Main football rules and regulations (2023)

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What are the 17 rules of football? A newbie’s companion to understanding the basic soccer rules & regulations.

Main football rules and regulations (1)

The main objective of soccer is to score a goal with any part of the body except the arms and hands. There are 17 Laws of the Game to ensure order and fairness in play. These were formulated by FIFA, the highest governing body of football in the world. The laws were mostly based on the first set of rules formulated by the Football Association, England’s football body, in 1863. Below are the 17 Laws of the Game.

Soccer rule 1: Field of Play

Main football rules and regulations (2)

The field of play must be between 90 and 120 meters long (100-131 yards) and between 45 to 90 meters wide (49-98 yards). In international games, the football field dimensions are 100-110 meters (109-120 yards) and 64-75 meters (70-82 yards).

The following areas of the football field must be marked: touchlines/sidelines, goal lines & goal areas, halfway line, center circle, penalty areas, arcs, & spots, and corner arcs. A flag post should be planted on each corner of the field.

Soccer rule 2: The Ball

Main football rules and regulations (3)

The soccer ball’s diameter must be 8.6 to 9 inches (22 to 23 cm) and must weigh 14 to 16 oz (400 to 450 grams). If it bursts while in play, the game is stopped and resumed by the referee dropping the ball between two players from opposing sides.

Soccer rule 3: Number of players

Main football rules and regulations (4)

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A football match is played by two teams of no more than eleven players each, with one player per side playing a goalkeeper. The minimum number of players in a soccer team is seven.

A match is not started or continued if there are less than seven players in a team. In official football competitions, the maximum number of substitutions is three. However, in friendly tournaments, there can be as many as six or unlimited substitutions, depending on what each side have agreed on together with the referee.

Soccer rule 4: Player’s equipment

Main football rules and regulations (5)

The following soccer equipments are required of each player: a shirt, shorts, socks, shin guards, and football boots. Goalkeepers from both sides should wear a kit that will distinguish them from the outfield players and the referees. Players are allowed to wear head gears but are discouraged from wearing most forms of jewelry.

Soccer rule 5: Head referee

Main football rules and regulations (6)

The duties and responsibilities of the head referee in soccer include: ensuring that players wear the proper strip and equipment, signaling the start and end of game, citing and punishing violations of rules, stopping play if a player requires medical attention, deciding whether or not to continue a game, and keeping time.

The referee cites fouls and infringement of the rules and prevents repeated occurrences of unsportsmanlike conduct by cautioning players with a yellow card or sending them off with a red card. Two yellow cards in football is equivalent to a red card. A player who receives a red card in football cannot be replaced so his team must continue the game with one man less.

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Soccer rule 6: Assistant referees

Main football rules and regulations (7)

The role of assistant referees in football or linesmen is primarily to assist the main referee by signaling for corner kicks, throw-ins, and violations of the offside law.

They may also bring to the referee’s attention the infringements that he has not noticed of. However, it is always the head referee who has the final word.

Soccer rule 7: Match duration

Main football rules and regulations (8)

The length of a soccer match is 90 minutes, played in two equal halves of 45 minutes. Additional minutes in a soccer game may be played at the end of each half to compensate for lost time during the game.

The added minutes are called “injury period” and should not be confused with the overtime, which is played in some competition if a winner is not yet decided after regulation time.

Soccer rule 8: Start/restart of play

Main football rules and regulations (9)

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A kickoff starts a football game and restarts it at the second half or after a goal is scored. The team which kicks off the ball at the beginning of the match is determined by a coin toss.

During the kickoff in football, only two players are allowed inside the center circle: the one kicking and the one receiving the ball.

Soccer rule 9: Ball in and out of play

Main football rules and regulations (10)

The soccer ball is out of bounds when it has crossed the goal line or touchline whether on the ground or in air. If it rebounds off the referee, an assistant referee, a goal post, crossbar, or corner flag post and remains inside the field, then it is still in play.

Soccer rule 10: Method of scoring

Main football rules and regulations (11)

A goal is scored in football if the ball crosses the goal line between the two goalposts and under the crossbar, as long as no violation of the rules has taken place. The side that scores the most goals wins. If both teams have the same number of goals at the end of the match, it is considered a draw even if neither of them scored a goal.

Soccer rule 11: Offside

Main football rules and regulations (12)

A player is in offside position if there are fewer than two defenders (including the goalie) between him and the goal line. A violation of the offside rule in football occurs if he is in that position and the ball is played to him. A free kick is awarded to the opposition if a player is caught offside.

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Soccer rule 12: Fouls and misconducts

Main football rules and regulations (13)

The following are the most common fouls in football: kicking, tripping, pushing, or charging another player recklessly; striking or attempting to strike an opponent or any member of the opposing side. A foul is called if a player: makes a tackle but hits the player before the ball; deliberately handles the ball (except the goalkeeper in his proper area); or if he uses excessive force in defending an opponent.

Soccer rule 13: Free kicks

Main football rules and regulations (14)

A free-kick in football restarts a play after a foul or rule infringement is committed and is usually taken from the spot where the violation was committed. A free-kick can either be “direct”, in which a kicker may score directly, or “indirect”, in which another player must touch the ball before a goal can be scored.

