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Learn The Rules Of Football

Apr 7, 2008
Without rules all you end up with on a playing pitch is a lot of confusion and too many fights. A game without rules leaves its participants wondering what they are supposed to do or how to do it. Association football has seventeen specific rule points to organize the play action. While these seventeen rules cover all aspects of play, they are written in broad enough terms to make them easily understood and yet allow the referee leeway in determining when a player has made an infraction.

The Seventeen Laws of the Game as devised by the Football Association were originally codified in 1863. While other organizations had created their own rules and practices, these were the ones that were eventually accepted by almost everyone and the basis of the rules today.

They are also the rules that hold sway in the International Football Association Board rulings. Compared to the rulebooks of other games, the fifty-page pamphlet governing association football seems small. But with the discretionary powers allowed the referee, it contains all a player needs for a full understanding of his actions.

The first few Laws of association football are concerned with the size and setup of the playing pitch, "The Field of Play", and the equipment required for the game. There are included here specific considerations for the markings on the field and even the color of the goal posts. The shape, size and weight of the spherical ball are also regulated. It codifies both professional sized balls and the various sizes used in other football venues. The Laws set out the criteria for replacing a ball during play if it has become defective due to damage or adverse weather conditions.

The maximum and minimum number of players that can make up a team are put forth as well as regulations on how and when substitutions can be made. It should be noted that substitutions are a modern refinement of the game as before the 1970's no such procedure was allowed. The rules are firmly enforced about the uniform equipment. Shirt, shorts, socks, shoes and shin guards comprise the entirety of what can be worn. No objects, including jewelry or time pieces, that could endanger a player are allowed on the pitch.

Even the shoes are regulated and spikes are verboten. Fortunately modern football shoes can have rubber molded cleats and stubs to provide better traction. The goalkeeper is required to wear a distinctly different coloration from the rest of the team as he is in a unique position from which he cannot stray.

The 5th and 6th Laws detail the duties and responsibilities of the referee and his assistants. It details what functions each performs on the pitch and the areas of authority they are allowed to rule over. Laws eight through ten are concerned with the elements of the game play. There are specifics describing how long the game may last, how this time is determined and who controls the speed of the game. These Laws determine the starting and stopping of game play and especially the methods of scoring and how the players should be positioned to make it a legitimate score.

The last seven of the Seventeen Laws detail the various penalties and violations of game and conduct and the recommended levies to be made. They describe the types of penalty kicks that are allowed, where they are placed and other errata to keep the competition flowing in a smooth and orderly fashion.
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