Football rules

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The football rules are the official, international and national binding procedures and behaviors when carrying out the football game . The first were established by the Football Association in 1863 . As football expanded in the late 19th century, starting in England, the rules developed and refined. In 1874, the Braunschweig teacher Konrad Koch (1846–1911) laid down the first football rules in Germany.

Today, the rules are checked in annual conferences between FIFA (World Football Association ) and the International Football Association Board (IFAB) and adjusted if necessary. There are 17 rules of the game in the official FIFA rules, which were revised in 1938 and have remained essentially constant since then.

The national football associations can also issue their own instructions, which are to be viewed as guidelines for interpretation, but only apply in the area of ​​the respective football association. In addition to references to intentional interpretations of rules, such instructions regularly contain special provisions for youth games and games by "old boys" teams, occasionally also for friendship and women's games, in order to adapt the rules to the respective circumstances.

In addition to the football rules, which largely only regulate what happens on the pitch, there are further provisions in which the remaining details such as eligibility to play, but also changes to the rules such as the number of substitutes or the possibility of being substituted on, are specified are. These are competition regulations, game regulations, penalty regulations, youth regulations, referee regulations, etc.


Two teams play against each other. The aim of the game is to get the ball over the opponent's goal line, between the goal posts and under the crossbar. For the goal to be valid, the ball must have completely crossed the goal line and no rule violation by the team for which the goal is counted may have been committed since the last interruption of play, unless the rule violation was not punishable due to the benefit determination . The team that scores the most goals during the game wins.

Field players may play the ball with the whole body, except with arms and hands. Any touch of arms or hands counts as prohibited handball if, in the opinion of the referee, this is done on purpose. For example, if the ball is shot from a short distance against the “normally held” arm, the referee should not decide on handball. Goalkeepers may touch the ball with their arms and hands at any time within their team's penalty area , observing the back pass rule .

Each team must use a player as a goalkeeper who has to clearly distinguish himself in his clothing from the other players and from the referee and his assistant. A game may not begin or continue without a goalkeeper. A goalkeeper is not restricted to his own penalty area, outside the penalty area the normal rules for field players apply to him. His job is usually to prevent his opponent from scoring as a last line of defense.

The game begins with the kick-off and consists of two halves of equal duration, with a break of a maximum of 15 minutes in between. The game is interrupted when the referee blows his whistle, a goal has been scored or the ball has left the field of play. The type of game continuation depends on the reason for the interruption.

The game is directed by a referee whose job is to enforce the football rules. Almost all decisions of the referee are incontestable factual decisions , only in the case of rule violations by the referee and the assessment of further penalties after being sent off the field, the sports jurisdiction is responsible.

No player may enter or leave the field of play during the game without the consent of the referee. If he does so anyway, the player must be warned. The only exception to this principle is the offside rule when an attacking player wants to signal that he does not intervene in the game, but the player must then wait until the referee allows him to re-enter the game. If a player leaves the field of play as a result of a fight for the ball, he may enter the field again immediately without the express consent of the referee. The same applies if the field of play is left in order to bring the ball, which is no longer in the field of play, back onto the field of play when the game is interrupted (throw-in, corner kick, goal kick, free kick or penalty kick). As a rule, leaving the field of play to treat an injury is considered tacitly approved, as there is no unsportsmanlike intention, but in this case the referee must wait for the referee's consent before entering the field again. In all cases, re-entry is only permitted if the game is not in the vicinity of the intended place of entry, and re-entry during the game is only permitted via the sidelines.

The ball is always in the field of play as long as it has not completely crossed the outer lines.

Important rule changes

  • 1864: Pants must reach below the knees
  • 1866: Change of the offside rule
  • 1870: The number of players is limited to eleven
  • 1871: Handball only possible for goalkeepers
  • 1875: goals must have a crossbar
  • 1877: Expelled for gross foul play
  • 1890: Goal nets are introduced
  • 1891: Penalty after foul in the penalty area
  • 1925: Change of the offside rule
  • 1950: Shoe compulsory was introduced
  • 1967: Substitute replacement
  • 1968: Substitution of two substitute players
  • 1970: Yellow card for breaking the rules or unsportsmanlike conduct
  • 1992: return pass rule
  • 1993: Red card after a so-called " blood attack "
  • 1995: Substitution of three substitute players
  • 2013: Approval of goal-line technology
  • 2016: no more general “ triple punishment ” for an “ emergency brake ” in the penalty area
  • 2016: (initially on a trial basis) introduction of video evidence (VAR)
  • 2019: Rules for the referee ball from neutral to one-sided game continuation


Construction of a soccer field

The game is played on a rectangular field that is flat and free of obstacles. Normally the floor covering in professional football consists of turf , less often it is played on an artificial turf field and in the amateur field sometimes on a hard or ash field .

The length of the short sides ( goal line , incorrectly also baseline ) must be between 45 and 90 meters for national games, and that of the long sides ( sideline ) between 90 and 120 meters. The sideline must be longer than the goal line; a square pitch is not permitted. Theoretically, almost square playing fields would be possible, which, however, do not occur in practice. The area of ​​the playing field is therefore in the order of half a hectare to a whole hectare . For international games, dimensions of 64–75 meters for the goal line and 100–110 meters for the sideline are required. A size of 68 × 105 meters (7140 m²) is common because of the 400 m synthetic track that runs around athletics stadiums . This pitch size is now mandatory in the implementation regulations for European Cup competitions and, since 2008, also for international matches.

