FOOTBALL - RULES OF THE SPORT
The Laws of the Game (also known as the Laws of Football) are the rules governing a game of association football (soccer).
Current Laws of the Game
The current Laws of the Game consists of 17 individual laws:
Law 1: The Field of Play
Law 2: The Ball
Law 3: The Number of Players
Law 4: The Players' Equipment
Law 5: The Referee
Law 6: The Assistant Referees
Law 7: The Duration of the Match
Law 8: The Start and Restart of Play
Law 9: The Ball In and Out of Play
Law 10: The Method of Scoring
Law 11: Offside
Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct
Law 13: Free Kicks
Law 14: The Penalty Kick
Law 15: The Throw-In
Law 16: The Goal Kick
Law 17: The Corner Kick
History and development
The Laws were first drawn up by Ebenezer Cobb Morley prior to being refined at a meeting of the Football Association (FA) on 8 December 1863. Today the Laws of the Game are determined by the International Football Association Board. The board was established on 6 December 1882 when representatives from the Scottish Football Association (SFA), the Football Association of Wales (FAW) and the Irish Football Association (IFA) (now the governing body in Northern Ireland and not to be confused with the Football Association of Ireland (FAI) the governing body in the Republic of Ireland) were invited to attend a meeting in Manchester by the FA; previously games between teams from different countries had to agree to which countries' rules were used before playing. When the international football body FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904 it immediately declared that it would adhere to the rules laid down by the IFAB. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the IFAB in 1913. Today the board is made up of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the British associations.
The original Laws of the Game were established by the FA in December of 1863 and are shown below:
Gutta-percha is an inelastic natural latex, produced from the resin of the Isonandra Gutta tree of Malaya. It was used for many purposes (e.g. the core of golf balls; the insulation of telegraph cables) before the discovery of superior synthetic materials.
A football field (or pitch) is the playing surface for a game of association football (soccer). Its dimensions and markings are defined by the Law 1 of the Laws of the Game.
All line markings on the pitch form part of the area which they define. For example, a ball on or over the touchline is still on the field of play; a ball on the line of the goal area is in the goal area; and a foul committed over the 16.5 m (18-yard)line has occurred in the penalty area. Therefore a ball must wholly cross the touchline to be out of play, and a ball must wholly cross the goal line (between the goal posts) before a goal is scored; if any part of the ball is still on or over the line, the ball is still in play.
The field descriptions that apply to adult matches are described below. Note that due to the original formulation of the Laws in England and the early supremacy of the four British football associations within IFAB, the standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in imperial units. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate metric equivalents (followed by traditional units in brackets), however popular use tends to continue to use traditional units.
Pitch dimensions and markings
The length of pitch for international matches should be in the range 100 m - 110 m (110-120 yards) and the width should be in the range 65 m - 75 m (70-80 yards). For other matches the constraints are looser: 90 m - 120 m (100-130 yards) length by 45 m - 90 m (50-100 yards) width. The pitch must be rectangular, this is longer than it is wide.
The longer boundary lines are touch lines, while the shorter boundaries (on which the goals are placed) are goal lines.
The halfway line divides the pitch in half lengthways. Halfway across the halfway line is the centre spot, from which kick-offs are taken at the start of each playing period and after a goal is scored. The centre circle (radius 9.15 m (10 yards)) surrounds this spot, and serves to indicate the distance opposing players must stay from the ball at a kick-off.
In each corner of the pitch is a corner arc (quarter-circle radius 1 m (1 yard) which marks the area from which a corner-kick may be taken. Corner flags (minimum height 1.5 m (5 feet)) are required to be placed at each corner; similar flagposts may be optionally placed 1 m (1 yard) from each end of the halfway line.
A goal area, penalty area, penalty spot and penalty arc are marked in front of each goal; these are discussed below.
Goals are placed at the centre of each goal-line. These consist of two upright posts placed equidistant from the corner flagposts, joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar. The inner edges of the posts must be 7.3 m (8 yards) apart, and the lower edge of the crossbar must be 2.44 m (8 feet) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, though are not required by the Laws.
Penalty and goal areas
Two rectangular boxes are marked out on the pitch in front of each goal.
The goal area (colloquially "5.5 m (6 yard) box"), consists of the area formed by the goal-line, two lines starting on the goal-line 5.5 m (6 yards) from the goalposts and extending 5.5 m (6 yards) into the pitch from the goal-line, and a line joining these. Goal kicks and any free kick by the defending team may be taken from anywhere in this area. Indirect free kicks awarded to the attacking team within the goal area must be taken from the point on the line parallel to the goal line nearest where an incident occurred; they can not be taken further within the goal-area. Similarly drop-balls that would otherwise occur in the goal area are taken on this line.
