Instagram  Facebook  Twitter

FIFA Rules

The Not So Common Laws of the Game

On this page we have only outlined the Laws of the Game that are sometimes not common knowledge to all and are usually the ones always causing ambiguity. We figured why state the obvious and bore you with the basics. The majority of us take it for granted that we are aware of all the rules.

There are instances (often we may add) when we are left giving a mouth full to the referee and especially to his assistants when perhaps they were correct. So use this section to sharpen your knowledge and make sure you win that passionate debate with your friends while watching football! * We’ll keep reviewing and adding to this section as we move along.
SSE Fifa Rules

1. Dimension


The length of the touch line must be greater than the length of the goal line.

Length (touch line): minimum 90 m (100 yds)
maximum 120 m (130 yds)
Width (goal line): minimum 45 m (50 yds)
maximum 90 m (100 yds)

All lines must be of the same width, which must be not more than 12 cm (5 ins).

2. Goals


A goal must be placed on the centre of each goal line.

A goal consists of two upright posts equidistant from the corner fl agposts and joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar. The goalposts and crossbar must be made of wood, metal or other approved material. They must be square, rectangular, round or elliptical in shape and must not be dangerous to players. The distance between the posts is 7.32 m (8 yds) and the distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground is 2.44 m (8 ft).

Both goalposts and the crossbar have the same width and depth, which do not exceed 12 cm (5 ins). The goal lines must be of the same width as the goalposts and the crossbar. Nets may be attached to the goals and the ground behind the goal, provided that they are properly supported and do not interfere with the goalkeeper.

The goalposts and crossbars must be white.

3. The Field of Play

The Field of Play

The Field of Play

4. Qualities & Measurement of a Ball

Qualities & Measurement of a Ball

The ball is:

  • spherical.
  • made of leather or other suitable material.
  • of a circumference of not more than 70 cm (28 ins) and not less than 68 cm (27 ins).
  • not more than 450 g (16 oz) and not less than 410 g (14 oz) in weight at the start of the match.
  • of a pressure equal to 0.6 – 1.1 atmosphere (600 – 1,100 g/cm2) at sea level (8.5 lbs/sq in – 15.6 lbs/sq in).

5. Infringements & sanctions

Infringements & sanctions

If a substitute or substituted player enters the fi eld of play without the referee’s permission:

  • The referee stops play (although not immediately if the substitute or substituted player does not interfere with play).
  • The referee cautions him for unsporting behaviour and orders him to leave the fi eld of play.
  • If the referee has stopped play, it is restarted with an indirect free kick for the opposing team from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).

If a player changes places with the goalkeeper without the referee’s permission
before the change is made:

  • The referee allows play to continue.
  • The referee cautions the players concerned when the ball is next out of play.

In the event of any other infringements of this Law:

  • The players concerned are cautioned.
  • The match is restarted with an indirect free kick, to be taken by a player of the opposing team from the position of the ball at the time of the stoppage (see Law 13 – Position of free kick).

6. Basic Equipment

Basic Equipment

The basic compulsory equipment of a player comprises the following separate

  • a jersey or shirt with sleeves – if undergarments are worn, the colour of the sleeve must be the same main colour as the sleeve of the jersey or shirt
  • shorts – if undershorts are worn, they must be of the same main colour as the shorts
  • stockings
  • shinguards
  • footwear

7. Decisions of the Referee

Decisions of the Referee

The decisions of the referee regarding facts connected with play, including whether or not a goal is scored and the result of the match, are final.

The referee may only change a decision on realising that it is incorrect or, at his discretion, on the advice of an assistant referee or the fourth offi cial, provided that he has not restarted play or terminated the match.

8. Assistance


The assistant referees also assist the referee in controlling the match in accordance with the Laws of the Game. In particular, they may enter the fi eld of play to help control the 9.15 m (10 yds) distance.

In the event of undue interference or improper conduct, the referee will relieve an assistant referee of his duties and make a report to the appropriate authorities.

9. Periods of Play

Periods of Play

The match lasts two equal periods of 45 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed between the referee and the two teams. Any agreement to alter the duration of the periods of play (e.g. to reduce each half to 40 minutes because of insufficient light) must be made before the start of play and must comply with competition rules.

