Regulations of Football
Table of Contents
The laws of football (association football) are the same as those used in the game of soccer. This guide focuses on explaining FIFA rules 2022.
Where do the rule descriptions and regulatory explanations derive from? In fact, they come from the Fédération Internationale de Football Association.
Let’s take a closer look:
FIFA is the international governing body of the seventeen laws of association football – with their headquarters established in Switzerland since 1904.
There are more than 200 members of FIFA representing different countries. In 2013, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) comprised an updated 150-page rule book.
Full definitions of soccer regulations are available on the FIFA website. You can also read the unabridged version of FIFA rules and regulations PDF 2022/23 online.
So, here’s the deal:
Our primary goal is to shoot you through the most important and basic rules and regulations in football. But, you might want to check out the promoted football teams names A to Z beforehand.
Familiarising yourself with all the clubs will ensure you are match ready for the 2022/23 English Premier League (EPL) soccer season.
Aim of the Game Football
There is one simple aim in football. The triumphant team will be the one which scores most goals at the end of play. Players score goals by kicking or heading the football ball into the goal net of the opposite team.
FIFA Regulations of Football 2022
1. Football Rules: The Field of Play
A field of play for soccer rules and regulations needs to be rectangular in shape. A playing surface should have clear and continuous marked boundary lines.
The field surface may be completely natural (e.g. grass) or it can be a green colored artificial surface (e.g. AstroTurf).
Even so, some hybrid systems actually combine artificial and natural materials and still meet FIFA field of play regulation.
The touchlines make up the two longest boundary lines of the rectangle. Whereas, the goal lines will form the two shorter boundary lines. The halfway line divides the field into two same-sized halves.
Football Pitch Measurements
- Standard touch line length should be a minimum of 90 metres and up to a maximum of 120 metres.
- Goal line width should be at least 45 metres wide, but no more than 90 metres in width.
- The distance between the white goalposts is 7.32 metres (8 yards). The lower edge of the crossbar should measure 2.44 metres to the ground (8 feet).
- The goal must be in a central position on the goal line and there needs to be one goal located at each end of the field.
- There must be a flag post and a flag positioned as boundary markers at each corner of the pitch. The four corner posts should be upright and at least 1.5 metres high (5 feet) – without a pointed top.
Note: The touchline length for international matches measures 100-110 metres and 64-75 metres for the goal lines.
Most of the elite and competitive matches will use goal line technology. In this case, the organisers of the competitions must ensure the system meets the requirements and specifications of GLT.
FIFA football laws govern commercial advertising on the field of play. Further prohibitions also apply to logos and emblems.
There needs to be a video operation room and at least one referee review area in football matches that use a Video Assistant Referee (VAR).
Note: The football equipment facts and facilities section has extra information. It overviews the rules on GLT, VAR, logos, and commercial advertising.
Note: Don’t miss our comprehensive list of rules and regulations in sport (alphabetically from American Football to Yoga) in the master section.
2. FIFA Rules: The Ball
The international standard on football ball weight and sizes comes from FIFA Law 2. Check the integrity required for all approved match balls used in association football games.
3. The Players
Before a Football Match Begins
- The basic rules and regulations in football competitions allow two teams to play against each other. The number of players in each team should not exceed eleven. One of the team members must be a goalkeeper.
- As a rule, the goalkeeper protects the goal area. The other soccer player positions include defenders, midfield players, wingers, central midfield, and attackers.
- Before any play begins, the match referee conducts a coin toss to determine which team will choose the initial direction of play.
- The maximum number of substitutes allowed in a match differs between competitions. Games played in the English Premier League allow a manager to make up to three (3) changes per game. Even so, the referee must have the names of all substitute players before the start of the match.
- One of the players must take on the role of team captain. Despite having no special privileges, the captain has some responsibility for the team’s behaviour on the field.
4. FIFA Rules and Regulations for Equipment
You play the modern game of soccer with a spherical ball made from synthetic leather (or some other composite material).
The circumference of a football ball used in official sanctioned matches must measure between 27 and 28 inches.
Furthermore, it must be correctly inflated to an appropriate pressure before the game begins (checked and confirmed by the 4th official).
Note: As a rule, soccer youth leagues would use a smaller ball being more appropriate for young children.
Players must wear a separate jersey and shorts (not one piece). They must also wear socks, shin guards, and boots (with studs or cleats for traction). Socks must completely cover the shin guards.
Important: The match referee can send a player off the pitch if they believe the soccer equipment they are wearing is unsafe or unsatisfactory.
5. Football Referee Rules and Regulations
- Match referees regulate the 17 laws of football with complete authority. The football referee rules the game while enforcing all the fundamentals.
- The officials in football use yellow and red caution cards as signals for fouls and for any unsporting behaviour.
- Foul play and misconduct results in disciplinary action admonished by the referee.
- Questioning a referee’s decision may result in further discipline. The introduction of new FIFA rules for dissent are tackling bad behaviour in the game. Nonetheless, the word of the referee is law.
- Soccer penalty kicks result from any direct free kick offence committed inside their team’s penalty area or off the field (as outlined in football laws 12 and 13).
6. Additional Match Officials
- The other football match officials involved in officiating soccer games can include:
- Two assistant referees (running the lines).
- A fourth official (overseeing player substitutions).
- Two additional assistant referees (where applicable).
- A reserve assistant referee.
- A video assistant referee (VAR).
- At least one assistant VAR (AVAR).
- The role of assistant referees is primarily for assisting the referee in performing their duties.
- Assistant officials also make signals with a flag if they see rule infringements.
- They will signal to the referee when the ball goes out of play, for fouls, or when a player moves into an offside position.
