Organized soccer is played according to a set of rules known as the Laws of the Game. These rules are designed to ensure that the game is fair and safe for all participants.
The Laws of the Game are divided into two main sections: general rules and specific rules. The general rules apply to all aspects of the game, including the players, the referee, and the field of play. The specific rules are designed to govern the actual gameplay, such as how the ball is moved around the field and how goals are scored.
There are 17 laws in total.
- The field of play: The field of play must be a flat, level surface made of natural or artificial turf. It must be rectangular in shape and marked with lines to delineate the boundaries. The dimensions of the field can vary, but it must be between 100 and 130 yards long and 50 and 100 yards wide.
- The ball: The soccer ball must be spherical in shape and made of leather or another approved material. It must be inflated to a pressure of 12-16 pounds per square inch.
- The players: Each soccer team must have 11 players, including the goalkeeper. A game can still be played with as few as 7 players per team. Any substitutions must be told to the referee.
- Players Equipment- The rules of soccer say that players must wear basic equipment. This includes a jersey, shorts, socks covering shin guards, and footwear. Goalkeepers must wear a distinguishing uniform.
- The referee: The referee is the official who presides over the game and enforces the Laws of the Game. They are assisted by two linesmen, who help to keep track of the ball and the players.
- Assistant Referees- The assistant soccer referees help enforce The Laws of the Game. Their main job is to signal offsides.
- The duration of the game: The soccer game is divided into two halves, each lasting 45 minutes. There is a half-time break of 15 minutes between the two halves. If the score is tied at the end of regulation time, there may be extra time (i.e., overtime) played to determine a winner.
- The start and restart of play: Play is started with a kick-off, which takes place at the center of the field. The team that did not score the last goal will take the kick-off. From then on, the team that scores a goal will kick-off to restart play.
- The ball in and out of play: The ball is out of play whenever it goes over the touchline or the goal line. It is also out of play if it hits the referee or linesman, or if a player touches it with their hand (unless they are the goalkeeper within their own penalty area).
- Scoringl: A soccer goal is scored when the ball goes into the opposition's net, between the goal posts and under the crossbar. A team scores one point for each goal scored.
- Offside: A player is in an offside position if they are closer to the opposition's goal line than both the ball and the second-last defender. They are only considered offside if they are in this position at the moment that the ball is played by a teammate. If they are not in an offside position, they cannot be called offside even if they eventually end up in one. A player cannot be penalized for being in an offside position, but they can be penalized for other activities while in an offside position. For example, a player in an offside position cannot be in the way of a defender trying to play the ball, or they can be called for obstruction.
- Fouls and misconduct: A foul is any infraction of the Laws of the Game that results in a stop to play. A free kick is awarded to the opposing team when a foul is committed by the other team. A free kick can be direct, meaning that a goal can be scored directly from it, or indirect, meaning that a goal cannot be scored directly from it. Misconduct is any behavior that is not in line with the spirit of the game. It can result in a player being given a yellow or red card. A yellow card is a caution and results in a player being given a warning. A red card is a sending-off and results in a player being ejected from the game. Two yellow cards to the same player results in an automatic red card.
- The free kick: A free kick is awarded when a team commits a foul outside of their own penalty area. The kick is taken from the spot where the foul occurred.
- The penalty kick: A penalty kick is awarded when a team commits a foul within their own penalty area. The kick is taken from the penalty spot, 12 yards from the goal line. The goalkeeper must stay on their line until the ball is kicked.
- The throw-in: A throw-in is awarded to the team that did not touch the ball last when the ball goes out of play over the touchline. The ball is thrown in from the point where it went out of play. The thrower must use both hands and must not take a step forward while throwing the ball.
- The goal kick: A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the attacking team last touches the ball before it goes over the goal line. The ball is placed inside the goal area and must be kicked outside of it before it can be touched by another player.
- The corner kick: A corner kick is awarded when the ball goes out of play over the goal line after being last touched by the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field.
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