The Laws of the Game(LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. They are the only rules of association football subscribed to by FIFA. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalise, the frequently misinterpreted offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.
Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association is an organization which describes itself as an international governing body of association football, fútsal, beach soccer, and eFootball. FIFA is responsible for the organization of football's major international tournaments, notably the World Cup which commenced in 1930 and the Women's World Cup which commenced in 1991.
In association football, the referee is the person responsible for enforcing the Laws of the Game during the course of a match. He or she is the final decision-making authority on all facts connected with play, and is the only official on the pitch with the authority to start and stop play and impose disciplinary action against players during a match. At most levels of play the referee is assisted by two assistant referees, who are empowered to advise the referee in certain situations such as the ball leaving play or infringements of the Laws of the Game occurring out of the view of the referee; however, the assistant referees' decisions are not binding and the referee has authority to overrule an assistant referee. At higher levels of play the referee may also be assisted by a fourth official who supervises the teams' technical areas and assists the referee with administrative tasks, and, at the very highest levels, additional assistant referees and/or video assistant referees.
There were various attempts to codify the rules of football in England in the mid-19th century. The extant Laws date back to 1863 where a ruleset was formally adopted by the newly formed Football Association. The original Laws were heavily influenced by the Cambridge rules and their early development saw substantial influence from the Sheffield Rules. Over time, the Laws have been amended, and since 1886 they have been maintained by the International Football Association Board.
Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called football in certain places include association football ; gridiron football ; Australian rules football; rugby football ; and Gaelic football. These different variations of football are known as football codes.
The Football Association (FA) is the governing body of association football in England, the Crown dependencies of Jersey, Guernsey, and the Isle of Man. Formed in 1863, it is the oldest football association in the world and is responsible for overseeing all aspects of the amateur and professional game in its territory.
The Cambridge Rules are several formulations of the rules of football made at the University of Cambridge during the nineteenth century. One of these codes, dating from 1863, had a significant influence on the creation of the original laws of the game of the Football Association.
The current Laws of the Game (LOTG) consist of seventeen individual laws, each law containing several rules and directions:
A football, soccer ball, or association football ball is the ball used in the sport of association football. The name of the ball varies according to whether the sport is called "football", "soccer", or "association football". The ball's spherical shape, as well as its size, weight, and material composition, are specified by Law 2 of the Laws of the Game maintained by the International Football Association Board. Additional, more stringent, standards are specified by FIFA and subordinate governing bodies for the balls used in the competitions they sanction.
In association football, kit is the standard equipment and attire worn by players. The sport's Laws of the Game specify the minimum kit which a player must use, and also prohibit the use of anything that is dangerous to either the player or another participant. Individual competitions may stipulate further restrictions, such as regulating the size of logos displayed on shirts and stating that, in the event of a match between teams with identical or similar colours, the away team must change to different coloured attire.
In association football, an assistant referee is an official empowered with assisting the referee in enforcing the Laws of the Game during a match. Although assistants are not required under the Laws, at most organised levels of football the match officiating crew consists of the referee and at least two assistant referees. The responsibilities of the various assistant referees are listed in Law 6, "The Other Match Officials". In the current Laws the term "assistant referee" technically refers only to the two officials who generally patrol the touchlines, with the wider range of assistants to the referee given other titles.
In 1997, a major revision dropped whole paragraphs and clarified many sections to simplify and strengthen the principles. These laws are written in English Common Law style and are meant to be guidelines and goals of principle that are then clarified through practice, tradition, and enforcement by the referees.
The actual law book had long contained 50 pages more of material, organized in numerous sections, that included many diagrams but were not officially part of the main 17 laws. In 2007, many of these additional sections along with much of the material from the FIFA Questions and Answers (Q&A), were restructured and put into a new "Additional Instructions and Guidelines for the Referee" section. In the 2016/2017 revision of the Laws, the material from this section was folded into the Laws themselves.
Referees are expected to use their judgement and common sense in applying the laws; this is colloquially known as "Law 18".
