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Football/Soccer Lists


Throw ins
Dropped ball
Tournament matches
Player positions


Objective: Two teams of 11 players. Players attempt to score goals by kicking the ball in between the opposing teams goalposts. They can run with the ball, kick it, or hit it, but using the hands or arms to control the ball is not allowed. Games last for two 45 minute halves.

Players will pass (kick) the ball to each other, trying to outmanoeuvre the opposing team. Players may also tackle opposing team-members by trying to get the ball, using feet only.

Football is a truly world wide game. In some countries, it is known as Soccer. In most countries the game is called football, and it is the national sport of many of those countries.

Football is played on a large field called a pitch, presided over by a referee, and assistants. See Officials section for details.

The winning team is the team with the most goals at the end of the match. If the teams are equal on goals scored, a draw is declared. This applies in domestic football, and some international and competition fixtures.


To start the game, a coin is tossed, and the visiting captain will elect whether to kick off, or which goal to aim for (the teams change ends at the start of the second half).

The game is started when the ball is placed on the centre spot and kicked by a player from the team taking the kick off. The player who takes the first kick must not touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player from either side.

The ball must travel forward from the kick off. No player from the opposing team may be within 9.15 metres (10 yards) of the ball when it is kicked off. They must be in their half of the field, and outside the centre circle (which has a 9.15 metre radius). A goal cannot be scored from the kick off.

Play is restarted with a kick from the centre after a goal is scored (by the non-scoring team), and at the start of the second half, when the team which did not kick off to begin the game take the first kick of the second half.

When the game clock starts, it stops only if the ball goes out of play, a refereeing decision, or if a goal is scored. It is worth noting that goalkeepers can score goals the same ways as any other player.

The game can flow evenly, with the ball being passed (kicked) between players, who try to get it up the field and into the opponent's net. The ball must completely cross the goal line to count as a goal. On the line does not count as a goal, although the lines around the pitch count as the playing area, so a ball on the lines is not out of play.

More likely, one or more of the following will happen over the course of a game.


When the ball is played forward, the player who gets the ball must be in line with, or behind, at least two players from the opposing team.

To put it another way, A player is declared offside (by the line official raising a flag) if they are closer to the opponents goal line than the ball is. Unless:

- The player is in their own half (in this case, offside does not apply)

- At least two opponents are as near or nearer to their own goal line

- If a player is offside, the referee will only take action if:

- The player is interfering with play or with an opponent

- The player could gain a play advantage by being in an offside position

A player is not offside if:

- They are in an offside position, but not taking part in play (for example, not getting the ball or attempting to go for it)

- The player in an offside position is receiving a ball directly from a goal kick, free kick, or throw in

If a player is onside when the ball is played to them, but in an offside position when they actually receive it, they are not offside. In short, the player must be onside at the moment the ball is played, not when they receive it.

This rule is to prevent players waiting by the opposing goal just to knock the ball in. It also prevents games from just being contests where the ball is consistently banged from one end of the pitch to the other.

Throw in

The throw in is used to restart play when the ball has left the field across one of the side lines (touch lines). A member of the team which was not the last to touch the ball takes the throw in.

For example, if a player from Team A was the last to touch the ball (even by accident) then a player from Team B will take the throw in.

The player taking the throw in must be as close to the point where the ball left the pitch as possible. The ball is held in both hands and is thrown from behind and over the head. The player must face the pitch and have both feet on or behind the touch line when the ball is thrown.

Goals cannot be scored directly from throw ins.


Corner kicks
If any member of the defending team is the last to touch the ball before it goes over the goal line (shorter sides of the field either side of the goals), a corner is awarded to the other team.

A quarter-circle of 1 metre (1 yard) in radius is at each corner of the pitch, and it is in here that the ball is placed before the corner is taken. Players on the defending team must not be within 9.15 metres (10 yards) of the corner area before the kick is taken.

A member of the attacking team kicks the ball into play. A goal scored directly from a corner kick is valid.

Goal kick
The goal kick is used to restart play after the ball has crossed the goal line, and the last player to touch it was on the attacking team. The goalkeeper of the defending side kicks the ball out from the half of the goal area closest to where the ball left play.

