Laws of the Game (1871)

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

The Laws of the Game[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, 8 yards apart, with a tape across them, 8 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 10 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. In the event, however, of no goal having fallen to either party at the lapse of half the allotted time, ends shall then 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, to a distance of at least six yards, and it shall not be in play until it shall have 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. When the ball is kicked behind the goal-line, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick-off in whatever way they please without any obstruction, the opposite side not being able to approach within six yards of the ball.

8. No player shall carry or knock on the ball; and handling the ball, under any pretence whatever, shall be prohibited, except in the case of the goal-keeper, who shall be allowed to use his hands for the protection of his goal.

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

10. A player shall not throw the ball nor 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.

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.

Mem. — Handling is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1870:
    • Law 5: after "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" insert "to a distance of at least six yards" (proposed by Wanderers FC).
    • Law 8: after "handling the ball, under any pretence whatever, shall be prohibited" insert "except in the case of the goal-keeper, who shall be allowed to use his hands for the protection of his goal" (proposed by Upton Park FC).
    • Definitions: add "Mem. -- Handling is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm" (proposed by Nottingham FC).
    For more detail, see "The Football Association". The Sportsman (London) (972): 3. (1871-03-01). (Wikisource contributor note)


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.