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The Laws of Soccer 101: Starting Play

The 8th Law of Soccer deals with many things, but what it is really about is how play is started and (when necessary) restarted. It sets forth how the pre-game coin toss is regulated, and it determines when play begins and begins anew. For example, kick offs – pursuant to Law #8, occur at the start of halfs, after goals, and at the start of extra time periods.

While this rule does not cover too much, I did learn a few things by perusing it. For example, the 8th Law of Soccer states that in rare occasions, the ref must call for a “dropped ball”. According to the rule, this occurs when the ref “is required to stop play temporarily for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game.” Ummm…

I am confused. Why would the ref stop play if he wasn’t required to do so by the other Laws of the Game? Bathroom break? Important phone call? New Gossip Girl episode? Who knows? Anyways, when the ball is dropped, no player can touch it before it hits the ground, at which time it becomes a live ball. Such a method reminds me more of hockey.

But, the 8th Law is mostly about kickoffs, so how about your pop quiz question. Which of the following must occur before a kickoff?

A. All players must be on their own half of the field.

B. The opponents of the team kicking off must be ten yards back.

C. The referee must give the signal.

D. All of the Above.

It’s (D), of course. There are a couple of extra rules related to kickoffs though that are less known. One is that the player who first touches the ball (i.e., “kicks off”) cannot touch the ball again until a teammate has touched it. The second is that a player can score a goal on the kickoff. This is something I have never seen or even heard about.

In the end, this Law is pretty boring and a tough one for the ref to botch. The next Law we will discuss (which involves the ball going in and out of play) is similar to this one, but much more controvesial. So, come back soon to learn more about the Laws of Soccer.