Laws of the Game (association football)

The Laws of the Game are the codified rules of association football. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalize, the offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.

There were various attempts to codify rules among the various types of football in the mid-19th century. The extant Laws date back to 1863 where a ruleset was formally adopted by the newly formed Football Association. Over time, the Laws have been amended, and since 1886 they have been maintained by the International Football Association Board (IFAB).

The Laws are the only rules of association football FIFA permits its members to use.[1] The Laws currently allow some minor optional variations which can be implemented by national football associations, including some for play at the lowest levels, but otherwise almost all organized football worldwide is played under the same ruleset. Within the United States, Major League Soccer used a distinct ruleset during the 1990s[2] and the National Federation of State High School Associations and National Collegiate Athletic Association still use rulesets that are comparable to, but different from, the IFAB Laws.[3]


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