Soccer is one of the most popular teams’ sports today. You’ve probably heard of Major League Soccer (MLS), English Premier League, the Champions League and the FIFA world cup. These are all major tournaments of the game of soccer. A soccer game has a set of rules that governs how and when players should kick the ball around the soccer field to score goals against opposing teams and when gameplay should be stopped. Usually, the principal official of the soccer match (referee) decides when this should happen.
In Soccer you have two opposing teams trying to score goals by kicking or hitting a ball into the other team’s soccer net during the first or second half of a Soccer game which lasts for 90 minutes.(except in cases of extra time) While soccer is a very enjoyable sport to play or watch, there are some basic rules to the game that all players must follow strictly. Soccer rules are basically a means of keeping the game from becoming confused, chaotic and even dangerous.
A brief history of Soccer rules
Although Soccer has been a game with deep roots spanning from ancient to medieval and modern times, soccer wasn’t actually played following a set of rules until the year 1863.
On 26 October 1863 many amateur and semi-professional clubs out of England gathered in London and established the Football (Soccer, as we call it) Association and invented a “constitution” for the game, including a pair of standardized rules.
Obviously, the “Legislation of soccer” as they were known back then was only a pair of soccer rules and they did not cover all parts of the match. In present-day soccer, FIFA (Federation of International Football Association) makes all the rules that govern the sport. Soccer rules have been evolving gradually and started to cover more and more of this game’s fundamentals while also adapting football into the era it had been played.
A very simple case of this is the ‘Offside’ rules that were introduced later on in the match when Soccer games became increasingly more tactical. Without the offside rule, attackers would frequently play a hibernating function in the group, just staying front and waiting for the ball ahead of time, but with the new rule, they had been made to work up to the other players around the pitch.
Let’s take a look at a few of the official football rules at present and try to give a little explanation for why they’re there and how they influence the match:
Football field measurements
Because not all football pitches could reveal the specific same dimensions, FIFA (Soccer International governing body) chose a standard length and width dimension threshold for all soccer pitches to be built to make the game more playable.
As odd as it may sound, soccer can actually be performed on a square area. However, no one ever constructed that sort of pitch yet (thankfully).
The number of players
The official FIFA soccer rules state that every soccer team can enter the field with 11 starting players (Including the goalkeeper).
The number of player substitutes for a soccer team is dependent upon the contest the game is performed; however, official FIFA documents state that the number of replacements can be from 0 to 7, with 3 substitutions qualified for each of those 2 teams.
Despite that rule, in most friendly games today, the usual practice is for both teams to agree on a certain number of substitutions or go all-out and allow every available player get on the pitch at some point in the time during the game, after substituting one of their primary team members.
Ball in/out of play soccer rules
The ball is in play as long as the referee hasn’t signaled for the game to be stopped (by whistling), and play immediately stops whenever the referee whistles. The referee usually whistles to start off a new game, when the ball is no longer within the play area of the pitch or when a player has been fouled, or any other special circumstances during the game.
If a ball hits the referee, the corner flag, the ‘bar’ of the goal post, or some other object on the pitch, the match stays in play. The referee can also whistle to stop play when he notices that some players on the field are ‘off-side’ and the ball is awarded in favor of the ‘on-side’ team to start the game over with a ‘Goal-kick’
Fouls are among the most technical aspects of soccer rules today, as they may be interpreted in very many ways by different players on the field, which frequently causes disagreements on and off the pitch. However, official FIFA soccer rules state that the referee always has the final say.
However, in the quick pace of this game, it’s often hard for the referee to find out if a tackle touches the foot of the attacker or the ball. It’s still regarded as a foul even if the defending player doesn’t touch the attacking player in any way, but has a high chance of causing harm, like a high kick.
Last but not the least, the main essence of football rules and also the object of the game itself is to score goals. To score a goal, the attacking team must pass the ball beyond the other team’s goal line. The striker can kick the ball with his feet, use his head to hit the ball, or push it some way with any other part of the body except using his hands (in which case it’s considered handball).
Not many shots that end up in the net are considered goals though. A goal could be called off if a player scored after another player broke a soccer rule, such as fouling a defender or the goalkeeper, using his hands to control the ball, being offside or scoring directly from an indirect free kick.
Last Words on Soccer Rules
These are the fundamental soccer rules and although there are a few smaller twists and turns for you to learn, if you manage to understand these, you’ll have the ability to watch, play and understand a soccer match without any difficulties. Besides the offside rule, all the other official soccer rules are pretty easy to grasp.