Three Football Laws You Never Knew Existed

“The law is a two-edged sword, serving justice on both ends” is not an unpopular quote in our society today. However, in sports and football in particular, this is not entirely true as the laws guiding the game have a sharp edge hurting one team and an edge made of cotton soothing the other, especially in moments of controversies. Football, the most popular sport in the world, is guided by laws stipulated by the International Football Association Board (IFAB). The existence of the following three laws may surprise you.

Have you ever thought of a football team fielding an extra player and perhaps the player goes on to score or influence a goal? Although all referees have the responsibility of ensuring that each team do not field an extra player, this is quite possible. However, the law clearly states that if a goal is scored and the referee realizes before play restarts that an extra person was on the field of play when the goal was scored, the referee must disallow the goal if the extra person was:

A player, substitute, substituted player, sent-off player, or a team official of the team that scored the goal or an outside agent who interfered with play. Play is restarted with a direct free kick from the position of the extra player.

The referee must allow the goal if the extra person was:

  • A player, substitute, substituted player, sent-off player or a team official of the team that conceded the goal
  • An outside agent who did not interfere with play.

If after a goal is scored and play has restarted, the referee realizes an extra person was on the field of play, the referee must stop play, have the extra person removed and restart with a dropped ball or free-kick as appropriate.

Are players still allowed to celebrate a goal anyhow they feel like? Gone are the days when a player is allowed to celebrate anyhow he wishes, now they are bound by stricter rules.

The law now clearly states that players can celebrate when a goal is scored, but the celebration must not be excessive, choreographed celebrations are not encouraged and must not cause excessive time wasting.

Leaving the field of play to celebrate a goal is not a yellow-card offense but the player should return as soon as possible.

A player is cautioned or yellow-carded, even if the goal is disallowed, for:

  • Climbing onto the perimeter fence and/or approaching the spectators in a manner that causes safety and/or security issues.
  • Gesturing or acting in a provocative or derisory way.
  • Covering the head or face with a mask or other similar item.
  • Removing the shirt or covering the head with a shirt.
  • Although acrobatic displays during a goal celebration is still being reviewed, for now, it is not a cautionable offense.

Do you still wonder how weird an indirect free-kick in the penalty area looks? Although a goalkeeper handling a back pass from a teammate seem to be the most popular reason for awarding an indirect free-kick in the penalty area, there are still several other reasons.

An indirect free-kick is awarded in the penalty area if the goalkeeper commits any of the following offences inside their penalty area:

  • Controls the ball with the hand or arms for more than six seconds before releasing it but the law permits no more than two intermittent bounces in situations when the ball stays longer than six seconds with the goalkeeper.
  • Touches the ball with an arm or hand after releasing the ball before it has touched another player.
  • Touches the ball with the arm or hand unless the goalkeeper has clearly kicked or attempted to kick the ball to release it into play, after receiving it from a throw-in taken by a teammate or it has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by the teammate.

Football can be favorable sometimes and unfavorable at other times but these laws will definitely be applied whenever the need arises.

Reference: Laws Of The Game – International Football Association Board (IFAB)

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