Area Width in m Length in m Radius in m
matchfield 45-90 90-120
Penalty area 40.32 16.50
Goal area 18.32 5.50
Center circle 9.15
Corner quarter circle 1.00
Area Height in m Length in m
goal 2.44 7.32

The playing field is usually marked by white lines (mostly lime or paint). If the ground is covered with snow, the lines can be made of a dark material. Artificial turf fields often have yellow lines. All lines must be the same width, the maximum permitted width of the lines is twelve centimeters. A minimum width for the lines is not expressly stipulated, but the recognizability must be sufficiently given so that in fact a width of five to six centimeters must not be fallen below.

There are markings for the side boundaries of the playing field including the goal line in the area of ​​the goal, the center line, the kick-off circle (also known as the center circle) with the kick-off point in the center, the penalty mark (also known as the penalty spot) and the partial circle at the penalty area (radius the circles: 9.15 meters (originally: ten yards ) around the kick-off point and penalty mark), the corner quarter circle (radius: 1 meter), the penalty area (usually known as the 16-meter area) and the goal area . Permissible and in the higher-class football standard is a marking that is placed 9.15 meters from a quarter circle at a right angle to the goal line outside the field of play, in order to be able to better monitor compliance with the prescribed distance at the corner kick.

At each corner a flag is attached to a pole that is not less than 1.50 meters high and does not taper to a point. Such a flag can be placed at the center line on either side of the field of play, but it should be outside the field of play and at least 1 meter from the sideline. The flags should be “of lively color”, bright red and yellow, monochrome or as a checkerboard pattern are common. The flagpoles are usually flexible to avoid injuries and do not represent a rigid obstacle. If snowfall during the game leads to the markings of the penalty area not being visible, eight auxiliary flags are to be placed outside the field at a distance of 1 meter from the goal and sideline To mark the penalty area where the marking lines of the penalty area meet the goal lines and the extension of the penalty area lines would meet the touch lines. If no auxiliary flags are available, also can cap are used.

Soccer goal

In the middle of each short side there is a gate . It consists of two "posts" that are connected by a "crossbar". At first they were made of squared timber ("... latte") with a square cross-section. Because of the risk of injury and the problems with wood protection, they are now generally made of aluminum or plastic and have an oval or round cross-section. The posts are one-third the width of the crossbar: the distance between the inside edges of the posts is 7.32 meters (8 yards). The bottom edge of the crossbar is 83 yards (8 feet ) from the floor. The gate must either be firmly anchored in the ground or secured against falling over in a suitable manner (e.g. with weights). The posts and crossbar must be colored silver or white. Goals are usually provided with nets that catch the ball and indicate that a goal has been scored. The fastening of the nets must be designed in such a way that a falling player cannot injure himself.

The playing field must be clearly visible. Fog can lead to the game being interrupted or even canceled. There is no precise instruction in the football rules as to when the game cannot continue due to fog. In DFB-Lehrbrief 60, however, it says that it is a “common requirement that the referee may only continue a game if he can see well from goal to goal. If he works with assistants, the referee must be able to clearly recognize their signals at all times in order to be able to make all decisions without hindrance. "If the view is restricted, for example as a result of fireworks or smoke bombs from the audience, the Referee the game if an improvement in vision can be expected within a reasonable time; otherwise the game is aborted. If a course becomes unplayable as a result of the weather, the referee should wait 30 minutes to see whether the playability is restored, unless it is foreseeable that this will not be the case; if there is reason to assume that the half-hour time limit is only marginally exceeded, the referee should act generously. If the lighting fails during a game under floodlights, it must therefore only be canceled after 30 minutes at the earliest (cancellation for any other reason can occur earlier) so that an attempt can be made to restore the lighting within this half hour. If this succeeds, the game must be continued. If the damage is only partially repaired, the referee decides whether the partially functional floodlight is sufficient to continue or whether it is canceled. Games on unlit courts are to be scheduled in such a way that there is still enough daylight even in the event of an extension.

The gradient between the two goal lines is not regulated in the football rules, only the building regulations and standards apply here, a large number of which must be observed, in Germany in particular the various parts of DIN 18 035. For drainage purposes , the center point is often the highest point of the field, between the center point and the goal line, there can be height differences of 60 to 80 centimeters; the two goal lines and the two touchlines, however, are at the same level.

Cue ball

Soccer. Circumference: 68-70 cm; Weight: 410-450 g

The soccer ball is spherical and must be made of a suitable material. Leather was traditionally used for this . Since the 1986 World Cup, however, a completely synthetic football has prevailed. The plastics used are waterproof. Possible moisture is therefore not collected in and on the ball, which was a major drawback of the leather balls. Furthermore, synthetic balls are characterized by a higher resilience, but the most important property of newer generations of plastic balls is their close proximity to a real ball. This increases the shooting accuracy to a very high degree.

A standard ball should have a circumference of 68 to 70 centimeters, weigh between 410 and 450 grams and have an overpressure of 0.6 to 1.1 bar . This size is also referred to as "size 5". In youth football, sometimes lighter (from 290 grams) and smaller balls ("size 4") are used.

