Laws of the Game (1863) (initial resolutions)

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The Laws of the Game  (1863) 
by the Football Association

Resolutions agreed by the Football Association at its meetings on 10 and 17 November 1863. These resolutions formed the basis for the first draft drawn up by FA secretary Ebenezer Morley and presented to the FA meeting of 24 November 1863.

Resolutions of 10 November 1863[edit]

1. The length of the ground should not exceed 200 yards.

2. The width of the ground should not exceed 100 yards.

3. The goals should be defined by two upright posts without any tape or bar across them.

4. That a goal should be scored whenever the ball was kicked between the goalposts or over the space between them.

5. That the goal-posts be 8 yards apart.

6. That the game be commenced by a place kick from the centre of the ground.

7. The losing side should be entitled to the kick-off.

8. The goals should be changed after each goal is won.

9. That when the ball is out of bounds it should be kicked or thrown in straight by the person who should first touch it down.

Resolutions of 17 November 1863[edit]

10. A player is "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 by his own side past a player he may 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.

11. In case the ball goes behind the goal line. If the side to whom the goal belongs touches the ball down one of that side to be entitled to a free kick from the goal line opposite the place where the ball is touched down. If touched down by one of the opposite side one of such side shall be entitled to a free kick (place or drop) from a point 15 yards outside the goal line opposite the place where the ball is touched down.

12. A player is to be entitled to run with the ball in his hands if he makes a fair catch or catches the ball on the first bound.

13. A player may be hacked on the front of the leg below the knee while running with the ball.

14. Tripping shall not be allowed except when running with the ball.

15. A player may be held when running with the ball.

16. Hands shall not be used against an adversary except when he is running with the ball.

17. A 'fair catch' is to be when the ball is caught coming directly off an adversary's foot or body. A catch from behind goal or out of touch is not a fair catch.

18. Any player is to be allowed to charge another provided they are both in active play. A player may charge when out of play.

19. No one wearing projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta percha on the soles or heels of his boots be allowed to play.

20. A player may pass the ball to another player if he makes a fair catch or takes the ball on the first bound.

21. A knock on is from the hand only.

22. A fair catch is to enable a player to a free kick provided he makes a mark with his heel at once and in order to take such kick the players may go as far back as he pleases.

23. A goal is to be scored when the ball passes over the space between the goal-posts at whatever height -- not being thrown, knocked or carried.


This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was published before January 1, 1927.

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 95 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.