Soccer rule 14: Penalty kick

Main football rules and regulations (15)

A penalty kick in football is awarded if a defender commits a foul inside his own penalty area. The kick is taken from the penalty spot and all the players (except the kicker and the goalkeeper) must be outside the penalty area and penalty arc.

Soccer rule 15: Throw-in

Main football rules and regulations (16)

A throw-in in football is awarded to a team if the ball goes over the touchline. It is awarded to the team opposing the side that touched the ball last. The throw is taken from the spot where the ball goes out of bounds. The taker must throw the ball with both hands, both feet on the ground, and facing the field of play.

Soccer rule 16: Goal kick

Main football rules and regulations (17)

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A goal-kick in football is awarded to the defending team if the opposing team causes the ball to go over the goal-line. Any player from the defending side is allowed to take the goal kick. It must be taken anywhere on the goal area and must go beyond the penalty area or it will be retaken. The ball must be touched by another player before the taker can play it again.

Soccer rule 17: Corner kick

Main football rules and regulations (18)

A corner kick in football is awarded to the attacking team if an opposing player is the last to touch the ball before it goes out of bounds on the goal-line. The attacking team resumes play by placing the ball in the corner arc nearest to where it crossed the goal line.


How many rules are there in American football? ›

Technically, there are 17 rules listed in the 2013 NFL rulebook. Those 17 rules, however, are spread out in tiny type over a 121-page document in PDF form. That should give you some idea of the nuance now inherent in playing, administering and managing an NFL game.

What is football and its rules? ›

Football, also called association football or soccer, is a game involving two teams of 11 players who try to maneuver the ball into the other team's goal without using their hands or arms. The team that scores more goals wins. Football is the world's most popular ball game in numbers of participants and spectators.

What is the golden rule in football? ›

The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, lacrosse, field hockey, and ice hockey to decide the winner of a match (typically a knock-out match) in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death.

What is the 3pm rule in football? ›

A little-known clause of Article 48 is that it requires 50 per cent of matches in England's top two divisions to kick off at 3pm for it to come into effect. That means that during the international break, for example, clubs in League One and Two could actually broadcast matches at that time.

What is not allowed in football? ›

Facemask: To protect the football players, it is illegal to grab another player's facemask. Roughing the Passer or Kicker: To protect kickers and quarterbacks, who are very vulnerable when they are passing or kicking the ball, players are not allowed to run into them after the ball has been thrown or kicked.

What is the most important thing in football? ›

Passing Accuracy. Passing accuracy is one of the most fundamental skills in a football game. The feet should always have the power and accuracy to pass the ball either to your teammates or to the strikers for a goal. Passing skill is the one ultimate skill and football is devoid of an accurate and precise pass.

What is illegal in American football? ›

Intentional grounding. Illegal forward pass beyond the line of scrimmage. Throwing a backwards pass out of bounds. Any other intentional act by the offense that causes the clock to stop.

How long is a football game? ›

Football games last for a total of 60 minutes in professional and college play and are divided into two halves of 30 minutes and four quarters of 15 minutes. High school football games are 48 minutes in length with two halves of 24 minutes and four quarters of 12 minutes.

What are 3 rules of ultimate football? ›

Players must have at least one foot inbounds when making any catch. Any offensive player can receive the ball in the end zone. All passes can be forward, lateral, or behind the passer. Shovel passes are allowed anywhere on the field.

What are 3 facts about football? ›

Here are five things even avid football players may not have known about the sport.
  • Football is a pretty young sport. American football was invented in 1882, making it only 136 years old. ...
  • It's not all talent. ...
  • College balls and professional balls are different. ...
  • Football-shaped is not a shape. ...
  • History of the huddle.

What are the 4 fundamentals of football? ›

8 fundamental skills you need to develop to become a better football player
  • Passing and receiving.
  • Shooting.
  • Decision making.
  • Dribbling.
  • Heading.
  • Touch and ball control.
  • Skills and tricks.
  • Running off the ball.
Jan 19, 2022

What are the 6 fouls in football? ›

Types of Fouls
  • Kicking an opponent.
  • Tripping.
  • Jumping into an opponent (like when you are going for a header)
  • Charging into an opponent.
  • Pushing.
  • Tackling from behind.
  • Tackling an opponent and you make contact with the player prior to making contact with the ball.
  • Holding.

What is Rule 11 in football? ›

A player is in an offside position if: any part of the head, body or feet is in the opponents' half (excluding the halfway line) and. any part of the head, body or feet is nearer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.

What is the rule of 14 in football? ›

A penalty kick is awarded if a player commits a direct free kick offence inside their penalty area or off the field as part of play as outlined in Laws 12 and 13. A goal may be scored directly from a penalty kick.

What is the red card rule in football? ›

A red card is shown by a referee to signify that a player must be sent off. A player who has been sent off is required to leave the field of play immediately, must take no further part in the game and cannot be replaced by a substitute, forcing their team to play with one fewer player.