If the ball bursts during play or becomes unplayable for any other reason, it will be replaced at the direction of the referee. With the new ball, play is then continued with a referee's ball from the point where the ball was damaged. Since the 2011/2012 season, a penalty kick is repeated if the ball bursts when it is taken before the ball is in goal, hits a post or crossbar or is blocked by the goalkeeper.

Until a few years ago, the game was only played with one ball, which was checked by the referee before the game began. In order to speed up the game, it is now common to place several balls on the sides, which are thrown by helpers (often also referred to as ball boys) immediately to a player in the vicinity when the ball goes out; A distinction is made between touch-out (on the touchline) and goal-out (on the goal line).

A standard ball is usually sewn. A glued ball (adidas Roteiro ) was used for the first time at the 2004 men's European championship .


Both teams must have a minimum of seven and a maximum of eleven players at the start of the game. Each player must wear a shirt with sleeves, pants, socks, shoes and shin guards. The color of the jersey and the socks must be different from the jersey and sock color of the other team. One player on each team is the goalkeeper, whose clothing must be clearly different in color from that of the other players and the referee and his assistants. It is permitted for field players to swap places with the goalkeeper during the game - if the game is interrupted - after consultation with the referee.

For youth teams, the minimum and maximum number of players can be smaller (e.g. at least five and a maximum of seven players for games on a small field, and at least six and a maximum of nine players for games on a smaller large field, especially for "D9"). There are also associations where the team size is based on the “Norwegian rule”, which means that if one team starts with fewer than the intended number of players, the other team must also reduce itself accordingly (of course only within previously determined limits).

Expulsion ( red card or yellow-red card ) and injuries (in games where the number of substitutions is limited) can reduce the number of players during the game. If the number of players falls below the minimum, the game must be abandoned.

Each team must have a team captain identified by an armband, also known as the team captain . He is the referee's contact person. This is usually an experienced player who enjoys a special trust from the coach , but he has no special rights from this position.

A maximum of three players may be changed in official competitions. Since 2018, a fourth player can be exchanged in extra time. In some competitions and leagues, as well as mostly in the youth sector, the number of substitutes is regulated differently (often four) and new substitutions are permitted.

In response to the special conditions during the 2020 corona pandemic , an exemption from the Ifab came into effect , initially until the end of the year . This allows the change of up to five players per team. The changes may take place with a maximum of three interruptions and in the half-time break. It is up to the association of the respective competition to apply the new regulation or to proceed as before. The regulation was extended on July 15, 2020 for competitions that are to be ended by July 31, 2021, up to this point in time. This regulation also applies to international competitions planned for July and August 2021.

If a team consists of fewer than seven players, the game has not been restarted since June 1, 2016 at the next interruption; only one penalty has to be taken. If the number of players falling below the minimum is only a result of treatment of injuries, the referee must ask the team captain of the decimated team whether so many players will participate in the game again that the minimum number is reached again; the game must only be abandoned if this is negated . If the fall below the minimum number of players is the result of being expelled from the field for a period of time, all players who are expelled from the field for a period of time are deemed to have taken part in the game in terms of the minimum number of players. In Germany, the rule was previously that if the decimated team was behind, the referee could cancel the game at the request of the captain of the decimated team.

Player equipment of the field players and the goalkeeper is jersey , stockings ( socks ), shin guards , shoes and shorts. Shoes with cleats , studs or cams are often worn, but this is not mandatory. The shoe only needs to be “firm” in order to rule out injuries as far as possible. Open-toe shoes such as sandals are therefore ruled out, while “street shoes” cannot be objected to.

Jewelry must be removed during a game so that it does not pose any danger to the opponent or the player himself. Depending on the weather, you can play with long or short-sleeved jerseys and, if necessary, gloves. Goalkeepers can also wear special gloves. All players can wear underpants, which must then be in the same color as the trousers. Goalkeepers generally accept long trousers, even if they do not comply with the rules under strict standards. Headscarves are also permitted, but they must not pose a risk of injury and must be either black or the main color of the jersey.

Jersey colors

The members of the individual teams must be able to be distinguished by different colors of the jerseys. In the professional sector, every team has home and away jerseys. The professional team named first in the name of the game has the right to wear the home jerseys. If the referee finds the home colors of the guests too similar, they must use their away jerseys. If the game is z. B. Germany - Argentina, the Argentines have to wear their dark blue away jersey, otherwise the light blue and white home jersey is difficult to distinguish from the white German home jersey. At Bundesliga games, the home team has the right to wear the home shirt. When these regulations did not yet exist, there were occasional problems of differentiation, for example at the 1934 World Cup , when Austria had to play against Germany in the shirts of the Neapolitan team in whose stadium the game was taking place.

In the amateur field, most of the national association's game regulations stipulate that the home team must change jerseys or play with bibs if necessary . In the lower leagues, the away team usually only comes with one kit, so that they have the de facto shirt choice and the home team has to choose a clearly distinguishable shirt.

With regard to the goalkeeper's jersey color, it must be clearly different from the colors of the jerseys of the field players of both teams, the jersey color of the opposing goalkeeper, the color of the jersey of the referee and his assistants. However, if no goalkeeper jerseys are available, the referee should allow this. In some cases at Bundesliga or international matches, for example, one or both goalkeepers wear the same jersey color as the team of referees.

Since the referees no longer only have black, but also colored jerseys to choose from, there are more and more teams that wear jerseys and pants in black. However, the color black in the DFB area is still reserved for the referees, so that in case of doubt a “black” team has to change jerseys or wear a camisole.