The penalty area (colloquially "16.5 m (18 yard) box") is similarly formed by the goal-line and lines extending from it, however its lines commence 16.5 m (18 yards) from the goalposts and extend 16.5 m (18 yards) into the field. This area has a number of functions, the most prominent being to denote where the goalkeeper may handle the ball and where a foul by an attacker, usually punished by a direct free kick, becomes punishable by a penalty kick.
The penalty mark (or "penalty spot") is immediately in the middle of, and 11 m (12 yards)in front of, the goal; this is where penalty kicks are taken from. The penalty arc (colloquially "the D") is marked from the outside edge of the penalty area, 9.15 m (10 yards) from the penalty mark; this marks an exclusion zone for all players other than the kicker and the opposing goalkeeper during a penalty kick.
Aside from the field of play, the Laws and by-laws can be used to regulate related areas off the field. The most prominent of these is the technical area, which defines the bench areas and nearby areas to which coaching and managing staff are generally restricted. Note that the referee's authority extends not only to the field of play, but also its immediate surrounds, including the technical area.
A football is a ball used to play one of the sports known as football.
As the term football has diverged, the name of the ball itself may refer to one of two basic shapes:
Association football (soccer)
The ball used in Association football (soccer) is called a football or soccer ball. Law 2 of the game specifies the ball to be an air-filled sphere with a circumference of 68–70 cm (or 27–28 inches), a weight of 410–450 g (or 14–16 ounces), inflated to a pressure of 60–110 kPa (or 8.5–15.6 psi), and covered in leather or "other suitable" material.
Modern balls are stitched from 32 waterproofed panels, 12 regular pentagons and 20 regular hexagons. The first such was the Adidas Telstar ball, the official ball of the Mexico World Cup in 1970. The Telstar's design of black pentagon/white hexagon has become the archetype, still used for generic balls and symbolic representations of the game. However premium branded balls, such as the Nike Total 90 Aerow and Total 90 Aerow Hi-Vis (the official ball of the English Premiership in 2005), have other more elaborate patterns.
Detailed techniques involved in the design and construction of association footballs are given at the Soccer Ball World.
The 32-panel configuration is similar to the polyhedron known as the truncated icosahedron, except that it is more spherical, because the faces bulge due to the pressure of the air inside. It can be also described as a model for the buckminsterfullerene (C60) molecule. The diameter of the association football and the Buckminsterfullerene molecule are 22 cm and ca. 1 nm, respectively, hence the size ratio is 200,000,000 : 1.
The standard ball is a Size 5. Smaller sizes exist; Size 3 is standard for team handball; others are used in underage games or as novelty items. Traditional, pre-1970, balls were monochrome (brown or white); they were stitched from 18 oblong non-waterproof leather panels, similar to the design of modern volleyballs and Gaelic footballs, and laced to allow access to the internal air bladder. There are also indoor footballs, which are made of one or two pieces of plastic. Often these have designs printed on them to resemble a leather ball.
About 80% of association footballs are made in Pakistan, mainly in small workshops and factories. FIFA and the major sports brands have taken public steps in response to concerns been raised about the use of child labour in the manufacture of association footballs.
American and Canadian football
In North America, the term football refers to a ball which is used to play American football or Canadian football. Nearly a prolate spheroid, it is slightly pointed at the ends (unlike the more elliptical rugby ball). It is about 11 inches (28 cm) long and about 22 inches (56 cm) in circumference at the center. Balls are made of four pieces of leather stitched together. A football has a rubber lining, which is inflated to an air pressure of 12.5–13.5 psi (86–93 kPa). The ball weighs 14–15 ounces (397–425 g). Leather laces along one seam provide a grip for holding and passing the ball. Footballs used in recreation may be made of rubber or plastic as well. Regardless of the material used to make it, the ball is sometimes colloquially referred to as a pigskin.
Gaelic football is played with a spherical ball, roughly 25.4 cm (10 in) in diameter and 68.6 cm (27 in) to 73.7 cm (29 in) in circumference. A dry ball weighs between 370 g (13 oz) and 425 grams (15 oz). Gaelic footballs are also the standard balls used in International rules football.
The football used in rugby is a prolate spheriod essentially elliptical in profile. Traditionally made of brown leather, modern rugby balls are manufactured in a variety of colors and patterns. A regulation rugby ball is 28–30 cm (11–11.8 inches) long and 58–62 cm (22.8–24.4 inches) in circumference at its widest point. It weighs 410–460 grams (14.5–16.2 ounces) and is inflated to 65.71–68.75 kPa (or 9.5–10 psi).