The laws are administered by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). They meet at least once a year to debate and decide any changes to the text as it exists at that time. The meeting in winter generally leads to an update to the laws on 1 July of each year that take effect immediately. The laws govern all international matches and national matches of member organizations.A minimum of six of the eight seat IFAB board needs to vote to accept a rule change. Four seats are held by FIFA to represent their 200+ member Nations, with the other four going to each of the British associations (the FA representing England, the SFA representing Scotland, FAW representing Wales and the IFA representing Northern Ireland), meaning that no change can be made without FIFA's approval, but FIFA cannot change the Laws without the approval of at least two of the British governing bodies.
In the nineteenth century, the word "football" could signify a wide variety of games in which players attempted to move a ball into an opponent's goal. The first published rules of "football" were those of Rugby School (1845), which permitted extensive handling, quickly followed by the Eton field game (1847), which was much more restrictive of handling the ball. In 1848, rules were created for use at Cambridge University — but they were not published at the time, and have subsequently been lost. The first detailed sets of rules published by football clubs (rather than a school or university) were those of Sheffield FC (written 1858, published 1859) which codified a game played for 20 years until being discontinued in favour of the Football Association code, and those of Melbourne FC (1859) which are the origins of Australian rules football. By the time the Football Association met in late 1863, many different sets of rules had been published, varying widely on such questions as the extent to which the ball could be handled, the treatment of offside, the amount of physical contact allowed with opponents, and the height at which a goal could be scored.
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The first draft of the Football Association's laws, drawn up by FA's secretary Ebenezer Cobb Morley, contained many features that would today be considered closer to rugby than association football: it permitted running while holding the ball, throwing the ball to a team-mate, and "hacking" (kicking an opponent on the shin). During the Association's deliberations, however, a new version of the Cambridge rules was published that was much more restrictive of handling and physical contact.Morley and Charles W. Alcock were strongly influenced by the new Cambridge rules, making extensive changes in the final draft that was published on 5 December in Bell's Life in London and approved by the FA's members on 8 December 1863. These changes caused a split within the nascent FA, with some clubs such as Blackheath FC (which played a rugby-style game) strongly objecting to them. This led to the split between association football and rugby football which culminated in the formation of the Rugby Football Union in 1871.
Some notable differences between the 1863 laws and the modern game are listed below:
At its meeting on 8 December 1863, the FA agreed that, as reported in Bell's Life in London, John Lillywhite would publish the Laws.The first game to be played under the new rules was a 0-0 draw between Barnes and Richmond. Adoption of the laws was not universal among English football clubs. The Sheffield Rules continued to be used by many. Additionally, in preference of a more physical game with greater emphasis on handling of the ball, several decided against being part of the FA in its early years and would later form the Rugby Football Union.
Minor variations between the rules used in England (the jurisdiction of the Football Association) and the other Home Nations of the United Kingdom, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, led to the creation of the International Football Association Board to oversee the rules for all the home nations. Their first meeting was in 1886.Before this, teams from different countries had to agree to which country's rules were used before playing.
When the international football body on the continent FIFA was founded in Paris in 1904, it immediately declared that FIFA would adhere to the rules laid down by the IFAB. The growing popularity of the international game led to the admittance of FIFA representatives to the IFAB in 1913. Up until 1958, it was still possible for the British associations to vote together to impose changes against the wishes of FIFA. This changed with the adoption of the current voting system whereby FIFA's support is necessary, but not sufficient, for any amendment to pass.
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Notable amendments to the rules include:
Offside is one of the laws of association football, codified in Law 11 of the Laws of the Game. The law states that a player is in an offside position if any of their body parts, except the hands and arms, are in the opponents' half of the pitch, and closer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent. In simple terms players have to be behind the defenders at the point the ball is released
Futsal is a variant of association football played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It can be considered a version of five-a-side football.
An own goal is an event in competitive goal-scoring sports where a player scores on their own side of the playing area rather than the one defended by the opponent. Own goals sometimes result from the opponent's defensive strength, as when the player is stopped in the scoring area, but can also happen by accident. Since own goals are often added to the opponent's score, they are often an embarrassing blunder for the scoring player, but in certain sports are occasionally done for strategic reasons.
