Football/Soccer Rules & How to Play Football

Football/Soccer Rules & How To Play Football
Football/Soccer Rules & How To Play Football. (Photo credit:

Widely considered to be the most popular sport, football (soccer as many know it) whose roots can be traced to ancient China, Greece and Rome, was finally transitioned to the modern-day soccer which has attracted over 265 million players cheered on by 4 billion fans worldwide by the English men. Unlike sports like basketball, where an inventor listed stipulated rules which form the bedrock of the rules guiding international games, football/soccer rules emerged from the rapid evolution of the sport which was largely influenced by the English. To fully understand the rules, how to play football should also be understood.

How to Play Football/Soccer

The Objective of the Game

The objective of football is to score as more goals as possible against the opponent.


Football is primarily governed by the Federation of International Football Association (FIFA), which makes the rules of the game. On the field of play, the game is moderated by the referee who is assisted by two linesmen who are in charge of deciding corner kicks and offsides. In recent years, there are have been the addition of a fourth official, the video referee who is in charge of the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) a newly employed method which helps to reduce disputes and errors in games. Captains of both teams can appeal any decision by the referee who in turn communicates with the video referee or goes to have a look at the replay by the VAR before handing a verdict in the game.

Teams, Players & Player Position

Each football team is made up of 11 players, 10 outfield players and one goalkeeper. Player position in football largely dependent on the team’s formation. The goalkeeper is the primary defence force, the goalkeeper is assisted by the defenders, the centre back guards the penalty area and the full-back on either the left or right side help in attacking. The wingback is also a defensive midfield position employed when teams adopt the 3-5-2 formation or full defensive role in the 5-3-2 formation. The centre midfielder acts as the bridge between the forwards and the defenders. The defensive midfielder who stands in front of the defender helps in the defensive role while the attacking midfielder acts as a pivot to the forwards. The wide midfielder on either left or right side often called wingers helps in ball distribution. The centre forward is the main man of the team saddled with the responsibility to score and is assisted by a second forward as well as the wingers.


Football (Soccer) Equipment
Football (Soccer) Equipment. (Photo credit:

Players of the same team are equipped with matching outfits, socks, shin guards, soccer cleats. The goalkeeper wears a glove along with the other gears.


A team is awarded a goal when the ball is successfully placed inside the opponent goal post.


At the end of the duration of the game, the team with most goals emerges the winner. Depending on the sort of game itself at the end of 90 minutes if a tie exists, the match ends, but in crucial stages of competitive tournaments the game further extends by 30 minutes called extra time, two halves of 15 minutes. If at the end of the extra time, a tie still exists, a penalty shootout ensues where the team with most goals emerges the winner.

Football/Soccer Rules

There are 17 rules that form the basis of the football rule. They are as follows:

  1. The field of play should be made of natural or artificial grass, not with a combination of both. The field must also be rectangular with markings at appropriate locations in line with FIFA dimensional standards such as the 10-yard radius circle in the centre and 18-yard boxes at both ends of the field.
  2. The ball must be spherical and must be between 27-28 inches and weigh between 410-450 gram at the start of the match. All balls must bear the FIFA Quality PRO, FIFA Quality or IMS – International Match Standard.
  3. Players must be 11 from both teams with one goalkeeper each. The number of substitution of a player is determined by the tournament organizing body but must be at a maximum of five.
  4. Players must wear a shirt with sleeve, knickers, socks, shin guard and boots. Electronic devices and pieces of jewellery are disallowed.
  5. The referee acts as the supreme authority in the match and makes a decision in line with the laws of the game.
  6. The referee assistants include the two assistant referees (linesmen), another two assistant referees, video assistant referee VAR) and an assistant video assistant referee (AVAR).
  7. A match duration should be 90 minutes with two 45 minutes halves. There should be an addition of time as deemed fit by the referee for time lost in each half. At the end of the first 45 minutes, there should be a 15 minutes interval before play is resumed.
  8. The game is started by kickoff at the beginning of both halves or extra time or when a goal is scored. At the start of the match, the team that wins the toss of coins selects his goal to defend and changes at the beginning of the other half. Opponent players must be 10 yards away from the ball until it is played.
  9. The ball is out of play when it passes the goal line or the touchline or when the referee stops play
  10. A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes the goal line between the goalposts and under the crossbar as far as no foul has been committed by the offensive team.
  11. A player is in an offside position when part of his head, body and leg is nearer to the opponent goalpost than the ball and the last opponent outfield player.
  12. A foul is called when there is a deliberate or reckless force in tackles, jumps or a player holds an opponent, bites or kick an opponent or interferes with the ball by means of the hand or any object thrown at the ball.
  13. Free kicks are given to the opponent if a player commits a foul.
  14. The penalty is awarded if a player commits a foul in the penalty area. The goalkeeper must stay on the goal line without touching the goalposts or cross back before the ball is played. Players must be 10 yards from the penalty mark when penalty are being taken.
  15. Throw-in is given to the opponent when a player touches the ball before it passes the touchline. The ball cannot be thrown directly into the goalpost during throw-ins. Player handling throw-ins must have their feet on the touchline or outside the touchline and must be facing the field.
  16. A goal kick is given when the ball passes the goal line after it touches the opponent player. The opponent must be outside the 18-yard box during goal kicks.
  17. A corner kick is given to the offensive team when the ball passes the goal line after it was last touched by the defensive team. The opponent must be 1 yard from the corner arc during corner kicks.

Facts Check

At, we strive for fairness and accuracy. If you have concerns about something that doesn’t look right in this article about Football/Soccer Rules & How to Play Football, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

Leave a Reply