The Start And Restart of Play


A coin is tossed and the team that 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 that 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.

Soccer Rule 9 – The Ball in and Out of Play

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.

Soccer Rule 10 – The Method of Scoring

Goal Scored

A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts and under the crossbar, provided that no infringement of the Laws of the Game has been committed previously by the team scoring the goal.

Winning Team

The team scoring the greater number of goals during a match is the winner. If both teams score an equal number of goals, or if no goals are scored, the match is drawn.

Competition Rules

When competition rules require there to be a winning team after a match or home-and-away tie, only the following procedures, which have been approved by the International F.A. Board, are permitted; Away goals rule; Extra time; Kicks from the penalty mark.

Soccer Rule 11 – Offside

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 or he is level with the second last opponent or 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 or interfering with an opponent or gaining an advantage by being in that position.

Soccer Rule– Fouls and Misconduct

Fouls and misconduct are penalised as follows:

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).

Soccer Rule 13 – Free Kicks

Types of Free Kicks

Free kicks are either direct or indirect.

For both direct and indirect free kicks, the ball must be stationary when the kick is taken and the kicker does not touch the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

The Direct Free Kick

If a direct free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is awarded. If a direct free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team.

The Indirect Free Kick

Signal - The referee indicates an indirect free kick by raising his arm above his head. He maintains his arm in that position until the kick has been taken and the ball has touched another player or goes out of play.

Soccer Rule 14 – The Penalty Kick

The Penalty Kick

A penalty kick is awarded against a team that commits one of the ten offences for which a direct free kick is awarded, inside its own penalty area and while the ball is in play. A goal may be scored directly from a penalty kick. Additional time is allowed for a penalty kick to be taken at the end of each half or at the end of periods of extra time.

Position of the Ball and the Players

The ball: is placed on the penalty mark.

The player taking the penalty kick: is properly identified.

The defending goalkeeper: remains on his goal line, facing the kicker, between the goalposts until the ball has been kicked.

Soccer Rule 15 – The Throw-in

A throw-in is a method of restarting play.

A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in.

A throw-in is awarded: when the whole of the ball passes over the touch line, either on the ground or in the air; * from the point where it crossed the touch line; to the opponents of the player who last touched the ball.


At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower: * faces the field of play; has part of each foot either on the touch line or on the ground outside the touch line, uses both hands delivers the ball from behind and over his head. The thrower may not touch the ball again until it has touched another player.

Soccer Rule 16 – The Goal Kick

A goal kick is a method of restarting play. A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing team.

A goal kick is awarded when: the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the attacking team, passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, and a goal is not scored in accordance with Law 10 .


The ball is kicked from any point within the goal area by a player of the defending team. Opponents remain outside the penalty area until the ball is in play. The kicker does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player. The ball is in play when it is kicked directly beyond the penalty area.


If the ball is not kicked directly into play beyond the penalty area: the kick is retaken.

Soccer Rule 17 – The Corner Kick

A corner kick is a method of restarting play. A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing team.

A corner kick is awarded when: the whole of the ball, having last touched a player of the defending team, passes over the goal line, either on the ground or in the air, and a goal is not scored in accordance with Law 10 .


The ball is placed inside the corner arc at the nearest corner flagpost. The corner flagpost is not moved. Opponents remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play. The ball is kicked by a player of the attacking team. The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. The kicker does not play the ball a second time until it has touched another player.

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