The football used in Australian football is similar to the rugby ball, however the Australian Football is generally slightly smaller, and of a more rounded shape. A regulation Football is 720–730 mm in circumference, and 545–555 mm transverse circumference, and inflated to a pressure of 62–76Kpa. In the AFL, the balls are red for matches that take place during the day, and yellow for matches that take place at night.
Football is a team sport played between two teams of eleven players each. It is a ball game played on a rectangular grass field with a goal at each end. The objective of the game is to score by maneuvering the ball into the opposing goal. Other than the goalkeepers, players may not intentionally use their hands or arms to propel the ball in general play. The winner is the team which has scored most goals at the end of the match.
The sport is also known by other names in some parts of the English-speaking world, usually association football and its contraction, soccer. These names are often used to distinguish the game from other codes of football, since the word "football" may be used to refer to several quite different games.
Football is played at a professional level all over the world, and millions of people regularly go to football stadia to follow their favourite team, whilst millions more avidly watch the game on television. A very large number of people also play football at an amateur level.
According to a survey conducted by Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), football's governing body, published in the spring of 2001, over 240 million people regularly play football in more than 200 countries in every part of the world. Its simple rules and minimal equipment requirements have no doubt aided its spread and growth in popularity. In many parts of the world football evokes great passions and plays an important role in the life of individual fans, local communities, and even nations; it is therefore often claimed to be the most popular sport in the world.
Nature of the game
Two teams of eleven players each compete to get a round ball (itself known as a football) into the other team's goal, thereby scoring a goal. The team which has scored the most goals at the conclusion of the game is the winner; if both teams have an equal number of goals then the game is a draw. The primary rule for this objective is that players, other than the goalkeepers, may not intentionally touch the ball with their hands or arms during play (though they do use their hands during a throw-in restart). Although players mainly use their feet to move the ball around, they may use any part of their bodies other than their hands or arms.
In typical game play, players attempt to move towards a goal through individual control of the ball, such as by dribbling (running with the ball close to their feet); by passing the ball from team-mate to team-mate; and by taking shots at the goal. Opposition players may try to regain control of the ball by intercepting a pass or through tackling the opponent who controls the ball.
Football is generally a free-flowing game with the ball in play at all times except when the ball has left the field of play by wholly crossing over a boundary line (either on the ground or in the air), or play has been stopped by the referee. When play has been stopped, it recommences with a specified restart (see below).
The game is played in accordance with a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game, which are summarised below.
The Laws of the Game
History and development
The Laws of the Game are based on efforts made in the mid-19th century to standardise the rules of the widely varying games of football played at the independent schools of England. The first set of rules resembling the modern game were produced at Trinity College, Cambridge in 1848, at a meeting attended by representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury, but they were far from universally adopted. During the 1850s, many clubs were formed, thoughout the English-speaking world, independent of schools or universities, to play various forms of football. Some came up with their own distinct codes of rules, most notably the Sheffield Football Club (formed by former pupils from Harrow) in 1857, which led to formation of a Sheffield FA in 1867. In 1862, J.C. Thring of Uppingham School also devised an influential set of rules.
These efforts contributed to the formation of The Football Association (The FA) in 1863 which first met on the evening of 26 October 1863 at the Freemason's Tavern in Great Queen Street, London. The only school to be represented on this occasion was Charterhouse. The Freemason's Tavern was the setting for five more meetings between October and December, which eventually produced the first comprehensive set of rules. At the final meeting, the first FA treasurer, who was the representative from Blackheath, withdrew his club from the FA over the removal of two draft rules at the previous meeting, the first which allowed for the running with the ball in hand and the second, obstructing such a run by hacking (kicking an opponent in the shins), tripping and holding. Other English rugby clubs followed this lead and did not join the FA but instead in 1871 formed the Rugby Football Union. The eleven remaining clubs, under the charge of Ebenezer Cobb Morley, went on to ratify the original fourteen rules of the game. Despite this, the Sheffield FA played by its own rules until the 1870s.
Today the laws of the game are determined by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The Board was formed in 1882 after a meeting in Manchester of The Football Association, the Scottish Football Association, the Football Association of Wales, and the Irish Football Association. The Fédération Internationale de Football Association FIFA, the international football body, was formed in Paris in 1904 and declared that they would adhere to the rules laid down by the IFAB. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the IFAB in 1913. Today the board is made up of four representatives from FIFA and one representative from each of the four British associations.
