Soccer is a field game played with a ball and two teams. The aim is to score points by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The game is played on a rectangular field with a goal at each end. Players control the ball with their feet, knees, head, and torso. A referee and two assistant referees watch over the match. Players wear uniforms and soccer shoes with studs on the bottom. Penalties and infractions result in warnings, ejections, or free kicks. A regulation match lasts 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves. Overtime or a shootout may occur if the score is tied.
The sport of soccer, called football in most parts of the world, is a field game played with an inflated round ball. To play, two teams are assembled on a rectangular field. Each team has a door, a metal structure covered in a large mesh, which is placed behind the team members. The aim of the game is to score points by kicking the ball into the opposing team’s goal. The team with the most points wins the game, although in most cases it is possible for the game to end in a draw.
Field and equipment
A full-size regulation football field is 114.8 yards (105 m) long and 74.4 yards (68 m) wide, but many fields vary slightly in length or width. Smaller fields are typically used for youth leagues, and some leagues or organizations may use a different size. A full-size ball is about 27 to 28 inches (68 to 70 cm) in circumference and weighs 14 to 16 ounces (410 to 450 g), but youngsters usually use a smaller ball. Once made of leather, most modern soccer balls are made using 32 small panels of a waterproof synthetic material. The goal is 24 feet (7.3m) wide and 8 feet (2.4m) high, but even then, smaller goals are often used for younger players.
One of the important rules of soccer is that, with few exceptions, players may not intentionally touch the ball with their hands or arms. The goalkeeper, who is standing in front of his team’s goal and trying to prevent the ball from entering the goal, can use his hands and arms in the area in front of the goal. Also, when the ball goes out of bounds, players can use their hands to throw it back onto the playing field during a play called a throw-in. Otherwise, players generally control the ball with their feet, knees, head and torso, but mostly with their feet.
Typically, soccer is played with 11 players per team, but some variations, such as youth league or indoor soccer league matches, use fewer players. There are various names for the player positions, but they are typically divided into three groups: forwards, midfielders and defenders. The main role of forwards is to attack in an attacking manner, midfielders help control the ball for their team, and defenders help the goalkeeper prevent the opponent from scoring. At the top levels, teams have a very limited number of substitutions that can be used in a match, typically three, so most players have to play the full match. In lower-level matches or some exhibition matches, also called “friendly matches”, multiple substitutions or unlimited substitutions may be allowed.
Football kits include shirts, shorts and socks in team colors. Players also typically wear shin guards. Goalkeepers wear a different colored shirt to make them easily distinguishable from the rest of the team. They also wear special large gloves to make it easier to catch the ball. Soccer players often wear shoes with studs on the bottom, which give them better traction.
A referee watches over the match, together with two assistant referees. The referee roams the field and is the primary judge of scoring, penalties and other infractions. Each assistant referee patrols one of the touchlines and is primarily responsible for determining whether the ball goes out of bounds and which team last touched it, as well as whether a player is at fault for being offside. In some matches, a fourth umpire is positioned off the field, primarily to help with administrative duties, but may also assist the umpire in making field calls.
Penalties and Infractions
In addition to not being allowed to deliberately handle the ball, players are prohibited from doing things such as tripping, kicking, pushing or otherwise obstructing an opponent. They also cannot be involved in a play after being offside, meaning they were closer to the opposition goal line than any other opponent except the goalkeeper when the ball was kicked towards them. Unsportsmanlike conduct, including abusive language, is also prohibited. There are also technical rules of the game that players must follow, such as those regarding substitutions or positioning for certain types of plays.
The punishment for a foul, penalty or infraction depends on the seriousness of the action. For dangerous play or unsporting behaviour, a player could be shown a yellow card, which is like a warning, or a red card, which means he has been ejected from the game. Other offenses could result in the opposing team gaining possession of the ball, starting from a free kick or penalty kick. A free kick can be referred to as “direct” or “indirect”, which determines whether the player kicking the ball can kick it directly into the opponent’s goal or must instead kick it to a team-mate. On a penalty kick, a player receives a close-range shot into the opponent’s goal, with the goalkeeper being the only player allowed to try and stop it.
A regulation match lasts 90 minutes, divided into two 45-minute halves, plus any time added by the referee to compensate for injury interruptions. Each half begins with the teams occupying opposite halves of the pitch and one of the teams kicks off from the designated central point. From then on, the game clock continues to run until half-time or the end of the game.
In most games, there is a short overtime – or two short overtimes – if the score is tied at the end of regulation. During many tournaments or in other instances where ties are not acceptable, if the score is tied after overtime, a shootout takes place. In a shootout, each team has five players attempting a penalty shootout, and the team that takes the most takes the win. If both teams take the same number of penalty shoot-outs, the shoot-out continues with the teams taking one at a time until a winner is determined.