History of Soccer - History of European Football - History of Football - Soccer History - Football History - Development of Soccer


17 Laws of Soccer or European Football


There are seventeen Laws in the official Laws of the Game. The same Laws are designed to apply to all levels of football, although certain modifications for groups such as juniors, seniors or women are permitted. The Laws are often framed in broad terms, which allow flexibility in their application depending on the nature of the game. In addition to the seventeen Laws, numerous IFAB decisions and other directives contribute to the regulation of football. The Laws can be found on the official FIFA website.

The current Laws of the Game (LOTG) consist of 17 individual laws:

Law 1: The Field of Play
Law 2: The Ball
Law 3: The Number of Players
Law 4: The Players' Equipment
Law 5: The Referee
Law 6: The Assistant Referees
Law 7: The Duration of the Match
Law 8: The Start and Restart of Play
Law 9: The Ball In and Out of Play
Law 10: The Method of Scoring
Law 11: Offside
Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct
Law 13: Free Kicks
Law 14: The Penalty Kick
Law 15: The Throw-In
Law 16: The Goal Kick
Law 17: Corner kick

Today, the above 17 laws are less than 50 pages of a 5.5" by 8.5" pamphlet. This compared to other professional sports where the rule books number into the hundreds and thousands of pages. In 1997, a major revision dropped whole paragraphs and clarified many sections to simplify and strengthen the principles. These laws are written in English Common Law style and are meant to be guidelines and goals of principle that are then clarified through practice, tradition, and enforcement by the referees.

The actual law book has long contained 50 pages more of material, organized in numerous sections, that contain many diagrams but just did not seem to fit with the main 17 laws. In 2007, many of these additional sections along with much of the material from the FIFA Questions and Answers (Q&A), were restructured and put into a new Additional Instructions and Guidelines for the Referee section. This section is organized under the same 17 law points, consists of concise paragraphs and phrases like the laws themselves, and adds much clarifying material that previously was only available from National organizations and word of mouth among referees.
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