Direction of the game

The fourth official indicates a substitution.

Each game is led by a referee who monitors compliance with the rules. He has the right to interrupt the game at any time if a rule violation has occurred. His decisions about game situations are binding for both teams (so-called " factual decision "). In higher-class games he is supported by two assistant referees on the sidelines of the field of play, who have the right to inform the referee of a rule violation. Once a decision has been made, the referee may only change it as long as the game has not continued.

A further assistant, the so-called “ fourth official ”, is available for important international games (such as the World Cup , European Championship ) and also in the Bundesliga . Its task is to monitor the behavior of coaches, supervisors and substitutes, to handle substitutions and substitutions and to display stoppage time. At the 2006 World Cup , there was also a " fifth official ".

Use of VAR (video assistant)

The VAR system (use of video assistance) is now used in many competitions. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the temporary (exception) that VARs may not be used in current competitions up to and including July 31, 2021. If not waived, all existing provisions are to be applied without exception. It is up to the association of the respective competition to apply the new regulation or to proceed as before. This exception rule also applies to international competitions planned for July and August 2021.

Start and duration of the game

Before the game, the referee and the captains of both teams will decide who will have "choice of seat" (the right to determine which half of the field will be "own" half in the first half) and who will be the first, preferably by tossing a coin Initiate. The captain who wins the lot has the choice of deciding on one half of the field or taking the first kick, the team of the losing captain is awarded the other half.

Before the kick-off, all players, with the exception of the player who will take the kick-off, must be in their respective halves of the field. Apart from the players of the kick-off team, no other players may be in the kick-off circle.

The regular playing time in the adult area is 90 minutes, divided into two halves of 45 minutes each. There is a break of a maximum of 15 minutes between halves. At the beginning of the second half, both teams swap the sides of the pitch. The referee can determine a corresponding stoppage time due to interruptions in the game after the end of normal playing time . For young people, seniors (over 35) and the disabled, the playing time may differ from the regular playing time. The following requirements apply in Germany:

  • from A-youth 2 × 45 minutes
  • B-youth 2 × 40 minutes
  • C-youth 2 × 35 minutes
  • D-Youth 2 × 30 minutes - on a smaller large field (penalty area to penalty area) or small field (depending on association and division), for a transitional period a large field was also permitted up to and including the 2011/12 season
  • E-youth 2 × 25 minutes - on a small field
  • F-youth 2 × 20 minutes - on a small field
  • G-youth 2 × 20 minutes - on a small field

In addition, the number of players in games is reduced to a small field (usually 7) and a smaller large field (regularly 9).

For some time now, the "Norwegian rule" has been used in an increasing number of German state associations in the youth sector. This means that in a league, for example, teams with eleven players play as well as teams with only nine players. In this case, the team with the larger number of players must be reduced accordingly, and the size of the playing field is adjusted (7-man teams small, 9-man teams reduced large field).

In Switzerland, however, the following requirements apply:

  • from B-Juniors 2 × 45 minutes.
  • C-Juniors 2 × 40 minutes
  • D-Juniors play 2 × 35–40 minutes - on a small field of 9
  • E-Juniors play varying for 20–35 minutes. At 2-hour so-called (4-5 tournaments) - on a small field of 7 (regionally determined)
  • F-Juniors play varying for 20-30 minutes. At 2-hour so-called (4-5 tournaments) - on a small field of 7 (regionally determined)

In Austria it is played like this:

  • from U16: 2 × 45 minutes
  • U15: 2 × 40 minutes
  • U13: 2 × 35 minutes
  • U11 / U12: 2 × 30 minutes
  • U9 / U10: 2 × 25 minutes
  • U8: total tournament playing time 60 minutes

There is no longer a gender-specific distinction between the playing times.

Game continuations

There are different forms of game continuation. Which one to use depends on what interrupted the game. For all continuations of play except for the referee's ball, the player may only touch the ball again when any other player has touched the ball.

kicking off

After every valid goal, at the beginning of the first and second half and at the beginning of the halves of overtime, the game continues with a kick-off. For this purpose, the ball lies on the point of impact in the middle of the field of play and may only be played when the referee has released the ball with a whistle. All players must be in their respective half of the field of play; in addition, the circle around the point of kick-off may only be entered by the players of the team that is not taking the kick-off when the ball is in play.

The ball is in play as soon as it is visibly moving. The kicker may not touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player. Since June 2016, the trigger no longer has to be carried out “forward”.


If the ball leaves the field of play via one of the sideline, play continues with a throw-in for the team whose opponent last touched the ball before it crossed the sideline. When throwing in, the player must stand with both feet behind or on the sideline and throw the ball with both hands from behind the head. If the person throwing in violates this rule, the throw-in is considered false and the opponent is awarded the ball and must now take the throw-in. When throwing in, no opponent may approach the person throwing in so that the distance is less than two meters; However, if the distance is not reached, the game must be continued with an indirect free kick and the player must be given a warning. If the throw-in was not carried out in accordance with the rules, the ball is not in play, so under no circumstances can the other team be awarded an “advantage”. A goal cannot be scored directly from a throw-in. If the ball goes straight into the goal from the thrower, the game continues with a goal kick or corner kick, depending on the situation.

goal kick

If the ball is kicked by a player of the attacking team outside the goal over the goal line of the defending team, the game continues with a goal kick. To do this, the ball must be placed anywhere within the goal area. The ball is in play when the ball has been touched and is moving. All opposing players must leave the penalty area to kick.


