Laws of the Game (1866)

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For works with similar titles, see Laws of the Game.

Laws[edit]

1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards, the maximum breadth shall be 100 yards, the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart, with a tape across them, eight feet from the ground.

2. The winners of the toss shall have the choice of goals, the game shall be commenced by a place-kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss; the other side shall not approach within ten yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off, and goals shall be changed.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

5. When the ball is in touch, the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in a direction at right angles with the boundary line, and it shall not be in play until it has touched the ground, and the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

6. When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponents' goal line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until the ball has been played, unless there are at least three of his opponents between him and their own goal; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from behind the goal line.

7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, a player on the side to whom the goal belongs shall kick it off from the goal line, at the point opposite the place where the ball is touched by a player with any part of his body; but if a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, after it has gone behind the goal line of his adversary, one "touch down" shall be scored by his side, and in the event of no goals being got on either side, the side obtaining the greater number of "touches down" shall be the winners of the match.

8. No player shall carry the ball.

9. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.

10. A player shall not throw the ball or pass it to another.

11. No player shall take the ball from the ground with his hands while it is in play, under any pretence whatever.

12. No player shall wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A "place-kick" is a kick at the ball while on the ground, in any position which the kicker may choose to place it.

A "free kick" is the privilege of kicking at the ball without obstruction, in such manner as the kicker may think fit.

"Hacking" is kicking an adversary intentionally.

"Tripping" is throwing an adversary by the use of the legs.

"Knocking on" is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

"Holding" includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm below the elbow.

"Touch" is that part of the field, on either side of the ground, which is beyond the line of flags.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1863:
    • Law 1: replace "the goals shall be defined by two upright posts, eight yards apart, without any tape or bar across them" with "the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart, with a tape across them, eight feet from the ground".
    • Law 4: replace "A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts or over the space between the goal-posts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried" with "A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried".
    • Law 5: append "and the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player".
    • Law 6: after "nor in any way whatever prevent any other player from doing so, until the ball has been played", insert "unless there are at least three of his opponents between him and their own goal".
    • Law 7: replace entire law with current text
    • Law 8: entire law deleted
    • Definitions: remove definition of fair catch
    For more detail see
    • "The Football Association". Bell's Life in London and Sporting Chronicle (2288): 7. (1866-02-24) (Wikisource contributor note)
    • Alcock, C. W. (1906); Football: The Association Game; London: George Bell & Sons; pp. 13-14.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1923.


The author died in 1924, so this work is also in the public domain in countries and areas where the copyright term is the author's life plus 80 years or less. This work may also be in the public domain in countries and areas with longer native copyright terms that apply the rule of the shorter term to foreign works.