Laws of the Game (1863) (as submitted for adoption)

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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 goal shall be defined by two upright posts, eight yards apart, without any tape or bar across them.

2. A toss for goals shall take place, and the game shall be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground by the side losing the toss for goals; 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 be entitled to kick off, and the two sides shall change goals after each goal is won.

4. 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.

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 the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground.

6. When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's 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 he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind the goal line.

7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick at the goal only from a point 15 yards outside the goal line, opposite the place where the ball is touched, the opposite side standing within their goal line until he has had his kick.

8. If a player makes a fair catch, he shall be entitled to a free kick, provided he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once; and in order to take such kick he may go back as far as he pleases, and no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.

9. No player shall run with the ball.

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

11. A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands.

12. No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play.

13. No player shall be allowed to 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 it is on the ground, in any position which the kicker may choose to place it.

A Free Kick — Is the privilege of kicking the ball, without obstruction, in such manner as the kicker may think fit.

A Fair Catch — Is when the ball is caught, after it has touched the person of an adversary, or has been kicked or knocked on by an adversary, and before it has touched the ground or one of the side catching it; but if the ball is kicked from behind the goal line, a fair catch cannot be made.

Hacking — Is kicking an adversary.

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, arms, or body without kicking or throwing it.

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 draft
    • Law 2: prepend "A toss for goals shall take place, and"
    • Law 2: replace "side winning the toss" with "side losing the toss for goals"
    • Law 2: delete final sentence and prepend to Law 3
    • New law 3 (old law 2): before "the two sides" insert "and"
    • Law 4: replace "passes over the space between the goal posts" with "passes between the goal posts or over the space between the goal posts"
    • Law 5: replace "the first player who touches it shall kick or throw it" with "the first player who touches it shall throw it"
    • Law 5: append "and the ball shall not be in play until it has touched the ground"
    • Law 6: replace "A player shall be out of play immediately he is in front of the ball, and must return behind the ball as soon as possible. If the ball is kicked past a player by his own side, he shall not touch or kick it or advance until one of the other side has first kicked it or one of his own side on a level with or in front of him has been able to kick it" with "When a player has kicked the ball, any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent's 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 he is in play; but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked off from behind the goal line"
    • Law 7: replace "a free kick from a point 15 yards outside the goal line" with "a free kick at the goal only from a point 15 yards from the goal line"
    • Law 7: append "the opposite side standing within their goal line until he has had his kick"
    • Law 9: replace "A player shall be entitled to run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound: but in the case of a fair catch, if he makes his mark, he shall not then run" with "No player shall run with the ball"
    • Law 10: delete law "If any player shall run with the ball towards his adversaries' goal, any player on the opposite side shall be at liberty to charge, hold, trip, or hack him, or to wrest the ball from him; but no player shall be held and hacked at the same time"
    • Law 11: renumbered to new law 10
    • New law 10 (old law 11): replace "no player shall use his hands or elbows to hold or push his adversary, except in the case provided for by law 10" with "no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary"
    • Law 12: delete law "Any player shall be allowed to charge another, provided they are both in active play. A player shall be allowed to charge if even he is out of play"
    • Law 13: renumbered to new law 11
    • New law 11 (old law 13): replace "A player shall be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another if he makes a fair catch, or catches the ball on the first bound" with "A player shall not be allowed to throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands"
    • New law 12: add new law "No player shall be allowed to take the ball from the ground with his hands under any pretence whatever while it is in play"
    • Law 14: renumbered to new law 13
    • Definition of Fair Catch: replace "kicked, knocked on or thrown" with "kicked or knocked on"
    • Definition of Fair Catch: replace "kicked from out of touch, or from behind goal line" with "kicked from behind the goal line"
    • Definition of Hacking: replace "kicking an adversary on the front of the leg, below the knee" with "kicking an adversary"
    • Definition of Tripping: replace "throwing an adversary by the use of the legs without the hands, and without hacking or charging" with "throwing an adversary by the use of the legs"
    • Definition of Charging: delete definition "Charging is attacking an adversary with the shoulder, chest, or body, without using the hands or legs"
    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, 1924.


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.