If a defending player has last touched the ball before it has crossed his own goal line without getting into the goal, the game is continued with a corner kick (also known as a corner). To do this, the ball is placed in the area marked by a quarter circle in the corner of the playing field that is closest to the place where the ball leaves the playing field. In the corner kick, no defending player may come closer to the quarter circle around the corner flag than 9.15 meters. This distance can be marked with a short line on the goal and sideline outside the playing field. Here, too, the ball is only in play again when it has visibly moved.

Free kick

Free kick near the penalty area. For Japan (white), Nakamura (10) and Endo (7) are ready to shoot. Uzbekistan (blue) has formed a wall of five players that is supposed to cover the left side of the goal, while goalkeeper Nesterov (12, yellow) is responsible for the right side.

The free kick knows the variants of the direct and indirect execution as well as the special form of the penalty kick. A free kick or a penalty kick is awarded if there is a violation and the referee does not apply the benefit provision. Which variant is used depends on the type of rule violation. In all cases, the opponents must keep a minimum distance of 9.15 meters from the ball until it is back in play. The ball must rest before it can be executed and is only back in play when it moves, a mere touch is not enough.

In the case of free kicks from one's own penalty area, the ball is only in play when it has left the penalty area and has reached or crossed the rest of the playing field. For those in the penalty area against the defending team (these are practically only indirect free kicks), the following rule applies: If the distance to the defender's goal line is less than 9.15 meters, the defenders may also stand on the goal line in the area of ​​the goal.

Since June 2016, direct free kicks and penalty kicks have also been imposed in the event of interventions by substitutes, team officials and players who have been expelled from the field.

Direct free kick

The cases in which a direct free kick is to be imposed are usually listed exhaustively. These are essentially foul games and the unauthorized touch of the ball with the hand. If a player of the defending team commits such a rule violation in his own penalty area, a penalty must be awarded. A goal can be scored directly from a direct free kick; the same conditions apply to the free kick location and distances as for an indirect free kick. If the ball gets into the goal of the executing team from a direct free kick without any further contact by another player, the goal becomes in accordance with the general rule principle that an advantage (= free kick) must not immediately become a disadvantage (= goal against your own team) , not recognized and play continued with a corner kick for the other team.

Indirect free kick

Ebere Orji (8) takes an indirect free kick in the Women's U-20 World Cup match USA - Nigeria , which Helen Ukaonu (17)
converts to 1-1 with a shot in the top left corner of the goal .

The indirect free kick is awarded in all cases when there is a violation of the rules that cannot be punished with a direct free kick or penalty kick. These are primarily an offside position to be punished , dangerous play, violations of the back pass rule and unsporting behavior. The indirect free kick is taken where the rule violation took place (a special exception according to the rules applicable from June 1, 2016 is included in the offside rule, where there can even be an indirect free kick in one's own half of the game if the offside player goes there rushed back), whereby in the event of an infringement in the goal area, execution is moved to the point closest to the edge of the goal area. A goal cannot be scored from an indirect free kick (it must always have been touched by a second player). If the ball goes straight into the goal, a goal kick or (in the case of an own goal) a corner kick is decided. The referee signals the indirect free kick with an arm that is stretched vertically upwards and should keep it raised until a second player touches the ball, the ball has left the field of play or the game has been interrupted or ended for any other reason.

Penalty kick

The penalty kick (also known as a penalty kick or penalty shot) is always awarded if a violation of the rules that would have led to a direct free kick occurs by a defending player in his own penalty area. It differs from a direct free kick mainly in the specified point of execution and the special regulations.

Goalkeeper Bianca Henninger left the goal line in two penalty attempts by Esther Sundays in the penalty shoot-out of the U-20 World Cup match USA - Nigeria , the referee had repeated both times, Sunday was able to convert the third penalty after two missed chances.

In the case of a penalty kick, the ball is placed on the penalty mark (the penalty spot). The goalkeeper of the defending team must be inside the goal and face the shooter. In addition, until the moment when the ball moves, it may not leave the goal line. With the exception of the shooter of the attacking team, all players must remain at least 9.15 meters away from the ball until the ball is in play (the partial circle on the penalty area is used to mark this distance ). In addition, no player may be closer to the goal line than the ball. The penalty kick must be released by a whistle from the referee. The ball must be pushed forward by the shooter, but not necessarily on the goal, so that a pass in a lateral direction is allowed if it is also in the direction of the goal line. The ball is in play when it is moving. If the ball bursts while the penalty kick is being taken, the penalty kick is repeated.

Special features: A penalty kick will still be taken if the playing time has expired after it was imposed and before it was taken. In this special situation, the game is over when the penalty kick is achieved; a margin is no longer possible. The penalty kick is effective when the ball is in the goal, has left the field of play or has been blocked by the goalkeeper or has ricocheted off the goal in such a way that no goal can be created without further action. It is therefore still in the area of ​​the impact of the penalty kick if the ball initially ricochets off or is blocked, but then goes into the goal, for example through contact with the ground or the goalkeeper.

The rules for taking a penalty kick also largely apply to a penalty shoot-out .