10. Penalty Kick

Penalty Kick

If a penalty kick has to be taken or retaken, the duration of either half is extended until the penalty kick is completed.

11. Abandoned Match

Abandoned Match

An abandoned match is replayed unless the competition rules provide otherwise.

12. Kick-off


A kick-off is a way of starting or restarting play :

  • at the start of the match
  • after a goal has been scored
  • at the start of the second half of the match
  • at the start of each period of extra time, where applicable A goal may be scored directly from the kick-off.

13. Dropped Ball

Dropped Ball

If, while the ball is still in play, the referee is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game, the match is restarted with a dropped ball.

Procedure :

The referee drops the ball at the place where it was located when play was stopped, unless play was stopped inside the goal area, in which case the referee drops the ball on the goal area line parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the ball was located when play was stopped.

Play restarts when the ball touches the ground.

Infringements & Sanctions :

The ball is dropped again:

  • if it is touched by a player before it makes contact with the ground
  • if the ball leaves the fi eld of play after it makes contact with the ground, without a player touching it.

14. Ball out of Play / Ball in Play

Ball out of Play / Ball in Play

Ball out of Play

The ball is out of play when:

  • it has wholly crossed the goal line or touch line whether on the ground or in the air
  • play has been stopped by the referee

Ball in Play

The ball is in play at all other times, including when:

  • it rebounds off a goalpost, crossbar or corner fl agpost and remains in the field of play
  • it rebounds off either the referee or an assistant referee when they are on the field of play

SSE Ballinplay Diagram

15. Offside / Offense / No Offense

Offside / Offense / No Offense

Offside position

It is not an offence in itself to be in an offside position.

A player is in an offside position if:

  • he is nearer to his opponents’ goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent

A player is not in an offside position if:

  • he is in his own half of the fi eld of play or
  • he is level with the second-last opponent or
  • he is level with the last two opponents


A player in an offside position is only penalised if, at the moment the ball
touches or is played by one of his team, he is, in the opinion of the referee,
involved in active play by:

  • interfering with play or
  • interfering with an opponent or
  • gaining an advantage by being in that position

No offence

There is no offside offence if a player receives the ball directly from:

  • a goal kick
  • a throw-in
  • a corner kick

16. Sending-off Offences

Sending-off Offences

A player, substitute or substituted player is sent off if he commits any of the following seven offences:

  • serious foul play
  • violent conduct
  • spitting at an opponent or any other person
  • denying the opposing team a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (this does not apply to a goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
  • denying an obvious goalscoring opportunity to an opponent moving towards the player’s goal by an offence punishable by a free kick or a penalty kick
  • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • receiving a second caution in the same match

A player, substitute or substituted player who has been sent off must leave the vicinity of the fi eld of play and the technical area.

17. Throw Ins

Throw Ins

When the ball crosses the touch line near to the assistant referee’s position, he must make a direct signal to indicate the direction of the throw-in.

When the ball crosses the touch line far from the assistant referee’s position and the throw-in decision is an obvious one, the assistant referee must also make a direct signal to indicate the direction of the throw-in.

When the ball crosses the touch line far from the assistant referee’s position but the ball appears still to be in play or if the assistant referee is in any doubt, the assistant referee must raise his flag to inform the referee that the ball is out of play, make eye contact with the referee and follow the referee’s signal.

18. Away Goals Rule

Away Goals Rule

Competition rules may provide that where teams play each other home and away, if the aggregate score is equal after the second match, any goals scored at the ground of the opposing team will count double.

19. Advantage


The referee may play advantage whenever an infringement or offence occurs.

The referee should consider the following circumstances in deciding whether to apply the advantage or stop play:

  • the severity of the offence: if the infringement warrants an expulsion, the referee must stop play and send off the player unless there is a subsequent opportunity to score a goal
  • the position where the offence was committed: the closer to the opponent’s goal, the more effective it can be
  • the chances of an immediate, promising attack
  • the atmosphere of the match

The decision to penalise the original offence must be taken within a few seconds.

If the offence warrants a caution, it must be issued at the next stoppage.

However, unless there is a clear advantage, it is recommended that the referee stops play and cautions the player immediately. If the caution is NOT issued at the next stoppage, it cannot be shown later.