Football is a very intriguing game. Of all sport disciplines in the world, football commands the most attention from people. The number of people who stay glued to their TV sets during world cup or European champions league matches is usually amazing. Just like any other game, there are rules governing the game of football. These rules are evolving with time. There has been elimination some rules and introduction of new rules. In yester years, three corner kicks will result to a penalty, but that rule was Later eliminated.
FIFA has introduced the goal line technology and the Video Assistant referee to ensure that fraud is brought down to its barest minimum. It is because of this evolvement that football has stayed quite appealing through time. Before we get to the crux of the matter it suffices that we get a brief understanding of what the game of football is all about.
Just like most other ball games the aim of football is to outsmart your opponent by scoring goals within the time frame of 90 minutes, though in some extreme cases the game goes beyond 90 minutes. The game is segmented into two halves of 45 minutes each. After the first 45 minutes players rest for 15 minutes. Usually within this 45 minutes the referee sometimes adds time to the normal 45 minutes depending on the time wasted on the pitch. Each team is made up of 11 players, with one goal keeper and 10 other outfield players. The field of play measures around 120 yards long and 75 yards wide though these dimensions may vary depending on the ground. The pitch is dissected to into two equal halves. Having known some basic football rules, let’s look into the regulations of football or the basic football rules.
The pitch Design: One of the regulations of football is that the pitch must be made of either natural or artificial grass. Usually the turf is green and is marked with rectangular shape that sets the limit of the field. This implies that if the ball goes out of the field of play then the side that touched the ball last will suffer from the disadvantage of a throw in from their opponent. The size of the field as earlier mentioned must vary from at least 100-130 yards long and 50-100 yards wide. The field equally consist of six-yard boxes and two 18-yard boxes and a centre circle.
The Match officials: Another basic football rule is that each game must be sanctioned by one referee and two lines men, otherwise known as assistant referees. The referee is the overall boss in any match. He or she acts like the time keeper and equally sanctions players in case of any foul play. So, decisions pertaining to penalties, throw in, free kicks and perhaps injury time are made by the referee. The assisting referee equally aids the central referee in taking some crucial decisions.
The recent introduction of Video Assistant Referee has made the job of the central referee as well as assistant referees much easier than before. The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) monitors fouls that may sometimes not be noticed by central referee or the lines men. Though the technology has reduced controversy in the game of football, this technology itself is viewed by many as a controversy itself. Some people believe the VAR has reduced the drama and fun that use to surround the game of football since games are sometimes stopped to get the final say from the VAR. In case of say a penalty, the central referee must ensure that all the players except penalty shooter is inside the penalty box.
The nature if ball used: Furthermore, another regulation of football is that the ball must be round and probably made from leather or some other material of that nature. Usually the circumference of the ball is 27 to 28 inches. In some cases, smaller sized balls are used in youth competitions but generally official FIFA sanctioned matches at the senior level makes use of the officially recommended ball which is 27-28 inches. There is usually more than one ball in the field of play so much so that waste of time is minimized in case the one in the field goes out.
Numer of players for each team: Another soccer for beginners’ rule is that the team in the field of play has a maximum of 11 players. That is, both teams have 11 players each. Generally, if one of the tams cannot provide at least 7 players at the start of the match, then that team has automatically lost the match. The 11 players have their designated rules and must often than not their rules in the field is determined by the coach based on his philosophy. The goal keeper is the only player that can touch the ball with the hands and can only do so within the confines of the ring. In FIFA sanctioned matches each of the teams can only make three changes at most. This rule for playing football is abrogated only during friendly matches where a team can make changes even up to the eleventh player depending on the prior agreement the teams have with the referee. Generally, there are usually 11 reserved players for substitution.
Sport attire: One of the basic football rules pertains to the players equipment. All players must wear a jersey, shorts, shin guards, sucks and cleats. That is not all about football equipment, the socks, it should be noted must cover the shin guard which protect your leg in case of any physical contact. The jerseys of the two teams playing must be substantially different from each other to avoid confusion. The referee has got the discretion to send out a player from the field if he deems his equipment unsatisfactory. The equipment of football has indeed change over time. In the 70s and 80s players wore pant-like shorts and sleeveless jerseys. Now, the shorts are much more longer, and the jerseys have sleeves that sometimes extend to the level of the hand, depending on the player’s discretion. The goalkeeper must wear a different attire from that of the other 10 players on the pitch. Players are forbidden to possess any communication equipment in the field. Players are not allowed to wear jewellery of any type. For this reason, any jewellery is considered dangerous to other players.
