How clued up are you about football’s current laws?
In truth, it’s hard to know absolutely every rule as a fan. Even professional footballers are caught by surprise on the odd occasion by a relatively unknown law of the game.
But it’s every referee’s responsibility to ensure they know all about football’s laws. There shouldn’t be any surprises for match officials during games.
With football currently suspended due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, it’s as good a time as any to swat up on the laws of the game.
And one video from Unisport on YouTube - titled ’10 football rules you didn’t know existed’ - lists a series of laws that you may have had absolutely no idea about. The video has gone viral, racking up almost three million views so far. Let’s take a look at the 10 rules…
Rule 1: If you score a goal but the ball goes flat on the way to the goal - the goal doesn’t count
Basically, the ball needs to be in proper condition - including pumped correctly - at all times. If it’s not, and the ball flies into the back of the net, the goal should be disallowed.
The video shows an example during a Champions League game where a goal was allowed to stand, despite the fact the ball burst en route to goal. Technically it should have been ruled out.
Rule 2: Yellow card for an illegal celebration remains even if the goal is disallowed
Say a player takes his shirt off after scoring, subsequently gets booked and then VAR disallows the goal. The player in question still has a yellow card for his illegal celebration.
Talk about a double whammy.
Rule 3: You can be sent off before the match even starts
Yep, the referee has the power to give a player a straight red card before kick-off if they deserve one for whatever reason.
This happened to Patrice Evra in November 2017 before a Europa League clash between Marseille and Vitoria de Guimaraes.
Evra, who was named among the substitutes, was sent off for aiming a kick at one of his own team’s fans.
Rule 4: The amount of players allowed to take penalty kicks in the shootout must be equal for both teams
This makes total sense, but it’s not something you ever really think about.
If a team has a player sent off then one member of the opposing side must drop out for the penalty shoot-out.
The example on the video is from the 2006 World Cup final. Zinedine Zidane was famously sent off for headbutting Marco Materazzi, so one Italian was forced to sit out of the shoot-out.
The player in question? Gennaro Gattuso. Bonus points if you knew that.
Rule 5: You could start the game with just seven players
It’s hard to imagine this ever happening but, in theory, it could.
As long as a team can field seven players, the game can start.
“It probably wouldn’t be much fun to start a game already four players down,” the video’s narrator correctly, but perhaps unnecessarily, points out.
Rule 6: No attacking players closer than one metre from the wall
This was a rule introduced at the start of the current season because football’s lawmakers felt attacking players in the defensive wall was against the spirit of the game.
“Attackers standing very close to, or in, the defensive ‘wall’ at a free kick often cause management problems and waste time,” IFAB said last year.
“There is no legitimate tactical justification for attackers to be in the ‘wall’ and their presence often damages the image of the game.”
So this type of scenario is now banned…
While this is fine...
Rule 7: You can’t score an own goal from a free-kick or throw-in
The chances of a player scoring an own goal from a free-kick are virtually non-existent - unless it’s been done deliberately.
An own goal from a throw-in is slightly more likely - but only just - and this almost happened in the Premier League back in 2002, during a match between Aston Villa and Birmingham City.
On that occasion, Olaf Mellberg threw the ball back to goalkeeper Peter Enckleman, who got the faintest of touches on the ball as it went into the back of the net. This meant the own goal was allowed to stand.
But had the ball gone directly in from Mellberg’s throw, a corner kick to the opposition would have been awarded, as strange as that might sound.
Rule 8: The team that wins the toss can now choose to take the kick-off or which goal to attack
Another rule that was introduced in 2019, captains can now choose whether to take kick-off if they win the toss. Previously, they were limited to selecting which goal to attack.
Rule 9: In penalty situations, the goalkeeper must NOT be touching the goalposts, crossbar or nets - they must not be moving
If the goalkeeper is making any part of the goal move - either the posts, crossbar or net - then the referee should not signal for the penalty to be taken.
You will often see keepers moving different parts of the goal in order to put off the penalty taker.
Rule 10: Goalkeepers can hold the ball for a maximum of six seconds
Many people are aware of this rule, in fairness. Even at school, we grew up reminding the goalkeeper about the ‘six-second rule’.
But this rule is not always implemented correctly by referees - even at the highest level.
The video shows one example where Simon Mignolet held onto the ball for 21 seconds before an indirect free-kick was finally given against him.
So, there you have it.
Everyday is a school day, eh?
You can watch the video in full here…
- Man Utd fans rank their players into five categories
- Europe's top five leagues merged into one table
- 11 times Fergie and Ronaldo showed they're like father and son