Overview of the Laws
There are seventeen Laws in the official Laws of the Game. The same laws are designed to apply to all levels of football, although the preface to the Laws does grant national associations the ability to authorise certain modifications for juniors, seniors, women, etc. The Laws are often framed in broad terms, which allows flexibility in their application depending on the nature of the game. In addition to the seventeen Laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of football. The Laws can be found on the official FIFA website.
Players and equipment
Each team consists of a maximum of eleven players (excluding substitutes), one of whom must be the goalkeeper. Competition rules may state a minimum of seven players are required to constitute a team. There are a variety of positions in which the outfield players are strategically placed by a manager/coach, though these positions are not defined or required by the Laws.
One player on each team must be designated as that team's goalkeeper. The goalkeeper is the only player allowed to handle the ball with his hands or arms, but is restricted to doing so within the penalty area (also known as the "box" or "18 yard box") in front of his own goal.
The basic equipment players are required to wear includes a shirt (or jersey), shorts, socks (or stockings), footwear and adequate shin guards. Players are forbidden to wear or use anything that is dangerous to themselves or another player (including jewellery or watches).
A number of players may be replaced by substitutes during the course of the game. The maximum substitutions permitted in international games and in national level leagues is three, though substitution numbers may be varied in other leagues. The usual reasons for a player's replacement include injury, tiredness, ineffectiveness, a tactical switch, or to waste a little time at the end of a finely poised game. In standard adult matches, a player who has been substituted may not take further part in the match.
A game is presided over 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" (Law 5), and whose decisions regarding facts connected with play are final. The referee is assisted by two assistant referees (formerly called linesmen). In many high-level games there is also a fourth official, who assists the referee and may replace another official should the need arise.
The length of the field (pitch) for international adult matches should be in the range 100-130 yards (90-120m) and the width should be in the range 50-100 yards (45-90m).The pitch must be rectangular, with the length of the touch line longer than the width of the goal line.
The longer boundary lines are touch lines, while the shorter boundaries (on which the goals are placed) are goal lines. On the goal line at each end of the field is a goal. The inner edges of the goal posts must be 8 yards (7.32m) apart, and the lower edge of the crossbar must be 8 feet (2.44m) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, though are not required by the Laws.
In front of each goal is an area of the field known as the penalty area (colloquially "penalty box", "18 yard box" or simply "the box"). This area consists of the area formed by the goal-line, two lines starting on the goal-line 18 yards (16.5m) from the goalposts and extending 18 yards into the pitch from the goal-line, and a line joining these. This area has a number of important functions, the most prominent being to denote where the goalkeeper may handle the ball and where a foul by a defender which would usually punished by a direct free kick becomes punishable by a penalty kick.
The field has other field markings and defined areas; these are described in the main article above.
A standard adult football match consists of two periods (known as halves) of 45 minutes each. There is usually a 15-minute break between halves, known as half time. The end of the match is known as full-time.
Time added on
The referee is the official timekeeper for the match, and it is part of his duties to make allowance for time lost through substitutions, injured players requiring attention, cautions and dismissals, sundry time wasting, etc. When making such an allowance for time lost, the referee is often said to be "adding time on"; the added time is commonly referred to as stoppage time or injury time. The amount of time is at the sole discretion of the referee, and the referee alone signals when the match has been completed. There are no other timekeepers, although assistant referees carry a watch and may provide a second opinion if requested by the referee. In matches where a fourth official is appointed, towards the end of the half the referee will signal how many minutes remain to be played, and the fourth official then signals this to players and spectators by holding up a board showing this number.
Note that there is often semantic debate as to whether the referee is "adding on" time to the end of a half, or rather treating time during stoppages as though it never existed as part of the match time; this distinction has little bearing on the practical conduct of a game, however it may be noted that the pre-1997 wording of the laws stated that the referee "shall ... allow the full or agreed time adding thereto all time lost through injury or accident" (Law V), and later FIFA guidelines regarding the annotation of goal scoring times suggested that time is indeed "added-on" to the end of the agreed half period.
Extra time and shootouts
If tied at the end of regulation time, in some competitions the game may go into extra time, which consists of two further 15-minute periods. If the score is still tied after extra time, some competitions allow the use of penalty shootouts (known officially in the Laws of the Game as "kicks from the penalty mark") to determine which team will progress to the next stage of the tournament. Note that goals scored during extra time periods count towards the final score of the game, unlike kicks from the penalty mark which are only used to decide the team that progresses to the next part of the tournament (with goals scored not making up part of the final score).
