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Football Diaries: A history of football rules

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The first written football rules by the FA in 1863


Rules of football
The first written rules of football

1. The maximum length of the ground shall be 200 yards. The minimum breadth shall be 100 yards and the length and breadth shall be marked off with flags. Moreover, the goals shall be defined by two upright posts, 8 yards apart, without a tape or bar across them.

2. The winner of the toss shall have the choice of goals. Moreover, the game shall be commenced by a place kick from the center of the ground by the side losing the toss, the other side shall not approach within 10 yards of the ball until it is kicked off.

3. After a goal is won the losing side shall kick off and goals shall be changed.

4. A goal shall be won when the ball passes between the goalposts or over the space between the goalposts (at whatever height), not being thrown, knocked on, or carried.

5. When the ball is in touch the first player who touches it shall throw it from the point on the boundary line where it left the ground, in a direction at right angles with the boundary line.

6. When a player has kicked the ball any one of the same side who is nearer to the opponent’s 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, but no player is out of play when the ball is kicked from behind the goal line.

7. In case the ball goes behind the goal line if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free-kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick (but at the goal only) from a point 15 yards from the goal line opposite the place where the ball is touched. The opposing side shall stand behind their goal line until he has had his kick.

8. If a player makes a fair catch he shall be entitled to a free-kick, provided he claims it by making a mark with his heel at once, and in order to take such kick he may go as far back as he pleases. Moreover, no player on the opposite side shall advance beyond his mark until he has kicked.

9. No player shall carry the ball.

10. Neither tripping nor hacking shall be allowed. Moreover, no player shall use his hands to hold or push his adversary.

11. A player shall not throw the ball or pass it to another with his hands.

12. No player shall take the ball from the ground with his hands while it is in play under any pretense whatever.

13. No player shall wear projecting nails, iron plates, or gutta-percha on the soles or heels of his boots.