Referee ball

If the referee interrupts the game and the rules do not provide for any other continuation of the game, the game must be continued with a referee's ball. The most common cases are the injury of a player, which the referee considers to be serious and in need of immediate treatment, external influences (e.g. third parties who are not team officials or objects on the field), the referee's error and rule violations that cannot be punished with a game penalty (free kick or penalty kick) due to the rules. In addition, the game is to be interrupted and continued with the ball of the referee if the referee or another match official touches the ball and the ball goes into the goal, the ball changes possession to the other team or a promising attack is initiated; the previous regulation that the referee and his assistants are “air”, that is, ball contact with them has no consequences, is thus repealed.

To execute the referee's ball, the referee takes the ball in his hand, lifts it to chest level and lets it fall. The ball is back in play as soon as it hits the ground. If the ball is touched by a player before it touches the ground, the referee's ball must be repeated. Only one player may take part in the execution of the ball from the referee who must come from the team that was last in possession of the ball; in his own penalty area this must be the goalkeeper. All other players on both teams must be at least four meters away from the venue. In contrast to the other continuations of play, the ball may be touched several times by the same player, even without another player having touched the ball.

No goal may be scored directly from a referee's ball; in addition, the ball must have been touched by at least two players.

Protective hand

As a special variant, many associations in women's football allow the chest to be protected by one's own hands or arms. Although, according to the rules, this is a hand game due to the unnatural hand position and should be punished accordingly (direct free kick or penalty kick), this is considered a permitted style of play, provided it is purely for protection and the ball is not played with it. This particular provision is popularly known as the “protective hand”.

Violations of rules

If a player violates the rules of the game, the referee stops the game. The continuation of play depends on the type of rule violation. According to the rules of the game, the referee should also issue a warning ( yellow card ) or expulsion ( red card ). The second warning for the same player in a game leads to a yellow-red card , some associations have a time penalty instead or in addition (especially in the youth field). There can be no personal penalties against the player for technical offenses (e.g. offside position or false throw-in).


Offside situation

The most complicated rule in football is the offside rule . An offside situation is when an attacking player is in a pass from a teammate at the moment the ball is released

  • is in the opposing half,
  • is closer to the opponent's goal line than the ball and
  • is closer to the opposing goal line than the penultimate defending player with a part of the body (not arm or hand) suitable for scoring a goal

as well as actively intervening in the game as the game progresses.

The mere stay in an offside position is no longer illegal today, people still speak of “passive offside”, although the rules only differentiate between “offside” and “no offside”. However, staying in an offside position, which is not illegal in itself, becomes a rule violation if a player actively intervenes in the game. Since the last rule change, the player must actively seek the ball, e.g. B. by participating in a duel for the ball. If several attacking players have the chance to reach the ball that has been passed forward and not all of them were in offside position at the moment the ball was released, the referee must wait to see who takes the ball in order to to be able to make the offside decision. It is also relevant when a player tries to irritate his opponent or when he takes on a duel with him. However, it is permissible and not punishable if the player only tries to reach a more favorable position without trying to get the ball.

An otherwise not punishable offside position can still be or become illegal without further action by the player if the player blocks the view of the opposing goalkeeper (counts as interference) or the ball ricochets off the goal post or the direct defense of a shot at goal Player arrives.

An offside position always exists until a "new game situation" has arisen. Each ball contact by the attacking team and each ball contact by the defending team with whom the ball was or should be played in a controlled manner is considered a new game situation - regardless of the success of the attempt, but not ball contacts such as pure ricochets or immediate goal defense actions.

"Active" offside is punished with an indirect free kick for the defending team at the place of the offense.

There is no offside position in the case of a throw-in, corner kick and a goal kick or in your own half of the field.

A goal scored during an offside situation is invalid. If the shot is fired after the whistle has been played offside, the player can be cautioned with a yellow card or sent off for delay in play.

Back pass

Regardless of the direction in which the ball is playing, a "back pass" is given if a player controls the ball by foot or by throwing it in to the goalkeeper of his own team. The goalkeeper may then not touch the ball with his hand, otherwise an indirect free kick can be recognized at the place of hand contact or, if there is contact in the goal area, at the nearest goal area border. An uncontrolled pass or a pass with another part of the body that is allowed to touch the ball - mostly with the head - is allowed, unless the rule is to be circumvented.

Benefit determination

The referee (in turquoise) indicates an advantage after a foul on a Japanese player (in blue) as Japan continues to have possession.

In the event of an offense directed against a team, the referee should allow the game to continue if a greater advantage for this team is to be expected compared to the interruption of the game, which would result from the punishment of the offense according to the rules ("advantage determination") than the game penalty ( Free kick or penalty kick). If the expected advantage does not arise after a few seconds, the referee can subsequently punish the offense, provided that no new game situation has arisen. The referee must also take other factors into account, e.g. B. whether a player would be expelled for the duration of the field.

However, if the referee allows the game to continue using the benefit provision, any personal penalties to be pronounced (warning or expulsion) must be imposed for the offense during the next interruption in the game.

An advantage can also be granted in the case of a rule violation that results in a field assignment, in order to allow a clear scoring chance. Since June 2016, however, the game has to be interrupted if the player in question comes into possession of the ball and continued with an indirect free kick for the other team after the expulsion has been pronounced. Another benefit clause also came into effect: If substitute or substituted players, team officials or players who have been sent off intervene in the game, but the ball still goes into one's own goal, the hit is recognized.

