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 Soccer Rules – An Introduction (Part 2)

 This is the 2nd part of a 3 part series on the 17 basic rules in the game of soccer

6. The Assistant Referees – The assistant referees are placed on the sides of the pitch (one each) and their main role is to help the main referee with some decisions. Actually, the assistant referee has no decision power, he can only signal a game issue (an offside, a foul, handball and so forth) but it’s up to the central ref if he’s or she is going to take up the assistant’s advice.

7. The Duration of the Match – Standard adult games are limited by the official soccer rules to two halves of 45 minutes each, separated by a 15 minutes break. This is not the actual time of play, since this 90 minute clock ticks even when the ball is out of play, during substitutions and so forth. In order to try to balance this timing a bit, the end of each half also brings a few minutes of “injury time” on the table.

In some cases, when the match must have a winner (a knockout match for example), two extra mini-periods of 15 minutes each, with no break between them are added. If the match is tied at the end of extra time as well, the players go on for a penalty-shootout that will eventually decide the winner.

8. The Start and Restart of Play – There are 8 reasons for which the game can be stopped and similarly, 8 ways to restart it. Each period of time starts with a kick-off (1) and the game is also restarted with a kick-off if a team scores a goal. If the ball goes out on the side lines, the player who last touched the ball conceded a throw-in (2). The game is restarted with the other team throwing the ball back into play.
The goal kick (3) is awarded to the defending team, if the attacking team took the ball out of play on the defending team’s goal line. The game is restarted with the goalkeeper kicking it from within the safety box. If the defending team touches the ball last and it goes over their own goal line, outside of the goal itself, then the opposing team earns a corner kick (4) and they will be required to restart the game from the corner nearest to where the ball went out.
An indirect free kick (5) is awarded when a team produces a non-penal foul (dangerous play or offside for example) and the game is restarted with a ground kick that cannot be taken towards goal (if a player scores directly from an indirect free kick, without another player touching the ball, the goal won’t stand). A direct free kick (6) is caused by a foul or handball and unlike the indirect free kick it can be struck directly towards the goal.
A penalty kick (7) is similar to a direct free kick in that it is caused by a foul or handball, but the offence occurs inside the defending team’s penalty area. The game is restarted with one of the attacking team’s players shooting for goal from the penalty spot (11 meters, perpendicularly on goal), with nothing but a goalkeeper to beat.

The last of these eight soccer rules is rarer and it’s called the dropped ball (8). The dropped ball occurs when the referee stops the game for a special reason (an injured player, ball becoming defective or the interference of an external factor) and the game is restarted with him dropping the ball from shoulder height in front of two players who will battle for possession (sort of how basketball matches decide initial possession).

9. Ball In and Out of Play – According to the official soccer rules, the ball is in play all throughout the match duration, except when it passes a boundary line (goal lines and touch lines), when an offence occurs or when play is stopped by the referee. In these particular cases, the ball is out of play and the soccer players cannot score goals or interact with the ball. In addition, substitutions can only occur when the ball is out of play according to the rules for the game of soccer.

10. The Methods of ScoringAs long as the ball is in play and no infringements of any soccer rules are being made, the players can score goals. A goal is considered when the ball crosses one of the goal areas with its entire circumference. Goals can be scored from play action, from penalty spots and direct free kicks.

Don’t forget to catch the last installment in The Rules of The Game (Part 3)

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