From offside to back pass, handball and the red card: Sports Tak presents a handbook on the rules of football
Football is as complicated as it is beautiful. The most popular sport in the world, a majority of the fans in the world are well aware of the different rules associated with the game, but there are still some rules that can be confusing to the general public. Ahead of the kick-off for the FIFA World Cup in Qatar on Sunday, November 20, Sports Tak brings to you a concise look at the basic and not-so-basic rules associated with the Beautiful Game.
Common rules of Football
A football match is played over a period of 90 mins, with 15-minute breaks 45 minutes into a game. The objective is to put more goals into the opponent team's net. There are 11 players available on the pitch, and different players are assigned different roles by the manager of the team. The main positions in a team are — Goalkeeper, defender, midfielder and centre-back. Within these positions, different roles may be assigned to the player, based on their abilities.
GOALKEEPER: Sweeper-keeper, goalkeeper.
DEFENDERS: No-nonsense centre-back (hard-tackling defender), Sweeper, left-back, left wing-back, right-back, right wing-back, inverted fullback.
MIDFIELDER: Defensive midfielder, attacking midfielder, Central midfielder, box-to-box midfielder.
FORWARD: Winger (left and right), striker, false no. 9 (second striker), centre forward, pressing forward, poacher.
The field is equally divided into two halves, and inside the field, deliberate use of the hand allows a referee to penalize a player. On each pitch, you will have a 6-yard box next to the goal mouth, an 18-yard box surrounding the 6-yard box and a centre circle. Each half of the pitch must be a mirror image of the other in terms of dimensions. If the ball leaves the dimensions of the football field (which changes from field to field) from the side, then a throw-in is awarded to the opponent team. But if the ball goes behind the goal, then a free pass from the corner is awarded to the opponent team.
In order to score a goal, the whole ball needs to be over the line for a legitimate goal. A goal can be scored with any part of the body apart from the hand or arm up to the shoulder. The goal has a frame measuring 8 feet high and 8 yards wide.
Referees and their role on the pitch
There are five referees on a field — One on-field referee, and two linesmen in either half of the pitch. The fourth referee oversees the other three, and the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) has the power to overrule any decisions taken by the other referees. And giving the referees their power is a set of two cards — The Yellow and Red card.
When a player is involved in misconduct during a game, the player will either receive a caution with a yellow card — or be dismissed from the field of play with a red card. Such instances in a match are called bookings. Once a player has been dismissed with a red card, he cannot be replaced. This also means that the team will be required to play the remainder of the game with one player less.
Another way that a player can be dismissed is if he receives two yellow cards. The referee has the discretion to do this. He can choose when to show a player the card, although sometimes they refrain from bookings early in a match. Unless the offence is a major one, most minor offences are reprimanded with caution. Multiple cautions are penalized with a yellow card, which might increase the chances of a player receiving a red card as well.
When a player is penalised for a foul, he might or might not be carded. But in every foul, a free kick is awarded to the player. If the foul is committed inside the penalty box, the opponent team is given a spot kick (free kick from six yards with only a goalkeeper to save the ball). The only instance when a free-kick is not given is when there is an offside involved.
Rule of offside
In football, offside is when an attacking player is in front of the last opponent's defender when the pass is played to them. Such a rule exists to discourage players from simply hanging around the opponent’s goal waiting for a pass. To be onside means that they are behind the last defender when the ball is played to them. A player cannot be caught offside in their own half and the goalkeeper does not count as a defender.
Many people believe that this rule spoils the game but in reality, it actually makes the sport more competitive for the players and the fans watching.
Back pass rule
Another new rule that has found it's way into the books is the back pass rule. The 1992 Euros is remembered majorly for Denmark's unbelievable performance as they went on to clinch the ultimate European title. But it is also remembered for the negative football being played all through. A back pass is when a player passes the ball back to his goalkeeper who then picks up the ball.
FIFA changed this rule of the game and prohibited the goalkeepers from picking up a deliberate back pass, changing the sport changed significantly.