Beginner’s Guide To Football Rules

How long can extra time last, what actually counts as a foul and how was that again with the offside? There are a lot of rules to consider in football. Of course, you don’t need to know all of them in order to enjoy the game as a spectator. But this blog post gives you ideal opportunity to refresh your own football knowledgeand learn a few football rules.

Number of players

Both teams consist of a maximum of eleven players, one of whom is the goalkeeper. Each team must have at least seven players on the field, otherwise the referee is not allowed to whistle the game. During the game, each team may substitute three players for substitutes.

Equipment of the players

To be on the safe side, the following applies: A player may not wear any jewelry or other objects that could injure himself or anyone else involved on the football field. In contrast, there is basic equipment for every player, including a shirt, shorts, stockings, shin guards – which do not have to be longer than the stockings and of sufficient protective material – and soccer shoes. Only the goalkeeper’s clothes differ in color from those of his teammates. It even has to be different from all players, the referee and his assistants. If a player violates one of these regulations, he will be removed from the field by the referee until he has adapted his equipment to the regulations.

Duration of the game

The teams have 45 minutes twice to kick the ball into the opposing goal. After the first three quarters of an hour there is an interruption that lasts 15 minutes. Then the teams change the playing field side. After both halves of the game, the referee can extend the game by a few minutes, depending on the number and length of interruptions, such as injuries, during the game. In tournaments like the World Cup, a winner has to be determined at the end of the game. If there is still a tie after the regular time, an extra period of two quarters of an hour is played. If no goal is scored during this time, there is a penalty shoot-out.

Yellow and red cards

The referee can distribute warnings or penalties to the players in the event of rule violations. The best known are the yellow and red cards, with the yellow still serving as a warning. If a player sees the red card, he is expelled from the field and may not be replaced by a substitute player. Yellow cards are given for non-compliance with the referee’s instructions, leaving the field of play without permission, swearing or complaining about referee’s decisions. The referee only draws the red card in the event of serious violations such as gross fouls, violent behavior, deliberate handball, insulting and spitting on referees or players.

Penalty kick

If a player of the defending team commits one of ten possible violations within his own penalty area, such as jumping, jostling, pushing, hitting, handball, holding in the penalty area to prevent a scoring chance or kicking an opposing player, he will be punished with a penalty kick carried out by a player on the opposing team.


An attacking player is offside if he is behind the last opposing field player at the moment when the ball is played in his direction. So, the offside rule is actually quite simple.

The gate

As a rule, the following applies: The team that has scored more goals wins. Nevertheless, a distinction is made between direct and indirect goal scoring even with goals. This is particularly important for online soccer betting, for example, goals from free play, a kick-off, a goal kick, a corner kick, a penalty kick and a direct free kick count as direct goals. Indirect kicks, on the other hand, require the contact of another player before the goal can be scored. This applies to indirect free kicks and throw-ins. Of course, the ball has to go behind the goal line for it to count.

Free kick

As already described, a distinction is made between the direct and indirect free kick in the free kick. The difference: direct free kicks are promoted directly towards the goal. Indirect free kicks, on the other hand, are touched by another player beforehand. A free kick can be triggered by several things: foul and hand games or offside positions can lead to a free kick for the other team.

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Corner kick

A corner kick occurs when a defending player touches the ball before it has rolled over the goal line and out of bounds. The corner kick is then taken on the side where the ball has crossed the goal line. The ball is then placed in the quarter circle in one of the playing corners and executed by the shooter. Defending players of the opposing team must maintain a distance of at least 9.15 meters at this moment, otherwise the corner kick may not be taken.


Advantage means a decision by the referee. As soon as a player is fouled, the game is usually interrupted. However, if the fouled player’s team continues to maintain control of the ball, play may continue as this may result in a good chance to score. The penalty of the fouling opponent does not go away, but is simply waited until the next game interruption.


Kick-off takes place at the beginning of a football game, after a goal, at the beginning of the second half and at the beginning of each half in the case of overtime. When the ball kicks off, it lies on the center of the center circle on the field. According to the rules, the kick-off may only be taken after the referee releases the shot with a whistle.

At the beginning of the game, a coin is used to decide which of the two teams is allowed to kick off. If a goal is scored, the opposing team may shoot. After the half-time break, the team that had no kick-off in the first half may take it.


In football, half-time is the point in time when the first 45 minutes of the football game, i.e. exactly halfway, have expired. Colloquially, the two halves are also referred to as halftime: there is a first half and a second half. After half-time there is a 15-minute half-time break in football. Then the teams change sides and play on the other half of the field.

Penalty Shootout

If a winner is required for certain football games and there is a draw at the end of the season, there will be a penalty shoot-out. This is determined differently in the football rules depending on the competition. In most cases, there is extra time before a penalty shoot-out. This is divided into two halves, each lasting 15 minutes. If there is also a tie at the end of extra time, there will be a penalty shoot-out.

According to the rules, the team’s shooters shoot alternately at the same goal. Of course, the goalkeeper changes after every shot. The ball is placed on the penalty mark and as soon as the referee releases the shot with a whistle, the current shooter may shoot at the goal. Both teams are initially allowed to take five penalties. The team that scored the most hits of the five shots wins the penalty shoot-out. The penalty shoot-out can also be called off before the end of the five shots if one of the two teams is already the winner early. This can happen if the deficit cannot be made up after four penalties.


There is a throw-in when the ball has completely crossed the touchline during play. The team that did not touch the ball last may take the throw-in. The player who takes the throw-in must have his feet on either the sideline or the ground outside the field of play. The ball must be held with both hands and thrown from behind over the head. The other players and opponents must be at least two meters away from the spot.

Interruption of play

Every now and then it happens that a football game is interrupted by the referee. One reason for this can be bad weather conditions. Of course, there are other reasons why a game is interrupted as f objects are thrown onto the field of play or unauthorized persons run onto the field, the referee can interrupt the game for a certain period of time. But how long can a game be interrupted? The football rules of the DFB stipulate that the interruption should not last longer than 30 minutes.