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What are the five basic rules of football (soccer)



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Whatever the level that the game is played, there are some basic rules that apply in any football match.

Here are five of the most basic rules of the game.


The Objective

The objective of the game is to score more goals than the opposition during regular time. However, unlike some sports, there is provision in football for a match to end in a draw, either if the match finishes scoreless or the goals are shared.

Jose Mourinho

If it is a league match this would normally mean that each team claims a point. If it is a cup competition, then the match could either go to a replay, extra time and/or eventually penalties.



A football match shall consist of two teams, with the number of players that start a game not exceeding eleven, of whom one must be designated as a goalkeeper who is able to use their hands, but only in the designated area. Depending on the competition a number of substitutes are also allowed.

Read: Meaning of (W, D, L, GA, GF, MP, GD, PTS, G) abbreviations in football (soccer) league table

Each team must wear a strip that is distinctive and not too similar to that worn by the other side. Goalkeepers wear separate jerseys to their team-mates to further distinguish them.


General Play

A match consists of two halves, the duration of which should be 45 minutes each. There should be a rest interval not exceeding 15 minutes between the two halves. At the discretion of the referee, extra time should be added to the 90 minutes to allow for substitutes, injuries and other stoppages to the game.

Andres Iniesta and Anthony Reveillere Spain France Euro 2012, CC BY-SA 3.0 GFDL, via Wikimedia Commons

In addition, in cup competitions and other knock-out tournaments, 30 minutes extra time – consisting of 15 minutes each, in order to determine a winner.

In the event that there is n still no definitive result, the match may either go to penalties or to a replay.

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Fouls can be awarded for a variety of offences such as the use of excessive force, handling the ball, or unsportsmanlike behaviour. When a foul is penalised by a referee, then a free-kick will be awarded to the opposing team, which can be either direct or indirect.


A direct free kick means that a player can shoot directly at goal, whereas an indirect free kick requires another player to have touched the ball first should the ball eventually end up in the back of the net. If a direct free kick is awarded in the opposition penalty area, then the referee should award a penalty.

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Referees can hand out either yellow or red cards to players who commit fouls, depending on the severity of the offence. If a player receives a red card they have been sent off and are required to leave the field immediately. Players who have been sent off cannot be replaced.



A player is offside if there is no player between them and the goalkeeper when they receive the ball, although this can be subject to interpretation. This is to prevent the playing off long balls to a goal hanger who, otherwise, could spend an entire match in the opposition’s penalty box just waiting for the chance to have a shot at goal.

I'm a sports enthusiast, love writing about football. I have been writing about top teams in Europe, the Premier League and La Liga.




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