Disciplinary sanctions (warnings and evictions)

The referee must ("duty warning ") or can issue a warning for certain rule violations. He indicates this with a yellow card . The reasons for this are in particular

  • Unsportsmanlike conduct (e.g. using a trick to circumvent the back pass rule), faking a foul by the opponent (" swallow ") or "exaggerated goal celebration" (e.g. pulling a jersey over your head or wearing your head / face with a Covering the mask, climbing on the fence, but also provocative goal celebration), verbal distraction of an opponent and general verbal derailments, also offenses when taking penalties such as moving forward too early by the goalkeeper, not allowed stopping when executing or executing by a player other than the one announced to the referee (all warnings of duty)
  • repeated violations of the rules of the game (but not for technical offenses such as offside or false throw-in) - optional warning
  • Deliberate delay of the game in order to give your own team an advantage ("time game"), including delaying an awarded free kick, throw-in, etc. and shooting away the ball after the referee's whistle (all mandatory warnings)
  • Failure to keep the distance to the ball or the executing player in a standard situation (corner kick, free kick, throw-in) - principally mandatory warnings, but with exceptional situations
  • Criticism of the referee ("grumbling") and various other insubordination (failure to follow instructions by the referee, e.g. correction of equipment, removal of a piece of jewelry) - usually facultative warnings
  • Foul with the aim of disrupting the opponent's build-up of the game or of taking advantage of the interruption in the game ("tactical foul") - warning of duty
  • Entering the field of play without permission (e.g. after treating an injury) - mandatory warning

In the event of serious violations of the rules, the referee can also send the player off permanently ( red card ). Reasons for a dismissal are

  • gross foul in which the fouler at least approves of injuring his opponent,
  • violent game,
  • Assault (direct physical attack, indirect attack, e.g. by throwing the ball or an object, but also spitting on), whereby the attempt is also punished,
  • Emergency brake (technically referred to as "preventing a goal chance"), this includes handball in addition to various foul games. In the case of fouls punished with a penalty kick that occur "in the fight for the ball" and do not lead to a permanent expulsion from the field for other reasons (see previous reasons), since the rule change on June 1, 2016, only a warning is to be issued and
  • disciplinary reasons (gross insult to the referee or a match official, opponent, teammate, own or opposing team official or other persons, e.g. the audience).

In the event that a player is shown the red card, he must immediately leave the field of play and the interior; no further stay at the substitute benches is permitted. He may, however, take a seat in the spectator stands.

A yellow card also leads to a dismissal if a player is shown a yellow card for the second time in a game , which then leads to exclusion through a yellow-red card .

A dismissal with the red card is also regularly followed by consequences under sports law (fine, suspension), while a yellow-red card for the player in most cases has no further consequences other than premature exclusion from the game. In many regional associations, a yellow-red card leads to a ban for a competitive game in the same competition. In some competitions, the cautions are also counted, a certain number of cautions then also lead to a ban for a competitive game in the same competition.

Yellow and red cards can only be shown during the direct disciplinary power of the referee (from entering the pitch to check the pitch before the game to leaving the pitch after the final whistle after the game). The referee should only show these on the field of play, while warnings and reprimands outside the field of play are usually given orally. References to the field before the game mean that the player is not allowed to take part in the game, but the number of players and the number of possible substitutions remain unchanged. A warning issued before the game has the consequence that the player takes it with him into the match with all the consequences, whereas if he is “red” he no longer takes part in the game but may be replaced without affecting the number of exchange options.

The referee is also allowed to warn or expel a player who is sitting on the bench (see EM 2008, Turkey – Czech Republic ) or to expel the coach and other officials in the event of corresponding misconduct from the interior (see EM 2008, Germany– Austria ).

Particularly in the youth sector and in indoor soccer, there is often a disciplinary penalty for being expelled from the field for a limited period of time (usually two minutes in the hall and five minutes on the field). The field reference to time is issued for those rule violations for which a warning would actually be sufficient, but for educational reasons a signal seems necessary to issue a second warning (here as a substitute for the yellow-red card) or for certain offenses (in the hall e.g. the change error) is expressly provided. The time penalty is (no longer) part of the rules, but is governed by the association or league. See also blue card .

Goal scoring

A goal can be scored at any time from the current game. This is different after game interruptions. Here the rules differentiate between continuations of play from which a goal can be scored directly and those in which further contact with the ball is required. A direct goal scoring is possible from

  • an impetus,
  • a kick,
  • a corner kick,
  • a penalty kick and
  • a direct free kick.

Special cases: Before a goal can be scored, the ball must first be touched by another player after the game has restarted

  • Throw in and
  • indirect free kick.

or be touched by two other players during

It should also be noted that the ball must have been in play after the game was restarted. In the case of goal kicks and direct free kicks in one's own penalty area, this is only the case when the ball has left the penalty area. If the ball goes straight into your own goal, e.g. B. because it is driven there by the wind or ricochets off the referee, the goal kick or free kick must be repeated.

There are also restrictions regarding the presence of team officials (or an excluded player) on the field during the game. If a goal is scored and the referee detects this “unauthorized” presence at that moment, a valid hit can only be decided if the team official (or excluded player) belongs to the team against which the hit was scored. If the team to which the above persons belong scores the goal, a goal kick is to be decided. If the team to which these people do not belong hits their own goal, there is a corner kick.

