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Laws of the Game

Laws of the Game

The sport of soccer (or football) is guided by 17 “Laws of the Game”. The International Football Association Board (IFAB) are the creators and gatekeepers of these laws. The organization meets regularly to review these laws and make modifications as they deem necessary. IFAB was formed in 1886 and had delegates from England, Ireland, Scotland, and Wales. Since their first meeting, IFAB is the only organization authorized to make changes to the Laws of the Game. 


The laws range from how the field should be set up to how a throw in should be taken. Here are the 17 Laws of the Game – in order as listed by IFAB:


The Field of Play

Law 1 covers how the field should be set up. It covers the dimensions, how big the penalty box can be, and how to utilize Video Assistant Referees amongst other topics. 


The Ball

As one could guess, this topic covers expectations for the ball. It covers the dimensions of the ball and what should happen if a ball becomes defective. 


The Players

Law 3 topics include how many players can be on the field, the number of substitutes, and what to do if there are too many players on the field. 


The Players’ Equipment

With player safety being important, Law 4 talks about what equipment is mandatory as well as optional items. It even covers colors. 


The Referee

Law 5 covers the expectations and authority of the referee. It also addresses referee equipment and signals as well. 


The Other Match Officials 

This Law covers the people who assist the referee in enforcing the laws of the game during the match.


The Duration of the Match

Law 7 covers the periods of the game, allowance for time lost, and other topics that relate to how long a match should be. 


The Start and Restart of the Game

This law covers kick off and what to do during a dropped ball. 


The Ball In and Out of Play

Law 9 addresses when the ball is out of play and in play. Pretty straight forward. 

Determining the Outcome of the Game

This law covers how goals are scored and how to determine the winning team. 



Law 11 determines what constitutes an offside is and is not along with the sanctions for an offside. 


Fouls and Misconduct 

This Law covers disciplinary actions including what is a direct and indirect free kick. 


Free Kicks

Speaking of free kicks, Law 13 covers the types of kicks and procedures on how they are to be taken. 


The Penalty Kick

This Law covers how a penalty kick is to be taken and how to address any offences. 


The Throw In

Law 15 covers the procedures for throw ins. 


The Goal Kick

This law covers the procedures for a goal kick. 


The Corner Kick

The last but just as important Law of the game covers the procedures for corner kicks. 


While there might “only” be 17 Laws of the Game, some of these laws do cover a lot of nuance while some are pretty straight forward such as Laws 15-17. Having a good idea of the Laws of the Game is important so that players can have a better understanding of how the game will occur. 

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