Soccer rules are deceptively simple. The Laws of the Game, still heavily based on their forerunners from the 1860s, govern this sport worldwide, and although the intricacies can be complex you can learn the basics in literally minutes of watching the Beautiful Game.
It’s important to note that soccer does not even have rules, but rather Laws. This officious term indicates that there is something very bookish about the game, even though the actual Laws document is just a few pages long compared to some other sports. These rules are available via FIFA for any player to read for free.
The first four of soccer’s Laws of the Game relate to the mechanics. They describe the dimensions of the field (which can vary depending on whose stadium you’re at), the ball (which can also vary between 27-28 inches in circumference), the players (eleven per team), and what the players can wear (soccer jerseys, soccer shorts, soccer socks, soccer boots/cleats, and mandatory shin pads.)
Laws five and six outline the powers and responsibilities of the referees and his assistants (the latter of which are not mandatory in all leagues, but are found in pro soccer the world over.) After that, how the game is started and halted (when the referee detects an infraction, or when the ball goes out of play, or when a goal is scored) are looked at in laws seven through ten.
Then comes soccer’s offside rule, a Law so contentious it has its very own number: eleven. The offside rule in soccer can be hard to pick up, but the basics are this: if a player waits near an opponent’s goal with fewer than two opponents between him and the goalline, and the ball is played to him, he is committing an offside offence. Practically speaking, this in 99% of cases means that if a striker has only the goalkeeper to beat when the ball is kicked towards him, he will be flagged offside. (Of course, if he receives the ball onside and then runs one-on-one with the ‘keeper, he’s done nothing wrong – and will probably score!)
Laws twelve right through to the final one – seventeen – explain why the game might be stopped for a foul, and what happens when this takes place (a free-kick, either direct or indirect, depending on the severity of the offence; or even a penalty kick one-on-one with the goalkeeper), and also how throw-ins, goal kicks, and corner kicks work.
The best part is that you can read these laws in an afternoon and pick up the basics that quickly. But the best way of all is to watch a soccer game with the laws in your hand and refer to them as needed. You’ll be a soccer expert in no time.
There are various forms of soccer, ranging from micro soccer (3 a side) to the standard game of 11 a side. FIFA are the worldwide governing body for soccer, and it is FIFA who control the laws of the game that dictate how to play soccer from a rules perspective, so visit the FIFA site to get a copy of the rules and start learning the rules
By Unsplash from Pixabay