Friday, 13 June 2014

World Cup: The Basics of Football

To a lot of us in this part of the world, the basic rules of football are ingrained in us from birth - whether we want them there or not. It is easily the most popular sport, with a lot of media coverage, and as a result even those who don't take much interest know something about what the game entails.

For some of you reading this, it's a sport that isn't all that popular where you are, and Sarah at Venus Trapped in Mars (the host of Fan Friday, duh) has been saying for ages that I should do a post with the basics. So, today I am going to do exactly that!

Learn the basic rules of the beautiful game
Image source

- A match is played in two halves of 45 minutes. Half time (the period between each half) lasts 15 minutes.

- Each team consists of eleven players on the pitch at any one time.

- The match is officiated by a referee and two linesmen (assistant referees). The linesmen assist the referee in making decisions such as offsides and goal kicks or throw ins. The referee acts as time keeper and is responsible for making the final decisions.

- Each team consists of a goalkeeper (the only player allowed to use their hands, and only within the confines of the box which marks the goal area), defenders (also known as full backs, left backs or right backs depending on their position), midfielders (may also be called wingers) and forwards (strikers).

- There are a number of ways of penalising unfair play. The offending team may find that their opponents are awarded a free kick, which means that they are allowed to take the kick with no form of defence or challenge against it. If a player commits a more serious offence, he may be issued with a yellow card, which is a stern warning. If a player is issued with two yellow cards over the course of a game, or commits a very serious offence, he may be given a red card and dismissed. This puts his team at a disadvantage as they have to play the rest of the game without their full contingent of players.

- A maximum of three substitutes may be used in any match. Before the game, the manager will choose which eleven players will start, and up to seven to sit "on the bench" as possible substitutes. Once a player on the pitch has been substituted, he cannot return to the field of play.

- The aim is to score goals by getting the ball past your opponent's goalkeeper and into the net. The whole ball must cross the line in order for it to count.

- If the ball goes out of play on the side lines, the opposing team to the last player to come in contact with it is given a throw in i.e. they throw the ball back on to the field of play. If it goes out of play behind the goal line, the return to play depends on who the ball last touched. If it comes off a defending player, the attacking team will be given a corner kick. If it comes off an attacking player, the defending team are awarded a goal kick.

- When the game being played is in a knockout tournament, if the score is level after 90 minutes of play, the game will go to extra time. This is played in two 15-minute halves.

- If, after the extra 30 minutes, the score is still level, the game goes to penalties. Initially, each team will take 5 penalties and if there is a leader at that point, that team wins. If the number of penalties scored is equal, then it becomes "sudden death" (and believe me, if your team is involved in this, it is soooo nerve-wracking!)

Now pay close attention to this last point, because this is important. For some reason, the offside rule is regarded as being complex, and it has been known for men to dismiss women's interest in football because they don't understand it. This is sexist, and above all it's just plain wrong. The offside rule is incredibly simple, and if you've mastered it then you're golden!

When the ball is passed to the attacking player in front of goal, there must be a member of the defending team (one who is not the goalkeeper) level or behind the attacking player. If the attacking player is in front of the last defender when the pass is played, he is deemed offside and if the ball goes into the net the goal will be disallowed, and the defending team will be given a free kick. If that's a little hazy, the BBC website has a good explanation of it here.

Venus Trapped in Mars

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  1. You know, I never understood why us crazy Americans have it all screwed up - soccer & then football. Our "football" is rarely touched by the foot so I don't understand why it's called that. Crazy damn Americans! Tee hee!

  2. Great explanation, and then we have the " extra time" rule... It is fun for us Canadians to watch though, we love the "fake" injuries LOL

  3. Great explanations! I am happy to say I get the offside rule and Luke does not!!

  4. I finally understood the offside rule while watching Bend it Like Beckham, when they are teaching Jules mum - "The offside rule is when the French mustard has to be between the teriyaki sauce and the sea salt" hahah!

  5. Great post! It's a nice change to read a sports explanation in my kind of terminology just to get the basic gameplay (vs ESPN where it's every nuance of every players history and stats, etc, etc).

    Also soccer/football. The USA is just silly. It's like how we have to be the one big holdout for the metric system.


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