Laws of the Game (1877)

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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, minimum length 100 yards; maximum breadth 100 yards, minimum breadth 50 yards. The length and breadth shall be marked off with flags; and the goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart, with a tape or bar across them, eight feet from the ground.

2. 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, nor shall any player on either side pass the centre of the ground in the direction of his opponents' goal, until the ball is kicked off.

3. Ends shall only be changed at half time. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off, but after the change of ends at half-time the ball shall be kicked off by the opposite side from that which originally did so; and always as provided in Rule 2.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goal-posts under the tape or bar, not being thrown, knocked on, nor carried. The ball hitting the goal or boundary posts, or goal-bar or tape, and rebounding into play, is considered in play.

5. When the ball is in touch a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground in any direction the thrower may choose. The ball must be thrown at least six yards, and shall in play when thrown in; but the player throwing it in shall not play it until it has been played by another player.

6. 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.

7. 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 within one yard of the nearest corner flag-post. In either case, no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

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 in defence of his goal, either by knocking on or throwing, but shall not carry the ball. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but not more than one player shall act as goal-keeper at the same time, and no second player shall step in and act during any period in which the regular goal-keeper may have vacated his position.

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. 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.

11. In the event of any infringement of Rules 6, 8, or 9, a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side from the spot where the infringement took place.

12. In no case shall a goal be scored from any free kick, nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off and corner-flag kick shall be free kicks within the meaning of this rule.

13. That in the event of a supposed infringement of Rules 6, 8, 9 or 10, the ball be in play until the decision of the umpire, on his being appealed to, shall have been given.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A Place Kick is a kick at the ball while on the ground, in any position in 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.

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

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1875:
    • Law 5: replace "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" with "shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground in any direction the thrower may choose; the ball must be thrown at least six yards, and shall in play when thrown in" (proposed by Clydesdale FC; initially rejected at the Annual General Meeting. Subsequently approved at the Extraordinary General Meeting, where it was proposed by J. H. Todd of Clydesdale FC and seconded by W. Pierce Dix of the Sheffield Football Association).
    • Definition of "holding": replace "below the elbows" with "extended from the body".
    For more information, see (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.