Soccer Rules and History

It's important to understand soccer rules. Soccer, or Association Football, as it is known outside of the United States, is possibly the most popular sport in the world. At matches across the globe spectators cheer, yell and fight. In some countries, children are raised playing soccer from the time they are very young. They play morning to night, on fields and dirt lots. Soccer is a way of life so it's important to understand soccer rules.

History of Soccer
Soccer and rugby were once one sport, which was split into two separate sports by the London Football Association in 1863. The Football Association (FA) began meeting and putting together the "Laws of the Game," a rulebook that is still used today. These were not agreed upon by everybody. The representative from the Blackheath Rugby Club left the FA because of the withdrawal of two rules and several other clubs followed.

The first rule that caused Blackheath to leave allowed players to run with the ball in their hands. The second allowed Hacking, or kicking, tripping and holding other players. The clubs that left formed the Rugby Football Union. In the United States, rugby football morphed into American football. Association football became the soccer we are familiar with today. Soccer is governed internationally by the Federation Internationale de Football Association (International Association of Federation Football), or FIFA.

In the United States, soccer is increasing in popularity. It has become a mainstream sport, alongside baseball and football. Young children are playing it as well as adults in recreational leagues. David Beckham, formerly of Manchester United and Real Madrid, has brought attention to US soccer by joining the MLS team LA Galaxy. Beckham's skill combined with his public profile has made him an idol among young soccer players.

Learn the Rules
Learning the rules of soccer is important to understanding and playing the game. The beauty of soccer is its simplicity. The "Laws of the Game" is less than 50 pages, compared with other professional sports where rule-book pages number in the hundreds. The rules of soccer are easy to understand and it doesn't require a ton of equipment.

Soccer is a sport played by two teams on a rectangular grass or turf field. Dimensions vary according to the age of players and league rules, but international regulations call for a rectangular field that is between 100 and 130 yards long and 50 and 100 yards wide.

A goal sits at each of the short ends of the field. The goal must be 24 feet wide and 8 feet high. Each team is comprised of 11 players, who work together to get the ball into the opposing team's goal. A goalkeeper defends each goal and is the only player allowed to touch the ball with hands, except during a throw-in, when a chosen player may handle the ball.

The rest of the team uses their feet to dribble the ball across the field, and other parts of the body when necessary, except for the arms and hands. The team with the most goals at the end of the game, or match, is the winner. If the score is tied, a tie or draw is usually called. In some instances the game could go into overtime in addition to or instead of a penalty shootout.

If, during play, the ball is kicked off of the side of the field, a throw-in start is performed by the team that did not knock the ball out. During a throw-in, part of both feet must remain on the field, and two hands must be on the ball.

When the ball is kicked out of bounds on the short sides of the field, where the goals are, the restart could go one of two ways. If the ball is kicked out by a member of the defending team (whose goal is on that side), the opposing team is allowed a corner kick made from the corner of the field. If the ball is kicked out by a member of the opposing team, a goal kick is taken by the defending team. This may be taken by the goalie or a member of the defending team. During a goal kick, the opposing team must stay outside of the penalty box in front of the goal until the ball has been touched.

Soccer Fouls
Offside is an often misunderstood rule. An offside foul occurs when an opposing player takes a position that leaves fewer than two defenders between the player and the goal without being in possession of the ball. Typically, offside will be called if an opposing player charges toward the goalie without the ball with the intention of getting a pass in an advantageous position. If an offside foul is called, the defending team is given the ball at the spot of the foul.

Personal fouls are not allowed in soccer. A foul may include holding, tripping, pushing, kicking, tackling or otherwise attacking another player. In the event of a foul, a direct free kick is awarded to the other team. If the offense occurs within the offending team's penalty box, a penalty kick is awarded. If the referee feels that the attack was vicious enough, a yellow or red card may be shown. A yellow card is a warning. A red card means expulsion from the game. Two yellow cards during one game are equivalent to a red card.

Get the Gear
With soccer becoming more popular, more children as well as adults are learning how to play. If you're interested in playing soccer, getting the basic gear is a good first step.

For outdoor soccer, a pair of cleats is beneficial. Leather is the best material for those who plan on playing regularly. If you'll be just the occasional player, synthetic materials will do. The material of the field you'll be playing on is also a factor. Turf cleats are best for synthetic fields, while molded studs are ideal for beginners and intermediate players on grass fields. Advanced players may want to choose detachable cleats, which are especially useful on muddy terrain.

There are also indoor shoes for indoor soccer players. These resemble low-cut sneakers, yet provide traction for indoor facilities.

Shinguards are another important piece of soccer gear. Most referees will not allow someone to play without shinguards. Shinguards come in a variety of sizes and materials. Your best bet for picking out the correct shinguard is to go to a store which specializes in soccer equipment and tell an associate your needs.

Other soccer equipment includes a ball, shirt, shorts, and socks. Soccer socks are thick and come up to just below the knee. Although not a requirement in most leagues, these socks are good at keeping shinguards in place.

For children, joining a team is a great way to learn how to play the sport. Look for teams in your town or at school. Independent leagues are also an option, especially for older children and adults. Try Craigslist.org to find teams in your area. The local YMCA, town hall or library may also have information about soccer teams in your area.

No matter what kind of team you join, remember that soccer is fun. Don't stress about your skill level and enjoy playing. In no time you'll be scoring goals (or defending from them) with

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