A penalty kick is a method of restarting play in association football, in which a player is allowed to take a single shot on the goal while it is defended only by the opposing team's goalkeeper. It is awarded when a foul punishable by a direct free kick is committed by a player in his or her own penalty area. The shot is taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards (11 m) from the goal line and centred between the touch lines.
In rugby football, the penalty is the main disciplinary sanction available to the referee to penalise players who commit deliberate infringements. The team who did not commit the infringement are given possession of the ball and may either kick it towards touch, attempt a place kick at goal, or tap the ball with their foot and run it. It is also sometimes used as shorthand for penalty goal.
A corner kick is the method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball goes out of play over the goal line, without a goal being scored, and having last been touched by a member of the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field of play nearest to where it went out. Corners are considered to be a reasonable goal scoring opportunity for the attacking side, though not as much as a penalty kick or a direct free kick near the edge of the penalty area.
In various sports, a professional foul is a deliberate act of foul play intended to bring about an advantage for the perpetrator's team. Professional fouls are usually committed to prevent an opponent from scoring.
A football pitch is the playing surface for the game of association football. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play". The surface can either be natural or artificial. Artificial surfaces must be green in colour. The pitch is typically made of turf (grass) or artificial turf, although amateur and recreational teams often play on dirt fields.
A goal kick, called a goalie kick in some regions, is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. Its procedure is dictated by Law 16 of the Laws of the Game.
A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of football when the ball has exited the side of the field of play.
A kick-off is the method of starting and, in some cases, restarting play in a game of association football. The rules concerning the kick-off are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.
The Sheffield Rules was a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1857 and 1877. They were devised by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for use by the newly founded Sheffield Football Club. The rules were subsequently adopted as the official rules of Sheffield Football Association upon its creation in 1867. They spread beyond the city boundaries to other clubs and associations in the north and midlands of England making them one of the most popular forms of football during the 1860s and 70s.
In the sport of association football, fouls and misconduct are acts committed by players which are deemed by the referee to be unfair and are subsequently penalized. An offense may be a foul, misconduct or both depending on the nature of the offence and the circumstances in which it occurs. Fouls and misconduct are addressed in Law 12 of the Laws of the Game.
In association football, the back-pass rule prohibits the goalkeeper from handling the ball in most cases when it is passed to them by a team-mate. It is described in Law 12, Section 2 of the Laws of the Game.
The goalkeeper, often shortened to keeper or goalie, is one of the major positions of association football. It is the most specialised position in the sport. The goalkeeper's primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. This is accomplished by the goalkeeper moving into the path of the ball and either catching it or directing it away from the vicinity of the goal line. Within the penalty area goalkeepers are able to use their hands, making them the only players on the field permitted to handle the ball. The special status of goalkeepers is indicated by them wearing different coloured kits from their teammates.
A penalty in rugby union is the main disciplinary sanction available to the referee to penalise a team who commit deliberate infringements. The team who did not commit the infringement are given possession of the ball and they may either kick it towards touch, attempt a place kick at goal, or tap the ball with their foot and run. It is also sometimes used as shorthand for penalty goal.
Comparison of association football (football/soccer) and rugby union (rugby/rugger) is possible because of the games' similarities and shared origins.
In games of association football teams compete to score the most goals during the match. A goal is scored when the ball passes completely over a goal line at each end of the field of play between two centrally positioned upright goal posts 24 feet (7.32 m) apart and underneath a horizontal crossbar at a height of 8 feet (2.44 m) — this frame is also referred to as a goal. Each team aims to score at one end of the pitch, while also preventing their opponents scoring at the other. Nets are usually attached to the goal frame to catch goalscoring balls, but the ball is not required to touch the net.
Futsal began in the 1930s in South America as a version of association football, taking elements of its parent game into an indoor format so players could still play during inclement weather. Over the years, both sports have developed, creating a situation where the two sports share common traits while also hosting various differences.