Competitions utilising two-leg stages (i.e. where each round involves the two teams playing each other twice) may utilise the so-called away goals rule to attempt to determine which team progresses in the event of the teams being equal on wins; however, should results still be equal following this calculation kicks from the penalty mark are usually required. Other competitions may require a tied game to be replayed.
Golden and silver goal experiments
In the late 1990s, the IFAB experimented with ways of making matches more likely to end without requiring kicks from the penalty mark, which were often seen as an undesirable way to end a match.
These involved rules ending a game in extra time early, either when the first goal in extra time was scored (golden goal), or at the end of the first period of extra time if one team was by then leading (silver goal). Both these experiments have been discontinued by IFAB.
Starts and re-starts
Each playing period in football commences with a kick-off, which is a set kick from the centre-spot by one team. At kick-off all players are required to be in their half of the field, and all players of the non-kicking team must also remain outside the centre-circle, until the ball is kicked and moved. Kick-offs are also used to restart play following a goal.
From the initial kick-off of a period until the end of that period, the ball is "in play" at all times until the end of the playing period, except when the ball leaves the field of play or play is stopped by the referee; in these cases play is re-started by one of the following eight methods:
Fouls and misconduct
A foul occurs when a player (not a substitute) commits a specific offence listed in the Laws of the Game when the ball is in play. The offences that constitute a foul are listed in Law 12. "Penal fouls", for example handling the ball, tripping an opponent, pushing an opponent, etc, are punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick depending on where the offence occurred. Other fouls are punishable by an indirect free kick.
Misconduct may occur at any time, and may be committed by both players and substitutes. Whilst the offences that constitute misconduct are listed, the definitions are broad. In particular, the offence of "unsporting behaviour" may be used to deal with most events that violate the spirit of the game, even if they are not listed as specific offences. Misconduct may be punished by a caution (yellow card) or sending-off (red card).
The offside law limits the ability of attacking players to remain forward (i.e. closer to the opponent's goal-line) of both the ball and the second last defending player. It is often assumed that the purpose of this law is to prevent "goal scrounging" or "cherry picking", but in fact the offside law has similar roots to the offside law in rugby. The details and application of this law are complex, and often result in controversy: for more information on offside please refer to the main article above.
The recognised international governing body of football (and associated games, such as futsal and beach soccer) is the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).
Six regional confederations are associated with FIFA; these are:
The recognised various national associations (see football around the world) oversee football within their jurisdictions. These are affiliated both with FIFA directly and also with their respective continental confederations.
Note that the Laws of the Game are not maintained by FIFA itself; rather they are maintained by the International Football Association Board, as discussed in the history and development section above.
Major international competitions
Worldwide international competitions
The major international competition in football is the World Cup organised by FIFA. This competition takes place over a four-year period. Over 190 national teams compete in qualifying tournaments within the scope of continental confederations for a place in the finals. The finals tournament, which is held every four years, now involves 32 national teams (increased from 24 in 1998) competing over a four-week period. The next World Cup takes place in Germany 2006.
There has been a football tournament at the Summer Olympic Games since 1900, except at the 1932 games in Los Angeles. Originally this was for amateurs only, however since the 1984 Summer Olympics professionals have been permitted as well, albeit with certain restrictions which effectively prevent countries from fielding their strongest sides. Currently, the Olympic men's tournament is played at Under-23 level with a restricted number of over-age players per team; consequently the competition is not generally considered to carry the same international significance and prestige as the World Cup. A women's tournament was added in 1996; in contrast to the men's event, the women's Olympic tournament is played by full international sides without age restrictions. It thus carries international prestige considered comparable to that of the FIFA Women's World Cup.
Major international competitions
The major international competitions of the world and the continental confederations, followed by their major club events where appropriate, are:
Names of the game
The rules of football were codified in England by the Football Association in 1863, and the name association football was coined to distinguish the game from the other forms of football played at the time, specifically rugby football. The term soccer first appeared in the 1880s as a slang abbreviation of Association football.
Today the sport is known by a number of names throughout the English-speaking world, the most common being football and soccer; this has generated debate regarding the "correct" name for the sport. The term used depends largely on the need to differentiate the sport from other codes of football followed in a community. Football is the term used by FIFA, the sport's world governing body, and the International Olympic Committee. For more details of naming throughout the world, please refer to the main articles above.
A referee presides over a game of association football (soccer). The referee has "full authority to enforce the Laws of the Game in connection with the match to which he has been appointed" (Law 5), and the referee's decisions regarding facts connected with play are final, so far as the result of the game is concerned.
