How is Football Played

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Soccer or more popularly Football, as it known outside the United States, is the world’s most popular sport followed by millions around the world. It has origins dating back to the mid 19th century, with the first ever international football game played between England and Scotland in 1872. Soccer was first played in the Olympics in the year 1900 where Great Britain won the Gold medal and France won the silver medal. FIFA is the highest governing body which takes all major decisions regarding the game.

Rules of Football


No. of players: With its increasing popularity, football as we know it has become more commercialised, but the rules of the game still remain simple and straight forward. It is a game played between two teams of 11 members each, with upto 7 substitute on the bench.

Duration : A typical football match is played for 90 minutes, two halves of 45 minutes each, with the two teams trying to score goals only by using their legs, heads and any other part of the body other than the arms

Who is the winner?: The main aim of the game is to score more goals than your opposition and the team that does so wins the game. A team is said to have scored a goal if it is able to put the ball into their opponents net, beating the goalkeeper.

Team Composition: A team usually consist of 1 goal keeper who protects his goal, 4 defenders who try to prevent the other team from scoring, 4 midfielders who build up play assisting in a goal and 2 strikers who score goals. A team can play any other formation as it wishes.

No of Substitutions : In an international match as well as the various club level matches the maximum no. of substitutions allowed is 3. But however certain friendly or pre-season warm up games can feature more no. of substitutions.

Referee : The entire game is overseen by a referee and his assistants ( linesmen) who makes sure that the game is played in the right spirit and ensure fair play

Free Kicks & Penalties

Free kickFree kick

Free Kicks: If a player touches the ball intentionally with his hand he is said to have committed a foul and the ball becomes dead. The referee then awards the opponents a free kick from which the opponent can try to score a goal or continuing to build up play. Similarly free kicks are also awarded when one player trips, impedes or injures a player.

Penalty : If any of these offenses including the handball occur with the goal keeper’s box then the referee awards the opponent a penalty. A penalty is like a free kick taken from 12 yards out, where a player tries to beat the goal keeper and score the goal. All other players are not allowed inside the goal keepers box till the kick is taken.

Indirect Freekicks and Drop Ball

Drop BallDrop Ball

Indirect Freekicks are awarded to the opposing team following “non-penal” fouls, certain technical infringements, or when play is stopped to caution or send-off an opponent without a specific foul having occurred. A goal may not be scored directly (without the ball first touching another player) from an indirect free kick.

• A drop ball occurs when the referee has stopped play for any other reason, such as a serious injury to a player, interference by an external party, or a ball becoming defective.

Yellow Cards and Redcards :

Red CardRed Card

Yellow Card : Severity of the fouls also results in cards being shown to the players. Repeated fouls may result in a player getting a yellow card.

Red Card : Harsh injury causing fouls or fouls that deny clear goal scoring opportunities can result in a direct red card. A player also gets a red card if he has committed offenses which earn him 2 yellow cards.

• If a player gets 2 yellow cards or 1 red card he is not allowed to take any more part in the game.

Role of the linesmen:


Patrolling the sidelines:

• The referee is helped by his two assistants or as they call them linesman who patrol the sidelines. The linesmen have to confirm the person who last touched the ball when it goes out of the sidelines or behind the goal keeper.

• The referee then awards the opposition a throw in or a corner depending on whether ball had gone out from the sidelines or behind the goalkeeper respectively. If the ball is kicked past the line by an opponent team the other team is awarded a goal kick.

Helping with offside, penalty and foul calls :

• The linesmen also play a very crucial role in the game as they decide if a player is offside or not.

• The linesmen also help the main referee to take decisions regarding the free kicks or the penalties. But the final decision remains with the on field referee.

What is offside?

Ofside in FootballOfside in Football

• The linesmen has to ascertain that any time when the ball is played to any player in his opponent’s half of the pitch , he is not behind the last player of the opponents team ( excluding the goalkeeper).

• If he is so, it is ruled as an offside and the opponent get a free kick. If a goal has been scored from a offside position the goal will not be counted.

Extra Time

Extra TimeExtra Time

Duration : Even if after 90 minutes of play the scores remain tied the match goes into extra time of 30 minutes, two halves of 15 minutes each.

Golden goal and Silver goal : Earlier football had followed the ‘golden goal rule’ where the first team to score in this period won. But now they adopt the silver goal rule, where regardless of any goals scored in extra time, the teams play 30 minutes and the team which has scored more goals wins.

Scores still tied : If the scores still remain tied even after 120 minutes of play there is a penalty shootout.

Penalty Shootout

Penalty shootoutPenalty shootout

• In the penalty shootout each team selects 5 kickers to try to beat the opposition goal keeper and score a goal.. The team that has scored more penalty kicks after the shootout wins the game.

• But if 5 penalty kicks are not sufficient to decide the winner, the penalty shootout goes into ‘sudden death’ and the team that scores when the other team misses wins the game


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