Soccer Ball Regulations

One of the reasons soccer is so popular worldwide is that the ball can be easily improvised. Anything that can roll -- from a grapefruit to a stuffed sock -- can be used as a substitute. However, in official matches, an approved soccer ball must be used -- a ball that complies with soccer ball regulations.

FIFA, the global body regulating soccer, has 17 laws; the soccer ball is important enough to have an entire law devoted to it. Law 2 (The Ball) stipulates the following:

Qualities and measurements of the ball.

Replacement of a defective ball during a game.

Treatment of match balls during play.

Treatment of extra balls on the field of play.

Decisions of the IFAB concerning the ball.

Soccer ball regulations state that a soccer ball must be spherical -- not round or oblong. Most soccer balls are made of leather, but Law 2 also provides for them to be made of "other suitable materials" (synthetic leather/polystyrene foam). The ball must also be of a certain size -- not more than 28 inches (70 cm) and not less than 27 inches (68 cm); that measurement corresponds with a Size 5 soccer ball.

The weight and pressure of the ball are also significant and are checked by match officials before the start of a game. FIFA regulations state that an approved soccer ball should weigh no more than 16 ounces and not less than 14 ounces. At sea level, the pressure of the ball should be between 8.5 lbs. /square inch and 15.6 lbs./square inch. These qualities and measurements of the ball contribute to quality gameplay, player comfort and player safety.

If a match ball bursts or becomes defective during the course of a match, regulations provide for its replacement by a ball that is compliant with Law 2. If the ball becomes unusable while in play, the referee must stop play and restart it with a dropped ball at the place where the ball burst or becomes defective. The only exception is if the ball burst or became defective in the goal area, in which case the ball should be dropped "parallel to the goal line at the point nearest to where the original ball was located when play was stopped." Should the ball became unusable when it was already out of play, the match should be restarted in accordance with the previous decision (penalty kick, goal kick, throw-in etc.).

In high-profile games, several match balls would be available to ensure quick restarts. However, these are under the control of the match referee and they must conform to the requirements of Law 2. Soccer ball regulations state that a ball may not be changed without the authority of the match referee.

If an extra ball enters the field of play during a match, the referee should only stop play if the extra ball interferes with play. If the ball interferes with play, the referee must stop the match and restart play with a dropped ball. Otherwise, the referee need only ensure that the extra ball is removed at the earliest opportunity.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) made some important decisions regarding balls used in competitions under the auspices of FIFA or its confederations. In addition to meeting the requirements of Law 2, soccer balls must have a designated logo ("FIFA APPROVED," "FIFA INSPECTED," or "INTERNATIONAL MATCHBALL STANDARD.") The IFAB also determined that "no form of commercial advertising on the ball is permitted." Exceptions to that decision include the competition's emblem, the organiser's logo and the authorised trademark of the ball's manufacturer.

To ensure compliance, it is better to use balls that have the designated logos, determine that they are match-worthy (not old, worn or shredded), and inflate or deflate the balls to the required pressure.

Soccer ball history begins of course with the game itself. Soccer-like games were played in different civilizations in ancient history, so there are several examples of ear...click here for more.

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Soccer ball history begins of course with the game itself. Soccer-like games were played in different civilizations in ancient history, so there are several examples of ear...click here for more.

Soccer ball history begins of course with the game itself. Soccer-like games were played in different civilizations in ancient history, so there are several examples of ear...click here for more.

Soccer ball history begins of course with the game itself. Soccer-like games were played in different civilizations in ancient history, so there are several examples of ear...click here for more.

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