Procedures for determining a winner

There are games whose competition regulations stipulate that there has to be a winner (regular cup games or games in a knockout system in tournaments). If the score of such a game is tied after regular time, there are different ways to determine a winner:

The competition regulations regulate which procedures are to be used, a combination of the various methods that build on one another is possible, but the penalty shoot-out must be the last option, as this necessarily generates a winner.

The model for decision-making, referred to as a penalty shoot-out in the rules, is carried out as far as possible in accordance with the rules for the execution of penalty kicks. If a team has more players than the opponent at the end of the game and before the penalty shoot-out, the larger team must be reduced to the number of opponents. At least five shooters per team must be nominated, who take turns taking a penalty, but only the immediate effect counts and a subsequent shot is not permitted. This procedure is carried out until one team is unassailable in the lead in relation to the five shooters. If this does not lead to a decision either, an additional player per team must shoot a penalty until one team has scored more goals with the same number of shooters. If it is necessary to fire more shots than there are players on the field per team, players may compete again.

In the past, other variants such as coin tossing, repetition and play-off games as well as golden and silver goals were used; with very rare exceptions, these variants are no longer used today.

Hall rules

Indoor soccer

For soccer games in the hall, the same rules apply as for soccer on the normal soccer field. In some important areas, however, the rules differ fundamentally. In addition, almost all state associations have their own regulations, so that only an overview can be created here, which does not have to be valid in every association. In addition, the regulations are also based on the requirements in the respective hall, there are halls with boards and “normal” halls in which handball markings are used.

The game takes place with one goalkeeper and four or five field players per team, depending on the age group. Sometimes you can do without shin guards.

In the hall there are regularly only indirect free kicks, whereby the distance to the wall is significantly reduced (often to three meters). Penalty kicks are taken from the seven-meter mark on the handball field. Goal kicks may also be taken by the goalkeeper with the hand throw, but the ball must not cross the center line, otherwise there is an indirect free kick for the opponent. The goalkeeper may only leave the penalty area to ward off an immediate attack and only play the ball directly over the center line during the game. When the ball leaves the field of play, the ball is brought back into play by rolling it in or kicking it in. A ball that touches the ceiling or devices hanging from the ceiling leads to a free kick for the opponent or is counted as leaving the field of play; sometimes it is enough to exceed a previously defined height limit in the hall.

Where there is a time penalty, this is usually two minutes, but the penalized team may complete itself if the opposing team scores a goal during this time. The punished player may only participate in the game after the penalty has expired. If a permanent expulsion is imposed, the punished player may no longer participate in the game, but his team may be completed again after conceding a goal, but at the latest after three minutes.

Often a "flying change" is allowed, i. H. A substitution may be made without the referee's consent and without interrupting the game, in return there is a substitution error. If a player enters the field before the player to be substituted has left the field, a free kick and a time penalty of two minutes as a team penalty must be imposed on the offending team. Team penalty means that the captain may choose any player to serve the time penalty, and a completion in the event of a goal is also excluded. However, this time penalty does not affect the player's “account” of disciplinary penalties.


There is a separate set of rules for futsal, which is basically identical to the soccer rules, but has some significant peculiarities. Futsal is increasingly replacing indoor football.

Subsequent changes to the results of official games

Under certain circumstances, the result of an official game ( Bundesliga , European Cup , etc.) can be changed afterwards. This happens when a team

  • causes a game to crash
  • Substitute too many players
  • replace a player who has been substituted (unless this is exceptionally permitted),
  • uses too many players with a nationality of countries outside the EU ("foreigners" or, more precisely, "non-EU foreigners"),
  • uses too many " contract amateurs " in a professional league or
  • Deploys unauthorized or banned players.

The referee should point out mistakes in substitutions before the execution, but must not prevent them or sometimes he does not know about the obstacles. In any case, the responsibility remains with the team officials.

If there is an infringement and this is reported by a team by way of an objection or, as an exception, determined "ex officio", the game is scored in favor of the opposing team ("criminal verified"), so that the team receives 3 points. There are different rules for goals in the regional associations (usually 3-0, unless the opposing team won the game with more goals or already led higher when the game was abandoned), but there are also other variants (e.g. in Bavarian FV with X: 0, which corresponds to a "0-0 victory").

In the league table, a team that has been penalized is usually ranked lower in the event of a tie (depending on the competition regulations), even if it has the better goal difference.

Rule violations by the referee

If the referee commits a rule violation that has a high probability of influencing the game scoring as lost or a draw, the disadvantaged club regularly has a right of appeal according to the regulations of the respective association. Such objections are checked by the responsible institution; usually, if the objections are justified, the game is canceled and the game is rescheduled.

It should be noted, however, that a rule violation does not mean a perception error by the referee, but a decision contrary to the rules of the game (e.g. if an indirect free kick is awarded instead of a penalty for a handball by the defender in his own penalty area).

See also

Web links

Commons : Football Rules  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. How long does a soccer field have to be? on
  2. DFB-Lehrbrief 60, p. 5: Rights and duties of the referee: The abandonment of the game .
  3. FIFA / Ifab allowed five substitutions until summer 2021. In: July 15, 2020, accessed July 15, 2020 .
  4. IFAB agrees: Five changes temporarily allowed. July 15, 2020, accessed July 15, 2020 .
  5. accessed on May 18, 2020