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A Guide to Soccer Rules

Fans may not like some of them, but there would be anarchy if soccer rules did not exist for the world’s greatest game.

There are 17 main laws governing soccer, each of which are implemented by the governing body for soccer within each jurisdiction worldwide.

For example, the Football Association is responsible for ensuring that the laws are correctly followed across the football pyramid in England. The rules are summarised as follows.

Law 1 – The Field of Play

The field of play rule covers several different elements including the surface, markings, dimensions, pitch areas, goals, safety and more.

Law 2 – The Ball

The soccer ball rule includes details about qualities & measurements, replacement of defective balls and the placement of additional balls around the field of play.

Law 3 – The Players

The third soccer law covers the players and includes details of the maximum number in each team (11), the number of substitutions permitted, goalkeeper changes, offences and sanctions.

Law 4 – The Players’ Equipment

The Players’ Equipment rule features information about the compulsory equipment players must wear, safety, colours, advertising, tracking systems and several other elements.

Law 5 – The Referee

Law 5 covers all aspects of the referee including the scope of their authority, decisions, powers, duties, Video Assistant Referee (VAR), referee’s equipment, signals and liability.

Law 6 – The Other Match Officials

The sixth rule covers the other match officials including assistant referees, the fourth official, additional assistant referees, video match officials and refereeing signals.

Law 7 – The Duration of the Match

The duration of the match rule covers periods of play, the half-time interval, allowance for time lost, extensions for penalty kicks and abandoned matches.

Law 8 – The Start and Restart of Play

The start and restart of play rule unsurprisingly covers how the game is started, what happens after a goal and how the game restarts after stoppages in play.

Law 9 – The Ball in and out of Play

Law 9 describes whether the ball is in and out of play in several different scenarios including passing over the touchline, stoppages in play, hitting the crossbar and more.

Law 10 – Determining the Outcome of a Match

The rule for determining the outcome of a match governs how goals are scored from open play or in set-piece situations such as free kicks and penalties.

Law 11 – Offside

The offside rule causes plenty of controversy, with several elements to consider including whether specific parts of a player’s body are nearer to the opponents’ goal line than the ball and the second-last opponent.

Law 12 – Fouls and Misconduct

The fouls and misconduct rule covers the offences that players may commit including handball, violent conduct, reckless play and many more.

Law 13 – Free-Kicks

The law covering free-kicks includes details about the different situations where direct or indirect free-kicks will be awarded.

Law 14 – The Penalty Kick

The penalty kick rule covers why these are awarded, and the procedure that must be followed to ensure the kick is taken correctly.

Law 15 – The Throw-in

The throw-in rule details the circumstances when these will be awarded and the procedure a player must use to restart the game.

Law 16 – The Goal Kick

The goal kick rule determines when these are awarded, and the procedure players must follow to start the game again.

Law 17 – The Corner Kick

The corner kick rule covers the circumstances when these will be awarded and the procedure the players must follow to restart the game.