The Rules of the Game: Soccer is very simple to understand. Each team can field eleven players at any one time and they can make substitutions at any point in a game. The number of changes is dependent on the league, but in the current era three substitutions is the accepted norm across the leagues.
A game of soccer will last for two separate periods, each lasting forty-five minutes. The time between the periods is called half-time and lasted for approximately ten minutes.
Each team defends one half of the pitch in order to prevent the opposing team from scoring a goal in the net at the end of the pitch. Soccer coaches have developed various methods to create ways to improve the offensive and defensive tactics of the game.
Generally modern teams will defend the goal using four defenders and a player who protects the goal, known as the goal keeper. Offensively, the coach selects four players in midfield and two strikers to create and score the goals.
With the exception of the goal keeper, the players can not handle the ball. Instead, good play is developed by passing the ball in various ways to attempt to breach the opponent's defense. Goal scoring is low in the professional soccer game with most matches decided by just one or two goals.
There is a lot of terminology used during a game of soccer that is very specific. To the casual viewer this can appear confusing. The most important factor to consider is discipline. The game is mediated by one referee on the pitch and two further officials known as linesman on either side of the pitch.
If a player attempts to take the ball from an opponent but misses and instead makes contact with the player, the referee will regard this as a foul and stop the game and award a free kick to the fouled team. Dependent up on the severity of the foul, the referee can issue the player with either a yellow or a red card.
A yellow card indicates to the player that they risk being issued with a red card later in the game. The red card indicates that the player must leave the game immediately. In these circumstances they are not allowed to return for the remainder of the game.
On each side of the pitch the defense protects the goal. Directly in front of the goal is a marked rectangular area. If the referee deems that a foul has occurred in this area by a member of the defense, a penalty kick is awarded. When this occurs, a member of the offense is given the opportunity to score a goal against the opposition goalkeeper without the defense able to assist.
Finally, perhaps the most confusing law is the offside rule. At its simplest interpretation, an offensive player cannot be ahead of the defense as the play develops. This is regarded as attempting to gain an unfair advantage and if seen by any of the referees will result in a free kick for the defense.
This rule is responsible for many of the debates and controversies that surround the game of soccer. The referee's interpretation ultimately can decide who wins a game. At present, despite calls to introduce video technology to assist the officials nothing has been forthcoming.