Note: The short YouTube video [7:43 seconds] explains some of the new football rules introduced by IFAB starting from the 1st of June 2019.
7. Soccer Rules: Duration of the Match
A match is played over two separate halves. Each half lasts for 45 minutes of normal playing time with a fifteen (15) minute interval at half-time.
The opposing team will restart the game with a kick-off taken at the center of the halfway line if a team scores a goal.
Extra playing time is usually imposed at the referee’s discretion for time lost due to injuries and player substitutions.
The referee can extend the half beyond 45 minutes if a player needs to take a penalty kick (or retake it). In most cases, an abandoned match would be rescheduled and replayed at a later date.
8. Starting and Restarting Play
General FIFA Football Rules and Regulation
- If a team concedes a goal, they will restart normal play with a kick-off taken from the center spot.
- A throw-in is used to restart play after the ball completely crosses a boundary touchline.
- Goal kicks restart play if the whole ball passes over the goal line outside the goalmouth after touching an attacking player.
- Corner kicks result when all of the ball crosses the goal line after making contact with a player from the defending team (if not a goal).
9. Ball In Play and Out of Play
- The ball is in play at all times unless the referee stops the game or for a short period immediately after a team scores a goal.
- The ball is out of play when:
- It has wholly passed over the goal line or touchline on the ground or in the air.
- The referee stops play for any other reason (e.g. if a player gets injured).
10. The Outcome of a Match
Scoring Goals in Soccer Rules
According to the rules of football UK, a goal results when the ball enters the goalmouth and ‘completely’ crosses the goal line.
Law 12 and the goal rules directives on soccer govern FIFA rules on goal celebrations according to the official rule book of football.
Winning a Game of English Football Rules
According to the rules and regulations for football, the team which has scored the most goals once the game is over (e.g. after the final whistle) will be declared as the winner.
But, if the scores are equal at the end of play then the match is a draw. Some football competition rules allow extra time (30 minutes) or a penalty shootout competition to determine the winner.
11. Offside Offences
The offside offence is a technical rule infraction in association football. A different section clarifies how the football offside rule ensures there are opponents between the attacking player receiving the ball and the goal.
12. Football Fouls and Sanctions for Misconduct
The referee will award a direct free kick if a player commits any of these types of football fouls:
- Jumps at an opponent
- Charges an opponent
- Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent
- Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent
- Trips or attempts to trip an opponent
- Pushes an opponent
- Holds an opponent
- Tackles an opponent
- Spits at an opponent
- Handles the ball deliberately
The direct free kick results in a penalty kick if the offence is committed by a player in their own penalty area.
An indirect free kick will be awarded if a player commits any of these fouls:
- Jumps at an opponent
- Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his/her hands
- Strikes an opponent
- Impedes the progress of an opponent
- Commits any other unmentioned offense
13. Free Kicks
There are two categories of free kick – called ‘direct’ and ‘indirect’. A player can take a direct free kick and aim it ‘directly’ into the opponent’s goal.
Note: The ball is not required to make contact with another player beforehand with direct free kicks.
14. The Penalty Kick
The referee will award a penalty kick if (either):
- A player commits a direct free kick offence inside their own penalty area.
- Off the field as part of play outlined in FIFA Laws 12 and 13.
Note: According to football penalty rules players can score a direct goal when taking penalties as a spot kick.
15. Rules and Regulations of Football Throw In
A throw in is awarded when the team in possession of the ball plays it out of bounds (over a touchline). While taking a throw-in, a player must (both):
- Release the ball with both hands simultaneously.
- Keep both feet firmly planted on the ground to avoid making a ‘foul throw’.
If these conditions are not met, play is stopped and would result in a throw-in awarded to the opposing team. Players are not allowed to score directly off a throw-in.
16. The Goal Kick in Soccer Regulations
A goal kick is awarded when the offensive team plays the ball out of bounds over the defensive team’s goal line.
After the ball is out of play, the defender or goalkeeper may place the ball anywhere within the six-yard goal box to kick the ball back into play.
17. FIFA Football Rules: The Corner Kick
A corner kick will be awarded to the offensive team when the defensive team plays the ball out of bounds over their own goal line.
The ball is placed within the marked corner area and kicked back into play by the offensive team. Players may score directly from the taking of a corner kick.
Advanced Rules and Regulations in Football
- A-Z list sports rules and regulations
- 10 basic rules of football for beginners
- Back pass rule explained and simplified
- Football questions and answers (FAQ section)
- English football teams A-Z and stadium capacity
- Soccer celebration rules
- Football red and yellow cards explained
- Roles of officials in football
- FA rules on racism (kick it out)
- Football positions UK (and numbers)
- Offside rule in football explained
- Penalty rules (FIFA Law 14)
- Football weight and specifications
- Handball in football (FIFA Law 12)
- Penalty kick technique
- Season ticket calculator (comparison chart)
- Equipment and facilities of soccer
- Soccer equipment list
- FIFA terminology of football
- FIFA football rules and regulations PDF 2022: [free download option]
English Football in the News
- Articles about sports and games making the headlines
- New FIFA football rules 2019/20 season explained [Updated]
- Arsenal gunning for UEFA rule change over drug cheats
- EFL clears Wolves’ links with soccer agent Jorge Mendes
- FIFA defends legal action on its transfer ban of minors
- Why did FIFA ban poppies on international jerseys?
- FIFA investigation at Chelsea again for signing minors
- Manchester City club whereabouts charge by the FA
- Arsenal violate agent regulations in FA rules’ breach
- Football transfer rules for Premier League clubs after Brexit