Laws of the Game (1873)

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

Adopted[edit]

Annual General Meeting of the Football Association, Freemasons' Tavern, London, February 26th, 1873.

Changes from 1872[edit]

  • Law 2: replace "The winners of the toss shall have the choice of goals" with "The winners of the toss shall have the option of kick-off or choice of goals" (proposed by Queen's Park FC).
  • Law 2: omit "by the side losing the toss" (proposed by Queen's Park FC).
  • Law 3: replace "After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off, and goals shall be changed" with "After a goal is won, ends shall be changed, and the losing side shall kick off (proposed by Queen's Park FC).
  • Law 5: replace "the first player who touches it shall throw it" with "a player of the opposite side to that which has kicked it out shall throw it" (proposed by Nottingham Forest FC, as amended).
  • Law 6: replace "any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponents' goal line is out of play" with "any one of the same side who, at such moment of kicking, is nearer to the opponents' goal line is out of play" (proposed by Uxbridge FC).
  • Law 6: replace "unless there are at least three of his opponents between him and their own goal" with "unless there are at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal line" (proposed by Uxbridge FC).
  • Law 6: replace "kicked from behind the goal line" with "kicked from the goal line" (proposed by Uxbridge FC).
  • Law 7: replace entire law with current text (proposed by Great Marlow FC).
  • Law 8: replace "who shall be allowed to use his hands for the protection of his goal" with "who shall be allowed to use his hands, but shall not carry the ball" (proposed by Queen's Park FC, as amended by Mr Allport of Crystal Palace FC).
  • Law 10: delete entire law.
  • Law 11: delete entire law.
  • Definitions: add definition of free kick (proposed by Clapton Pilgrims FC, as amended by Major Marindin of Royal Engineers).

Laws[edit]

Law 1[edit]

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.

Law 2[edit]

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

Law 3[edit]

After a goal is won, ends shall be changed, and the losing side shall kick off. 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. After the call of half-time ends shall not again be changed.

Law 4[edit]

A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal posts under the tape, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried. The ball hitting one or other of the goal or boundary posts and rebounding into play is considered in play.

Law 5[edit]

When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which has kicked it out 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 has touched the ground, and the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

Law 6[edit]

When a player kicks the ball, any one of the same side who, at such moment of kicking, 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 nearer their own goal line; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from the goal line.

Law 7[edit]

When the ball is kicked behind the goal line by one of the opposite side, it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal line it went, within six yards of the nearest goal post; but if kicked behind by any one of the side whose goal line it is, a player of the opposite side shall kick it from the nearest corner flag post. In either case no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked off.

Law 8[edit]

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, but shall not carry the ball. In the event of an infringement of this rule, a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side from the spot where the infringement took place, but in no case shall a goal be scored from such free kick.

Law 9[edit]

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.

Law 10[edit]

No player shall wear any nails excepting such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots.

Definitions[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.
  • A "free kick" is a kick at the ball in any way the kicker pleases, when it is lying on the ground; none of the kicker's opponents being allowed within six yards of the ball, but in no case can a player be forced to stand behind his own goal line.
  • Mem. -- "Handling" is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm.


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.