Timing: Another basic football rule is that the duration of any football match must be 90 minutes. The first and second segments of the game run for 45 minutes each and time is usually added at the end of every 45 minutes, depending on the referee’s judgement. The two segments are separated by a half time during which players rest and take instructions from their coaches. In some cases, the match goes beyond 90 minutes. This is generally in games like finals where one of the opponents must win but the game ends up in a draw in the regular play time. 30 minutes is usually added, and if any of the two teams fail to score, the winner would be determined by penalty shoot outs
The start and restart of play. The commencement of any match is normally determined by a coin toss. The winning team decides whether to start with the ball or not and which goal they would like to attack. The losing teams is then accorded the side which the winning team choose not to take. Kick-off equally occurs after every goal scored and at the start of each half. If a team scores, the team which concedes the goal is given the kick-off to restart the match. All players should be at their respective halves before the restart of the game.
Another rule for playing football defines when the ball is in play and when the ball is out of play. If the ball rolls across the touchline, the referee signals for a throw in. This throw is usually to the disadvantage of the team that touched the ball last. Generally, the player effecting the throw is supposed to stand on the touchline before throwing the ball into the field of play. The referee could equally signal in case of a bad throw during which the opposing team is given the advantage to throw in the ball. If the ball goes out of the field of play at the goal keeping width of the field it would either be a goal kick or corner depending on of the side that touched the ball last.
The ball must entirely cross the goal line for it to be considered a goal. Controversies regarding this issue has been solved by the Gaol Line Technology system. So, at the end of the match the team with most goals is considered the winner and if both teams fail to score a goal then the match is considered a draw.
Offsides: The offside regulation of football restricts attacking players from scoring if they are in front of the last defender or player. Offsides are usually very common in any football match, this case players are discouraged from waiting at the half of their opponents to score. You must drive the ball pass the defenders before proceeding to scoring a goal. By implication the last player must be at the same level or behind the defender. This rule prevents players from just waiting the ball at their opponent’s half.
Eligibility: Another regulation of football is that teams are not allowed to fill in ineligible players. A player is deemed ineligible under the following conditions
-If the player in question had earlier received a red card
-if the player’s name is not on the roster
-If the player is out of age as specified by the league
-If the player’s name appears in two rosters in the same league
The dos and the don’ts of footballers
Having outlined the basic rules of football, it is important to look at the rules for playing football at the individual level. How should a player conduct his or herself in the field, what should the player do or not do when he is in the field of play? Therefore, we will look at issues related to fouls and misconduct by players in the field of play. A direct or an indirect free kick is awarded to one of the teams in case of an offence committed when the ball is in play.
Direct free kick and indirect kick: A direct free kick is awarded at the discretion of the referee but before doing that the referee must take into consideration if the offence was committed carelessly or recklessly or if the offending player used excessive force on his opponent. A direct kick could also be awarded when a player tries to hold or even holds his opponent, pushes his opponent, bites or spits at someone, when a player throws an object at the ball or better still when a player handles the ball deliberately. In the occasion of any free kick, the penalised team is expected to give the kicker at least five yards. If a player tries to stop the free kick say within three yards, that may amount to a yellow card.
Handling the ball here is an intentional act of a player contacting the ball with the hand. Before awarding a direct kick, the referee must make sure that the player that touched the ball with the hand did so intentionally. The goal keeper is restricted from handling the ball outside the penalty area. A penalty could also be given if a player happens to commit any of the above offences during a football match. This time around the player who suffers from the offense should be at the penalty box of his opponent before a penalty is given. The penalty kick is taken two yards from the goal line and only two players can be in the penalty area, that is the kicker of the penalty and the goal keeper. It is only when the penalty is kicked that the other players can get into the penalty area. The goal keeper is equally expected to stand on the goal line before the ball is kicked.
A direct kick is awarded under the following conditions
- In case of a foul that is at the disadvantage of the opponent’s play.