The referee's numerous powers and duties are described by Law 5 of the Laws of the Game. Amongst other things, these include: Enforcing the Laws of the Game; Controlling the match in co-operation with the assistant referees (and fourth official where applicable); stop/suspend/terminate the match if appropriate; Controlling the restart of play; Acting as the timekeeper and recordkeeper of the game; Disciplining players and officials as required; etc.
The referee is assisted by two assistant referees (formerly known as linesmen), and in some matches also by a fourth official. The match officials utilise a positioning system known as the diagonal system of control.
Referees and their assistants wear a uniform comprised of a jersey, shorts and socks. Traditionally that uniform was almost always all black, unless one of the teams was wearing a very dark jersey in which case the referee would wear another colour of jersey (usually red) to distinguish himself from both teams. At the 1994 World Cup finals, new jerseys were introduced that gave officials a choice of burgundy, yellow or white. Since then, most referees have worn either yellow or black, but the colours adopted by individual associations vary greatly.
The vast majority of referees are amateur, though may be paid a small fee and/or expenses for their services. However, in some countries a limited number of referees - who mainly officiate in their country's top division - are employed full-time by their national associations and receive a retainer at the start of every season plus match fees.
Referees officiating adult competitive international games are required to be selected from the FIFA panel of referees; this restriction does not necessarily apply to non-competitive (so-called friendly) games or youth games.
The term referee originated in association football. Originally the team captains would consult with each other in order to resolve any dispute on the pitch. Eventually this role was delegated to an umpire. Each team would bring their own partisan umpire allowing the team captains to concentrate on the game. Later, the referee, a third "neutral" official was added. The referee would be "referred to" if the umpires could not resolve a dispute. The referee did not take his place on the pitch until 1891. Then, umpires became linesmen (now officially called assistant referees). Today, in many amateur football matches, each side will still supply their own partisan linesman to assist the neutral referee (if any) appointed by the governing football association: this is usually due to there not being enough officials available to have three present at every match.
Referees use a whistle to indicate the commencement of play, to stop play due to an infringement of other reason, to indicate half-time and full-time, and as an adjunct to verbal communication in other situations. Before the introducation of the whistle, refreees indicated their decisions by waving a hankerchief. The whistles that were first adopted by referees were made by Joseph Hudson of the ACME Whistle Company who first began to mass produce whistles in the 1870s for the Metropolitan Police Service. It is frequently stated the referee's whistle was first used in a game between Nottingham Forest and Sheffield Norfolk in 1878; however no such fixture is known to have taken place between the two clubs in that year.
In association football (soccer), offside is covered by Law 11 of the Laws of the Game. Whilst the law may appear simple, its details and application can be complex.
The application of the offside law is best considered in three steps: Offside position; Offside offence; and Offside sanction.
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", unless he is in his own half of the field of play. A player level with the second last opponent is considered to be in an onside position. Note that the last two defenders can be either the goalkeeper and another defender, or two ordinary defenders. Also note that offside position is determined when the ball is touched/played by a team-mate — a player's offside position status is not then altered by them or defenders running forwards or backwards.
It is important to note that being in an offside position is not an offence in itself.
A player in an offside position is only committing an offside offence if, "at the moment the ball touches or is played by one of his team", the player is in the referee's opinion involved in active play by: interfering with play; interfering with an opponent; or gaining an advantage by being in that position.
Determining whether a play is in "active play" can be complex. A player is not committing an offside offence if the player receives the ball directly from a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick.
FIFA issued new guidelines for interpreting the offside law in 2003 and these were incorporated in law 11 in July 2005. The new wording seeks to more precisely define the three cases as follows:
The interpretation of these new definitions was still proving controversial in December 2005, largely over what movements a player in an offside position can make without being judged to be interfering with an opponent.
The sanction for an offside offence is an indirect free kick to the opposing team, from where the offence occurred.
In enforcing this law, the referee depends greatly on his assistant referee, who generally keeps in line with the second last defender in his relevant end (exact positioning techniques are more complex).
The assistant referees' task with regards to off-side can be difficult, as they need to keep up with attacks and counter attacks, consider which players are in an offside position when the ball is played (often from the other end of the field), and then determine whether the offside positioned players become involved in active play. The risk of false judgement is further enhanced by the foreshortening effect, which occurs when the distance between attacking player and the assistant referee is significantly different from the distance to the defending player, and the assistant referee is not directly in line with the defender. The difficulty of off-side officiating is often underestimated by spectators. Trying to judge if a player is level with an opponent at the moment the ball is kicked is not easy: if an attacker and a defender are running in opposite directions, they can be two metres apart in a tenth of a second.