The ball is not considered to be in play until it has left the penalty area. Goals cannot be scored from a goal kick, although goalkeepers can score goals the same way as any other player.

Free kick
Free kicks are awarded to a team when the opposing team has infringed the rules in some way.

Free kicks can be direct or indirect. Goals can be scored from direct free kicks. Goals cannot be scored from an indirect free kick. For both types, the player who takes the kick may not touch the ball again until another player on either side has touched it. Own goals cannot be scored from a free kick.

All free kicks are taken from the point where the offence occurred. The player who takes the kick does not have to be the one who was fouled. The defending players must be at least 9.15 metres (10 yards) from the ball when it is kicked. The side taking the kick can ignore the distance if they feel they can gain an advantage.

In all cases, the referee may simply allow play to continue if the non-offending side have or could gain an advantage by doing so.

Why would a direct free kick be awarded? There are nine main offences.

  1. kicking or attempting to kick an opponent.
  2. tripping or throwing an opponent.
  3. jumping at an opponent.
  4. charging an opponent from behind.
  5. striking or attempting to strike an opponent.
  6. holding an opponent.
  7. pushing an opponent.
  8. charging an opponent in a violent or dangerous manner.
  9. handling the ball deliberately.

Ball handling counts as carrying, striking, or propelling the ball with the hand or arm. The goalkeeper can handle the ball, but only in the penalty area.

If a player accidentally handles the ball or is struck on the hand or arm, and the referee decides that the player could not have avoided it, no foul is given.

If any of the above offences occur in the penalty area, a penalty kick may be awarded to the other team.

Why would an indirect free kick be awarded?

  1. -dangerous (not violent) play.
  2. charging fairly - but when the opponent does not have or is unable to play the ball.
  3. obstruction.
  4. charging the goalkeeper, except when the goalkeeper is in possession of the ball, or is outside the goal area.
  5. time-wasting.
  6. (goalkeeper) the ball must be released into play within six seconds of gaining possession.
  7. a player taking part in play is offside.

Penalty kick
If a serious offence is committed by a defending player in their own penalty area, a penalty may be awarded. This means that the ball is placed on the penalty spot and a player from the non-offending team can have a free kick to score a goal.

The only two players allowed in the penalty area until the ball has been kicked are the goalkeeper and the player taking the penalty. The goalkeeper must be on the line and must not move forward until the goal has been kicked, although they can move laterally (from side to side).

If the attacking side infringes any rules (for example, a non-kicking player enters the penalty area), the kick will be retaken if the penalty is scored. If the defending team infringe the rules, or both teams infringe at the same time, the kick is retaken whether it is scored or not.

A goal scored after a penalty kick has rebounded off the post does not count in international football. Different leagues may have variation where rebounded balls can be scored.

Dropped ball

When play is stopped for reasons other than a deliberate infringement of the rules, for example, an injury, the referee will restart play by dropping the ball at the place it was when play was stopped. The ball is in play as soon as it touches the ground. No player can touch it until then.

One player from each team stands on either side of the referee when the ball is dropped, and both try to get possession once it has hit the ground. Other players do not have to be 9.15 metres (10 yards) away.


The referee can take further action against a player rather than a team. Yellow and red cards are used. Two yellow cards in one match or one red card mean that player is dismissed from the game and must leave the field immediately, and take no further part in the game. The side must then play on with one player less.

Why would a player receive a card?

- Entering or leaving the field of play without the referee's permission.

- persistent infringements of the rules.

- dissent - verbal or physical disagreement with any official.

- unsporting conduct.

- any offence as outlined above for free kicks.

After a card has been shown to a player, play is restarted with a free kick.

Tournament matches

Away goals

When league teams play each other and the score is equal after each team has played the other in their home ground, the winner is the team which scored most goals away from home.

For example, if a game is played at the Team A ground, and finishes 0-0, then the second leg is played at the Team B ground and finishes 1-1, then Team A would be the winners, because they would have scored one goal away from home, Team B having scored none away from home.