What is the 12th Rule of football? ›

Any player who lunges at an opponent in challenging for the ball from the front, from the side or from behind using one or both legs, with excessive force or endangers the safety of an opponent is guilty of serious foul play.

What is the 17 rule of football? ›

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

What is the blackout rule? ›

The football blackout is the rule that no Premier League, Football League or FA Cup matches be broadcast on live television on Saturday between 2:45pm and 5:15pm.

What is the 6 second rule in football? ›

The six second rule came as an amendment to FIFA's Law 12 back in 1998, which states that “a goalkeeper is not permitted to keep control of the ball in his hands for more than six seconds.”

Is 69 allowed in football? ›

In the NFL, however, regulations stipulate that offensive linemen can only select a number between 60 and 79 and defensive lineman must pick one between 60 and 79 or 90 and 99. As a result, more than a few players over the years have rocked the sex number.

What are football shoes called? ›

Football boots, called cleats or soccer shoes in North America, are an item of footwear worn when playing association football. Those designed for grass pitches have studs on the outsole to aid grip.

What's the best position in football? ›

1: Quarterback. There's no doubt what the most important position on the field is: quarterback. Only the quarterback touches the ball on every offensive snap, and only the quarterback is the triggerman for the passing game. No other player can do more to win—or lose—a professional football game.

What is the best strategy in football? ›

One of the main strategies of football defenses against the pass is the blitz. This is when a player that would normally not rush the passer, rushes the passer. This may be a defensive back or a line backer. Many teams change up who is blitzing and how many players are blitzing nearly every play.

What is the best skill in football? ›

The top 10 best football skills
  • The Maradona Turn. The Maradona Turn is something every player practices and its beauty comes from the simplicity of it. ...
  • The Cruyff Turn. ...
  • The Scissor Kick. ...
  • The Rabona. ...
  • The Elastico. ...
  • The Pullback V. ...
  • The Rainbow or the Okocha Flick. ...
  • The Knuckleball Free Kick.
Apr 4, 2022

Is it illegal for a girl to play in the NFL? ›

The league lacks a professional female player in its almost century-long existence. It thus begs the question: can women play in the Gridiron? The simple answer is yes. Yes, women can play in the National Football League, as there is no rule that prevents them from doing so.

Can you tackle anyone in football? ›

Defensive holding (5 yards, automatic first down) - A defensive player may not tackle, hold, or throw down an offensive player other than the ball carrier. This penalty is often called on defensive backs who impede the progress of a receiver.

Can you tackle someone's legs in football? ›

A tackle must only contact below the shoulders and above the knees, and a player is able to be thrown to the ground, so long as the tackle is deemed not to be reckless or likely to cause injury. There are also rules outlawing pushing in the back making tackling more difficult.

How much do NFL referees make? ›

How much does an NFL ref get paid in the regular season? The NFL does not release salary figures for referees but, according to Sporting News, the highest paid NFL refs make $250,000 annually. NFL referees on average usually make about $205,000 per year.

Why is it called football? ›

The exact etymology of the word “football” is slightly unclear, but many historians say the term dates back to the late Middle Ages, when it was used to refer to any sport that was played on foot, as opposed to sports played on horseback.

Why do Americans call it football? ›

It was until much later (1906) that forward passing was allowed. So because the American game was really just another form of the European football games, it too became known as football.

What are 3 points in football called? ›

Touchdown: 6 points. Field Goal: 3 points. Safety: 2 points. Try after touchdown: 1 point (Field Goal or Safety) or 2 points (Touchdown)

What is the 13 rule of the game? ›

13. The side making the most goals in that time shall be declared the winner. In case of a draw, the game may, by agreement of the captains, be continued until another goal is made.

What does 3rd & 7 mean in football? ›

3rd and 7 is an American football play call that means the team is third down and seven yards from the end zone. The quarterback will then hand off to the running back, who will attempt to score a touchdown.

How many positions are in football? ›

Football positions. As for the 11 players on the pitch, they can be broadly divided into four positions – goalkeeper, defenders, midfielders and forwards.

What was football originally called? ›

Linguistically creative students at the University of Oxford in the 1880s distinguished between the sports of “rugger” (rugby football) and “assoccer” (association football). The latter term was further shortened to “soccer” (sometimes spelled “socker”), and the name quickly spread beyond the campus.

What are 5 fun facts about football? ›

  • Football Facts Infographics.
  • American Football Evolved from Soccer and Rugby. ...
  • The First Football Game Was Played in 1869 Between Rutgers and Princeton. ...
  • Football Is the Most Popular Game in the United States. ...
  • The NFL Governs Professional Play in the United States. ...
  • The Super Bowl Is the Championship NFL Football Game.
Jun 7, 2022

What is the 6 law of football? ›

Other match officials (two assistant referees, fourth official, two additional assistant referees, reserve assistant referee, video assistant referee (VAR) and at least one assistant VAR (AVAR)) may be appointed to matches.

What are 3 rules of a football game? ›

Football Players

The rules in football allow each team to have eleven players on the field at a time. Teams may substitute players between plays with no restrictions. Each team must start a play on their side of the ball.


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