It is often assumed that the offside law is a recent addition to combat "goal scrounging" or "cherry picking", where attacking players hang around near the opposing goal in case the ball gets kicked upfield, but in fact it dates back to the early years of the game, and was much stricter in the past than it is today. A player was "off his side" if he was standing in front of the ball (compare with the current offside law in rugby—a game descended from the same roots), that is, between the ball and the opponent's goal. This was by no means universal —the original Sheffield F.C. rules had no offside, and players known as "kick throughs" were positioned permanently near the opponents' goal.
In 1848, HC Malden held a meeting at his Trinity College, Cambridge rooms, that addressed the problem. Representatives from Eton, Harrow, Rugby, Winchester and Shrewsbury attended, each bringing their own set of rules. They sat down a little after 4pm and by five to midnight had drafted what is thought to be the first set of "Cambridge Rules". Malden is quoted as saying how "very satisfactorily they worked".
Unfortunately no copy of these 1848 rules exists today, but they are thought to have included laws governing throw-ins, goal-kicks, halfway line markings, re-starts, and the disallowing of holding and pushing. They even allowed for a string to be used as a cross bar.
Slowly, as these rules were tried, tested, written and re-written over the following years, a revised set of Cambridge Rules was drawn up in 1856. A copy of these rules, thought to be the oldest set still in existence, can be found in the Shrewsbury School library.
As football developed in the 1860s and 1870s, the offside law proved the biggest argument between the clubs. Sheffield got rid of the "kick throughs" by amending their laws so that one member of the defending side was required between a forward player and the opponent's goal; the Football Association also compromised slightly and adopted the Cambridge idea of three. Finally, Sheffield came into line with the F.A., and "three players" were the rule until 1925.
The change to "two players" rule led to an immediate increase in goal scoring. 4,700 goals were scored in 1,848 Football League games in 1924/25. It rose to 6,373 goals (from the same number of games) in 1925/26.
In 1990 the law was amended to consider an attacker to be onside if level with the second last opponent. This change was part of a general movement by the game's authorities to make the rules more conducive to attacking football and help the game to flow more freely.
The offside trap is a defensive tactic. When an attacking player is making a run up the field with a team-mate ready to kick the ball up to him, the defenders will move up-field in order to put the attacker behind them just before the ball is kicked, hence putting the attacker in an offside position when the ball is kicked. Defenders using this tactic often attempt to bring an attacker's potential offside status to the attention of the assistant referee, typically by shouting or raising their arm.
The use of the trap is often derided as making for boring football. However, it can be a risky strategy; if the offside trap fails, the attacking players will have an almost clear run towards the goal. The 2005 rule changes have made it even more perilous as a tactic.
One of the best-known defenders to employ the offside trap was Billy McCracken of Newcastle United. It is claimed his play pressured officials to modify the laws in 1925, reducing the required number of defenders between the attacker and the goal line from three to two.
A penalty kick is a type of free kick in association football (soccer), taken from twelve yards (eleven metres) out from goal and with only the goalkeeper of the defending team between the penalty taker and the goal.
A penalty kick is performed during normal play. Similar kicks are made in a 'penalty shootout' to determine who progresses after a tied match; though similar in procedure these are not penalty kicks and are governed by different rules: see Penalty shootout (football).
A penalty kick may be awarded when a defending player commits a foul punishable by a direct free kick (a so-called penal foul) against an opponent, within their own penalty area (commonly known as "the box", "18 yard box" or "16 metre box"). Note that it is the location of the offence — and not the position of the ball — that defines whether a foul is punishable by a penalty kick or direct free kick, provided the ball is in play.
The penalty kick is taken from the penalty mark, which is a midline spot 12 yards (11 metres) from the goal. The penalty kick taker must be clearly identified to the referee.
All players other than the defending goalkeeper and the penalty taker must be outside the penalty area, behind the penalty mark, and at least ten yards from the ball (i.e. outside the penalty arc) until the ball is kicked. The goalkeeper must remain between the goalposts on the goal-line facing the ball until the ball is kicked, but may move from side to side along the goal-line.
After the referee signals for the kick to be taken, the kicker must kick the ball in a forward direction (not necessarily at the goal, however this is almost always the case). The ball is in play once it has been kicked and moved, and from this point other players may enter the penalty area and play continues as normal, however most often a goal has already been scored.
The penalty kick is a form of direct free kick, meaning that a goal may be scored directly from it. If a goal is not scored, play continues as usual. As with all free kicks, the kicker may not play the ball a second time, until it has been touched by another player, even after a rebound from the posts. However, a penalty kick is unusual in that, unlike general play, external interference directly after the kick has been taken may result in the kick being retaken (rather than the usual dropped-ball).
