Football Rules

By Suzanna Hulmes

Football (called soccer in the United States) is a game made up of two teams of eleven players each. The object of the game is for each team to try and score more goals than the opposition. A goal is scored when one team manages to get the ball into the marked area defended by a member of the opposition called a goalie. The game lasts 90 minutes overall, although this is split into two halves of 45 minutes. Injury time can also be added onto the end of the match. The current rules or "laws of the game" are regulated by FIFA (Federation Internationale de Football Association) and domestic football associations.


For a player to score a goal, he must have both the goalie and another player from the opposite team between him and the goal before someone can pass him the ball. If this is not the case and the player is passed the ball and scores, he is in an offside position and the goal does not count.


A foul is the penalty given to one player purposefully sabotaging another in a physical way, such as kicking. When a foul occurs the team of the affected player are awarded a free kick, apart from if the foul took place in the penalty area, and then a penalty kick is awarded. When a free kick is taken the opposition must be at least 10 paces away from the individual taking it. A penalty kick is when one player is given a free kick toward the goal from the penalty spot, with only the goalkeeper between the player and the goal. The player who made the foul can be given a yellow card as a warning, or if the incident is deemed serious enough, the offender is given a red card, which means she is expelled from the match.


If the ball goes over the line and off the marked pitch, a throw-in is awarded to the opposite team of the one who last touched the ball. The throw-in consists of a player throwing the ball back into the field of play using both hands and holding the ball behind his head as a starting position. If the player does not throw in the correct way, it is deemed a foul throw, and the throw-in is then given to the other team. The deliverer is not allowed to pass directly to the goalkeeper.

Hand ball

The goalkeeper is the only member of a team who is allowed to handle the ball during play, and this must only occur in the goalie's team's penalty area. Despite this the goalie is not allowed to touch the ball with his hands if it has been passed back to him by a member of his own team. In this case he can only use his feet or his head to contact the ball. If any other player touches the ball with a hand, this is against the rules and as a consequence, a free kick will be given to the other team.


Each team has the option to bring on a maximum of three substitutes during a game. These players are chosen beforehand should they be needed to supplement the team. For a substitute to join the game, the referee must be notified and there must be a break in play in order for the swap to be made.

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