Laws of the Game (1904)

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

The Laws of the Game[edit]

1. The game should be played by eleven players on each side. The field of play shall be as shown in the plan at the end of the laws subject to the following provisions: The dimensions of the field of play shall be:— Maximum length, 130 yards; minimum length, 100 yards; maximum breadth, 100 yards, minimum breadth, 50 yards. The field of play shall be marked by boundary lines. The lines at each end are the goal lines, and the lines at the sides are the touch lines. The touch-lines shall be drawn at right angles with the goal-lines. A flag with a staff not less than 5 ft. high shall be placed at each corner. A half-way line shall be marked out across the field of play. The centre of the field of play 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 fixed on the goal-lines equi-distant from the corner flagstaffs, 8 yards apart, with a bar across them 8 ft. from the ground. The maximum width of the goal-posts and the maximum depth of the cross-bar shall be 5 in. Lines shall be marked six yards from each goal-post at right angles to the goal-lines for a distance of six yards, and these shall be connected with each other by a line parallel to the goal-lines; the space within these lines shall be the goal area. Lines shall be marked eighteen yards from each goal-post at right angles to the goal-lines for a distance of eighteen yards, and these shall be connected with each other by a line parallel to the goal-lines; the space within these lines shall be the penalty area. A suitable mark shall be made opposite the centre of each goal, twelve yards from the goal line; this shall be the penalty-kick mark. The circumference of the ball shall be not less than 27 in. nor more than 28 in. In International matches, the dimensions of the field of play shall be — Maximum length, 120 yards; minimum length, 110 yards; maximum breadth, 80 yards; minimum breadth, 70 yards; and at the commencement of the game the weight of the ball shall be from 13 oz. to 15 oz. [doib 1]

2. The duration of the game shall be 90 minutes, unless otherwise mutually agreed upon. 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 field of play in the direction of the opponents' goal-line; the opponents 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.[doib 2]

3. Ends shall only be changed at half-time. The interval at half-time shall not exceed five minutes, except by consent of the referee. After a goal is scored the losing side shall kick off, and 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. Except as otherwise provided by these Laws, a goal shall be scored when the ball has passed between the goal-posts under the bar, not being thrown, knocked on, nor carried by any player of the attacking side. If from any cause during the progress of the game the bar is displaced, the referee shall have power to award a goal if in his opinion the ball would have passed under the bar if it had not been displaced. The ball is in play if it rebounds from a goal-post, cross-bar, or a corner flagstaff, into the field of play. The ball is in play if it touches the referee or a linesman when in the field of play. The ball is out of play when it has crossed the goal-line or touch-line, either on the ground or in the air.[doib 3]

5. When the ball is in touch, a player of the opposite side to that which played it out shall throw it in from the point on the touch-line where it left the field of play. The player throwing the ball must stand on the touch-line facing the field of play, and shall throw the ball in over his head with both hands in any direction, and it shall be in play when thrown in. A goal shall not be scored from a throw-in, and the thrower shall not again play until the ball has been played by another player. This Law is complied with if the player has any part of both feet on the line when he throws the ball in.

6. When a player plays the ball, or throws it in from touch, any player of the same side who at such moment of playing or throwing-in is nearer to his opponents' goal-line is out of play, and may not touch the ball himself, nor in any way whatever interfere with an opponent or with the play until the ball has been again played, unless there are at such moment of playing or throwing-in at least three of his opponents nearer their own goal-line. A player is not out of play in the case of a corner-kick, or when the ball is kicked off from goal, or when it has been last played by an opponent.

7. When the ball is played behind the goal-line by a player of the opposite side, it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal-line it went, within that half of the goal area 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-staff.[doib 4] In either case an opponent shall not be allowed within six yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

8. The goal-keeper may within his own half of the field of play use his hands, but shall not carry the ball. The goal-keeper shall not be charged, except when he is holding the ball or obstructing an opponent, or when he has passed outside the goal area. The goal-keeper may be changed during the game, but notice of such change must first be given to the referee. [doib 5]

9. Neither tripping, kicking, nor jumping at a player shall be allowed. A player (the goal-keeper excepted) shall not intentionally handle the ball under any pretence whatever. A player shall not use his hands to hold or push an opponent. A player shall not be charged from behind, unless he is intentionally impeding an opponent. [doib 6]

10. A goal may be scored from a free kick which is awarded because of any infringement of Law 9, but not from any other free kick. When a free kick has been taken, the ball shall not again be played by a kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off, corner-kick, and goal-kicks shall be free kicks within the meaning of this Law.

11. A player shall not wear any nails except such as have their heads driven in flush with the leather, or metal plates or projections, or gutta percha, on 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 shall be transverse and flat, not less than half an inch in width, and shall extend from side to side of the boot. Studs shall be round in plan, not less than half an inch in diameter, and in no case conical or pointed.[doib 7] Any player discovered infringing this law shall be prohibited from taking further part in the match. The referee shall, if required, examine the players' boots before the commencement of a match.

12. A referee shall be appointed whose duties shall be to enforce the laws and decide all disputed points; and his decision on points of fact connected with the play shall be final. He shall also keep a record of the game, and act as timekeeper. In the event of any ungentlemanly behaviour on the part of any of the players, the offender or offenders shall be cautioned, and if the offence is repeated, or in case of violent conduct without any previous caution, the referee shall have power to order the offending player or players off the field of play, and shall transmit the name or names of such player or players to his or their National Association, who shall deal with the matter.[doib 8] The referee shall have power to allow for time wasted, to suspend the game when he thinks fit and to terminate the game whenever, by reason of darkness, interference by spectators, or other cause, he may deem necessary; but in all cases in which a game is so terminated he shall report the same to the Association under whose jurisdiction the game was played, who shall have power to deal with the matter. The referee shall have power to award a free kick in any case in which he thinks the conduct of a player dangerous, or likely to prove dangerous, but not sufficiently so as to justify him in putting in force the greater powers vested in him. The power of the referee extends to offences committed when the play has been temporarily suspended, and when the ball is out of play.

