Laws of the Game (1891)
The Laws of the Game
1. The limits of the ground shall be:— maximum length, 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 touch-line; and a line defining six yards from the goal posts and twelve yards from the goal lines shall also be marked out. The centre of the ground shall be indicated by a suitable mark, and a circle with a ten yards radius shall be made round it. The goals shall be upright posts, eight yards apart, with a bar across them eight feet from the ground. The average circumference of the Association ball shall be not less than 27 inches and not more than 28 inches: and in International matches, at the commencement of the game, the weight of the ball shall be from 13 to 15 ounces.
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 in the direction of the opposite goal-line. 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 Law 2.
4. A goal shall be won when the ball has passed between the goal-posts under the bar, not being thrown, knocked on, or carried by any one of the attacking side. The ball hitting the goal or boundary posts, or goal bar, and rebounding into play, is considered in play. The ball crossing the goal or touch line, either on the ground or in the air, is out of play.
5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall throw it in from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground. The thrower, facing the field of play, shall throw the ball over his head with both hands in any direction, and it shall be in play when thrown in. The thrower shall not play until the ball has been played by another player.
6. When a player kicks the ball, or throws it in from touch, any one of the same side who, at such moment of kicking or throwing, 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 such moment of kicking or throwing, at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal-line; but no player is out of play in the case of a corner-kick, or when the ball is kicked from goal, or when it has been last played by an opponent.
7. When the ball is played 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 goal-post nearest the point where the ball left the field of play: but, if played 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 opponent shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until it is kicked off.
8. No player shall carry, knock on, or handle the ball under any pretence whatever, except in the case of the goal-keeper, who, within his own half of the ground, shall be allowed to use his hands in defence of his goal, either by knocking on or throwing, but not carrying 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. In no case shall a goal be scored from any free kick (except as provided in Law 13), nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off, the corner-flag, and goal kicks shall be free kicks within the meaning of this rule.
10. Neither tripping, hacking, nor jumping at a player shall be allowed, and no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary. No player may charge an opponent from behind, unless such opponent be not only facing his own goal, but is, in the opinion of the referee, wilfully impeding his adversary while in that position.
11. No player shall wear any nails, except such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather or iron plates, or guttapercha on the soles or heels of his boots or on his shin guards. If bars or studs on the soles or heels of the boots are used, they shall not project more than half-an-inch, and shall have all their fastenings driven in flush with the leather. Bars should be transversed and flat, not less than one-and-a-half inches in length and a half-inch in width. Studs shall be round in plan, not less than half-and-inch in diameter, and in no case conical or pointed. Any player discovered infringing this rule shall be prohibited from taking further part in the match.
12. A referee shall be appointed, whose duties shall be to enforce the rules and decide all disputed points. He shall also keep a record of the game, and act as timekeeper; and, in the event of any ungentlemanly behaviour on the part of any of the contestants, the offender or offenders shall be cautioned, and if the offence is repeated, or, in the case of violent conduct, without any previous caution, the referee shall have power to rule the offending player or players out of play, and shall transmit the name or names of such player of players to his or their (National) Association, in whom shall be vested the right of accepting an apology. The referee shall have power to terminate the game whenever, by reason of darkness, interference by spectators, or other cause, he shall think fit, and he shall report the same to the Association under whose jurisdiction the match was played, who shall have full power to deal with the matter. Two linesmen shall be appointed, whose duty (SUBJECT TO THE DECISION OF THE REFEREE) shall be to decide when the ball is out of play, and which side is entitled to the corner-flag kick, goal-kick, or throw in. Any undue interference by a linesman shall be reported by the referee to the National Association to which the linesman belongs, who shall deal with the matter in such a manner as they may deem necessary. The referee shall have power to award a free kick without any appeal in any case where he thinks that the conduct of a player is dangerous, or likely to prove dangerous, but not sufficiently so as to justify him in putting in force the greater powers vested in him as above.
13. If any player shall intentionally trip or hold an opposing player, or deliberately handle the ball, within twelve yards from his own goal-line, the referee shall, on appeal, award the opposing side a penalty kick, to be taken from any point twelve yards from the goal-line, under the following conditions:— All players, with the exception of the player taking the penalty kick and the opposing goalkeeper (who shall not advance more than six yards from the goal-line) shall stand at least six yards from the ball. The ball shall be in play when the kick is taken, and a goal may be scored from the penalty kick.
14. In the event of an appeal for any supposed infringement of the rules, the ball shall be in play until a decision has been given.
15. The referee shall have power to stop the game for such a time as he may think fit, whenever he may deem it necessary to do so.
16. In the event of any temporary suspension of play from any cause, the ball not having gone into touch, or behind the goal-line, the game shall be restarted by the referee throwing up the ball at the spot where play was suspended, and the players on either side shall not play the ball until it has touched the ground.
17. In the event of any infringement of rules 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, or 16, a free kick shall be forfeited to the opposite side, from the spot where the infringement took place.
Definition of Terms
A place-kick is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground, in any position in which the kicker may choose to place it.
A free-kick is a kick at the ball in any direction the player pleases, when it is lying on the ground, none of the kicker's opponents being allowed within six yards of the ball, unless they be standing on their own goal-line. The ball must at least be rolled over before it shall be considered played.
Hacking is kicking an adversary intentionally.
Tripping is throwing, or attempting to throw, an adversary by the use of the legs, or by stooping in front of, or behind him.
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 extending from the body.
Handling is understood to be playing the ball with the hand or arm.
Touch is that part of the field, on either side of the ground, which is beyond the line of play.
Carrying is taking more than two steps while holding the ball.
Changes from 1890:
- Law 1: after "marked off with flags and touch-line" insert "and a line defining six yards from the goal posts and twelve yards from the goal lines shall also be marked out. The centre of the ground shall be indicated by a suitable mark, and a circle with a ten yards radius shall be made round it".
- Law 7: replace "within six yards of the nearest goal-post" with "within six yards of the goal-post nearest the point where the ball left the field of play".
- Law 9: after "In no case shall a goal be scored from any free kick" insert "(except as provided in Law 13)".
- Law 10: replace "unless such opponent be facing his own goal, and, in the opinion of the Umpires or Referee, he, in that position, is wilfully impeding his adversary" with "unless such opponent be not only facing his own goal, but is, in the opinion of the referee, wilfully impeding his adversary while in that position".
- Law 12: replace "Two Umpires shall be appointed, whose duty shall be to decide all disputed points when appealed to, and a Referee shall be appointed to decide in all cases of difference between the Umpires. It shall be the duty of the Referee to decide all cases in which the Umpires do not agree, or in which one Umpire does not give a decision" with "A referee shall be appointed, whose duties shall be to enforce the rules and decide all disputed points."
- Law 12: omit "in the presence of the Umpires".
- Law 12: after "shall have full power to deal with the matter" insert "Two linesmen shall be appointed, whose duty (SUBJECT TO THE DECISION OF THE REFEREE) shall be to decide when the ball is out of play, and which side is entitled to the corner-flag kick, goal-kick, or throw in".
- Law 12: in the remainder of this law replace "Umpire" with "linesman".
- Law 13: new law added (proposed by W. Reid of Ireland; seconded by Mr. Crump of England).
- Old laws 13, 14, 15 16: renumbered to new laws 14, 15, 16, 17 respectively.
- Old law 16 (new law 17): replace "rules 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, or 10" with "rules 2, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, or 16".