- Preventing the opposing goalkeeper from releasing the ball
- Obstructing an opponent
- wasting time
On the other hand, a direct kick is awarded under the following conditions
-Intentionally kicking an opponent
-Making unsafe contact with the opponent before the ball when tackling
-If a player deliberately touches the ball with his hands
-If a player spits on an opponent
-If a player holds an opponent
Disciplinary punitive action: Like any other sport discipline in the world punitive measures to prevent their actors from breaking the rules of the game are put in place, so too is football. They are part of basic foottball rules. In hand ball for example, a player can be sent off from the field of play to spend say 2 to 3 minutes after committing a foul. Breaking the rules for playing football attracts either a red card or a yellow card. The referee has the right to take disciplinary actions against a player before and during the game.
There are two kinds of fouls, a penal and technical foul. A yellow card is like a warning to a player while the red card is a punitive measure for a hardy player. A red card signals a send-off. It should equally be noted that two yellow cards amount to a red card. When a player is given a red card, he is not expected to be within the confines of the field. Mosts times the player is banned from two matches when he receives a red card. It should be noted that a player who is sent out of the field of play because of red cannot be replaced. The number of match ban a player receives is equally determined by the magnitude of the fault he committed.
Some players have been slammed three months match ban. A good example is Luiz Suarez, a Uruguay international who was slammed 3 moths match ban after biting a player. Sanctions could equally be slammed on a player in form of fines. Generally, there are no laws that apply to punishments in all football competitions or tournaments. FIFA for example has held that a red card for instance should amount to at least a match ban, that could only be appealed in the event of mistaken identity.
On a general note, players are not allowed to remove their jerseys during the match. This is very common especially when a player scores a goal. If a player does so he will be given a yellow card. This is not all about football rules, players are not equally allowed to celebrate their goals in a provocative manner. Many players have been penalised because of such actions.
Players are not also allowed to celebrate their goals in such a way that could breach safety measures especially on the part of the fans. Leaving the field to celebrate a goal is not bad but players must return to the field as soon as possible. In this light, players are equally restricted from reacting, especially violently from provocations that may come from the fans. Many players such as Samuel Etoo have been victims of racist chants. Causing unnecessary delays, such as appearing to take a throw-in but suddenly leaving to a team mate to take, delaying to leave the pitch when substituted, touching a ball after the referee has stopped play, or taking a free kick from a wrong position to force a retake.
We have discussed all about football rules with regards to the conduct of players as well as the regulations of football from a general point of view. Obviously, you will be asking yourself why we have not talked about the conduct of the coach as well as that of the fans, otherwise known as the 12th player. There are equally regulations of football that touch the above-mentioned individuals. Let’s begin with the coach who is the manager of his team.
The coach as earlier mentioned is the overall boss of the team and what the players do in the field is greatly influenced by the coach. So, the coach has some responsibilities toward the players
The coach must take into consideration the safety of his players. This means that the coach must not prioritise winning a game over the safety of any of his players. Winning should be the fruit of preparations as well as discipline. Coaches should not appear to promote malice. They must tell their players to follow the rules for playing football. They must promote sportsmanship.
During a football match a coach is not allowed to put pressure of any kind on the referee or the linesman. He is not equally allowed to provoke the opposing coach for any reason. That is why during football matches coaches have their confines and they are not expected to go beyond their bounds. Some coaches have been sanctioned because of unacceptable behaviour during football matches. Coaches like Jose Mourinho have been sanctioned and even given match ban for unruly behaviour.
The role of the fans cannot be undermined. These set of people in the football family have a set of rules and responsibilities to follow. It has been noticed of recent that fans over step their bounds during football matches. One of such issue is chanting offensive songs, provoking players on the field of play or being aggressive to opposing fans. So fans are restricted from involving themselves into any of the above mentioned potentially dangerous behaviours. Many countries and clubs have paid heavy fines for chanting racist chant against some players. Most African players have been victims of “Monkey chants”. FIFA and other football governing bodies have tried as much as possible to eliminate such unruly behaviour from the part of the fans. It should be noted that fans are not allowed to enter the field of play or throw any thing in the fieild when the match is still going on for whatever reason.
We have seen regulations of football or the rules for playing football as outlined above. These may not be all about football rules, I believe some of us have the intentions of taking soccer as a profession, so you may discover some of the rules for playing football in your professional life as a footballer. The basic football rules keep evolving with time, so this piece may not be able to help you know all about football. These basic soccer for beginners rules or rules for playing football are however very important for novices.