Competition matches such as World Cup, UEFA Cup, and so on, are matches where a winner must be decided for the purposes of a knockout competition - where the winners continue to the next stage, and the losers are out altogether.

If the score is level after ordinary play and injury time, there is a short five or ten minute break, then a period of extra time which lasts for half an hour, fifteen minutes each way, with the teams switching sides in between. Anything that happens in extra time (goals, substitutions, bookings, sending-offs) applies for the rest of the game.

Extra time can work in one of two ways:

- Golden goal - where the first team to score win, and the game ends instantly.

- Standard extra time, followed by a penalty shoot-out.

A penalty shoot out consists of each team taking five penalties each. The team which scores the most penalties wins. If the score after ten penalties is level, another five are taken by each team, and this continues until a team has won.

All penalties do not have to be taken by each side if a winner has been decided before.

For example: Team A score 4 penalties. Team B score 2. This game is over because even if Team B scored their remaining penalty, and Team A miss, the score would be 4-3 to Team A, and Team B would lose anyway.

Goal difference

This is used in leagues, where teams are level on points, the difference between goals scored and conceded is taken into account.

For example, if a team has scored 25 goals and conceded 14, their goal difference is 11. If a team has scored 45 and conceded 51 their goal difference is -6.

It is the team with the superior goal difference who are placed higher, not the team who have scored the most goals.

Player positions

The standard numbering system for shirts is as follows:

1 - goalkeeper
2 - full back (defender)
3 - full back (defender)
4 - midfielder/defender
5 - central defender
6 - midfielder/defender
7 - forward/midfielder
8 - striker/defender
9- striker
10 - striker/defender
11- forward/midfielder
12 upwards - substitutes

Playing formations are numbered according to how many players are in each position from back to front. The goalkeeper is always in goal so is not counted.

The 4-4-2 formation consists of four in defence, four in midfield, and two strikers.

The 4-3-3 formation consists of four in defence, and two players in midfield and defence, and often the other two players will move between midfield and attacking positions.

There are many formations and strategies, on which a specific football site would have more information.

Formation terms

Flat back four - a set four players in defence.

Sweeper - when a defensive player plays behind the other defenders, 'sweeping' from one side to the other.


The referee is neutral, and has full authority on the field. The referee makes all disciplinary decisions and keeps the time of the game. The referee can over-rule any decision of the line officials.

Linesmen/Line officials
There are two line officials, one on each touchline at opposite ends of the pitch. They are neutral, and are qualified referees in their own right. They assist the referee is making decisions, such as whether a ball has gone out for a corner kick, goal kick, or throw in, offsides, and so on.


The pitch

The playing surface is usually grass, but it can be an artificial surface. The pitch dimensions are between 90 and 120 metres (100 and 130 yards) long and 45 to 90 metres (50 to 100 yards) wide. The length must always exceed the width - no square pitches!

In the corners, there are flags, a minimum of 1.5 metres (5 feet) high. There are also flags at each end of the centre line. The centre spot is enclosed by a circle 9.15 meters (10 yards) in radius.

The goals are positioned in the centre of the goal line. A rectangle extends forward from the goal 5.5 metres (6 yards). This is called the goal area (marked in yellow on the diagram below).

Goal area

The goal area is enclosed within the penalty area. The penalty area extends 16.5 metres (18 yards) forward from the goal. The width of the goal area is 18 metres (20 yards).

Penalty area

The penalty spot is marked 11 metres (12 yards) from the goal line, central to the goal. The arc which follows the penalty area has a radius of 9.15 metres (10 yards). The width of the penalty area is 40 metres (44 yards).

The ball is round and made of leather or synthetic substances. Its circumference should be between 68 and 71 centimetres (27 to 28 inches), and should weigh between 396 and 453 grammes (14 and 16 ounces).

Each goal consists of two upright posts placed 7.32 metres (8 yards) apart, and joined by a crossbar at a height of 2.44 metres (8 feet). The posts and crossbar are usually white and made or wood or tubular metal. They are no more than 12 centimetres (5 inches) wide. A net is fixed to the back of the goal.


Football/Soccer Lists


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