13. 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-kick, goal-kick, or throw-in, and to assist the referee in carrying out the game in accordance with the laws.[doib 9] In the event of any undue interference or improper conduct by a linesman the referee shall have power to order him off the field of play and appoint a substitute, and report the circumstances to the National Association having jurisdiction over him, who shall deal with the matter.

14. In the event of a supposed infringement of the Laws, the ball shall be in play until a decision has been given.

15. 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 referee shall throw the ball up where it was when play was suspended, and it shall be in play when it has touched the ground. If the ball goes into touch or behind the goal-line before it is played by a player the referee shall again throw it up. The players on either side shall not play the ball until it has touched the ground.

16. In the event of any infringement of Laws 5, 6, 8, 10, or 15, a free kick shall be awarded to the opposite side, from the place where the infringement occurred. In the event of any intentional infringement of Law 9 outside the penalty area, or by the attacking side within the penalty area, a free kick shall be awarded to the opposite side from the place where the infringement occurred. In the event of any intentional infringement of Law 9 by the defending side within the penalty area the referee shall award the opponents a penalty kick,[doib 10] which shall be taken from the penalty kick mark under the following conditions:— All players, with the exception of the player taking the penalty kick and the opponents' goal-keeper, shall be outside the penalty area. The opponents' goal-keeper shall be within the goal area. The ball must be kicked forward. The ball shall be in play when the kick is taken, and a goal may be scored from a penalty kick; but the ball shall not be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. If necessary, time of play shall be extended to admit of the penalty kick being taken. A free kick shall also be awarded to the opposite side if the ball is not kicked forward, or is played a second time by the player who takes the penalty kick until it has been played by another player. The referee may refrain from putting the provisions of this law into effect in cases where he is satisfied that by enforcing them he would be giving an advantage to the offending side.

Definition of Terms[edit]

A place kick is a kick at the ball while it is on the ground in the centre of the field of play.

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 kickers' 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; i.e., it must make a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference. A place kick or a free kick must not be taken until the referee has given a signal for the same.

Carrying by the goal-keeper is taking more than two steps while holding the ball or bouncing it on the hand.

Knocking on is when a player strikes or propels the ball with his hands or arms.

Handling is intentionally playing the ball with the hand or arm, and tripping is intentionally throwing, or attempting to throw, an opponent by the use of the legs, or by stooping in front of or behind him.

Holding includes the obstruction of a player by the hand or any part of the arm extended from the body.

Touch is that part of the ground on either side of the field of play.

Plan of the Field of Play[edit]

Plan of the field of play 1902.png

Decisions of the International Board[edit]

  1. Decision of the International Board:— Touch and goal-lines must not be marked by a V-shaped rut.
  2. Decision of the International Board:— If this law is not complied with, the kick-off must be taken over again.
  3. Decision of the International Board:— The whole of the ball must have passed over the goal-line or touch-line before it is out of play.
  4. Decision of the International Board:— The corner-flag must not be removed when a corner-kick is being taken.
  5. Decision of the International Board:— If a goal-keeper has been changed without the referee being notified, and the new goal-keeper handles the ball within the penalty area, a penalty kick must be awarded.
  6. Decision of the International Board:— Cases of handling the ball, and tripping, pushing, kicking, or holding an opponent, and charging an opponent from behind, may so happen as to be considered unintentional, and when this is so no penalty must be awarded.
  7. Decision of the International Board:— Wearing soft india rubber on the soles of the boots is not a violation of law.
  8. Decision of the International Board:— All reports by referees to be made within three days after the occurrence.
  9. Decision of the International Board:— Linesmen, where neutral, should call the attention of the Referee to rough play or ungentlemanly conduct, and generally assist him to carry out the game in a proper manner.
  10. Decision of the International Board:— A penalty kick can be awarded irrespective of the position of the ball at the time the offence is committed. In the event of the ball touching the goal-keeper before passing between the posts when a penalty kick is being taken at the expiry of time, a goal is scored.

Notes[edit]

  1. Changes from 1903:
    • All Decisions of the International Board moved to footnotes
    • Law 4: append Decision of the International Board "The whole of the ball must have passed over the goal-line or touch-line before it is out of play"
    • Law 5: replace "(Note.-- This Law is complied with if the player has any part of both feet on the line when he throws the ball in.)" with "This Law is complied with if the player has any part of both feet on the line when he throws the ball in"
    • Law 9: replace "A player shall not be charged from behind, unless he is facing his own goal, and is also intentionally impeding an opponent" with "A player shall not be charged from behind, unless he is intentionally impeding an opponent"
    • Law 11: after "in no case conical or pointed" insert Decision of the International Board "Wearing soft india rubber on the soles of the boots is not a violation of law"
    • Law 13: after "assist the referee in carrying out the game in accordance with the laws" insert Decision of the International Board "Linesmen, where neutral, should call the attention of the Referee to rough play or ungentlemanly conduct, and generally assist him to carry out the game in a proper manner"
    For more information, see the minute book for this meeting. (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.