Infractions of the penalty kick law (goalkeeper forward movement, encroaching into forbidden areas) by either team are dealt with using an advantage concept.
The referee may also caution (yellow card) players for infringements of the penalty kick law, e.g. repeated encroaching into the penalty area. Note that in practice, most minor penalty kick infractions are not penalised.
Other offences that occur during a penalty kick are dealt with in the usual way.
The invention of the penalty kick is credited to the goalkeeper and businessman William McCrum in 1890 in Milford, County Armagh, Northern Ireland. The Irish Football Association presented the idea to the International Football Association Board and finally after much debate, the board approved the idea on 2 June 1891. It was introduced in the 1891-92 season.
A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer).
A throw-in is awarded to the opponents of the team that last touched the ball, when the ball leaves the field of play by wholly crossing a touch line (either on the ground or in the air).
The throw-in is taken from the point where it crossed the touch line. Opposing players must remain at least 2m from the thrower until the ball is in play.
At the moment of delivering the ball, the thrower must face the field of play, have part of each foot on the ground on or outside the touch line, and use both hands to deliver the ball from behind and over his head.
The ball becomes in play as soon as it enters the field of play.
A goal may not be scored directly from a throw-in. A player may not be penalised for being in an offside position direct from a throw-in.
If an opposing player fails to respect the required distance before the ball is in play or otherwise unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower they may receive a caution (yellow card).
If the thrower fails to deliver the ball as per the required procedure, or delivers it from a point other than where the ball left the field of play, the throw-in is awarded to the opposing team.
It is an offence for the thrower to touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player; this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the defending team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, in which case it is punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate.
A goal kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer).
A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the ball leaves the field of play by wholly crossing the goal line (either on the ground or in the air) without a goal having been scored, having been last touched by an attacking player.
The ball is initially placed anywhere within the defending goal area. All opposing players must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play.
The ball becomes in play as soon as it is kicked and leaves the penalty area.
A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick, but only against the opposing side (i.e. an own goal may not be scored). A player may not be penalised for being in an offside position direct from a goal kick.
Opposing players must retire the required distance as stated above. Failure to do so may constitute misconduct and be punished by a caution (yellow card). Furthermore, if an opposing player enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, the goal kick is retaken.
If a defending player other than the kicker touches the ball after it is kicked but before it is in play, the goal kick is retaken. However, it is an offence for the kicker to touch the ball a second time once the ball has left play, until it has been touched by another player; this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the defending team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, in which case it is punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate.
A corner kick is a method of restarting play in a game of association football (soccer).
A corner kick is awarded to the attacking team when the ball leaves the field of play by wholly crossing the goal line (either on the ground or in the air) without a goal having been scored, having been last touched by a defending player.
The ball is initially placed wholly within the corner arc closest to where the ball went out of play. The corner arc is located at the intersection of the goal line and touch line, and has a radius of 1 yard. All defending players must be at least 10 yards (9.15m) from the ball until the ball is in play.
The ball becomes in play as soon as it is kicked an moves. A goal may be scored directly from a corner kick, but only against the opposing side (i.e. an own goal may not be scored). A player may not be penalised for being in an offside position direct from a corner kick.
Opposing players must retire the required distance as stated above. Failure to do so may constitute misconduct and be punished by a caution (yellow card).
It is an offence for the kicker to touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player; this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the defending team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, in which case it is punishable by a direct free kick or penalty kick, as appropriate.
A corner kick may result in a good scoring opportunity, either directly (rarely), or through getting the ball to teamates in front of the net, known as a cross, where the ball is often played by a "header". An alternative strategy is to play a short corner, in which the ball is kicked to a player located closer to the kicker, between the corner and the goal area. This is usually used to move to ball away from the goal-line in order to create a better angle on the goal.
The defenders may elect to form a "wall" to attempt to force the ball to be kicked to an area they deem to be readily defencible, however must remain at least 10 yards from the ball until it is in play.
Alternative as a tie-breaker
The number of corner kicks awarded to each team has been suggested as an alternative method of tie-breaking to the current penalty shootout method. The theory behind this suggestion is that the team which during the course of play has been awarded the most corner kicks is likely to have dominated play, forcing their opponents to make more high-risk tackles and their goalkeeper to make more saves in which he was not able to gain possession of the ball but rather merely deflect it across the line outside of the goal or over the crossbar. The use of corner-kick counts as a tie-breaker has not been approved by the International Football Association Board, and as such is not used in any high-level competition.
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