soccer (football)

Field

The dimensions of the playing field are not fixed. The original (1863) association rules said only that the field couldn't be bigger than 100 yards by 200 yards; in 1875 they added that it couldn't be smaller than 50 yards by 100 yards. The present dimensions were laid down in 1897; 100–130 yards by 50–100 yards for domestic matches; 110–120 yards by 70–80 yards for international matches.

drawing of soccer field with dimensions

Goal posts

The goal posts must be white. The distance between the inside surfaces of the goalposts is 24 feet (7.32 meters).  The distance from the lower edge of the crossbar to the ground is 8 feet (2.44 m).  Goalposts and crossbar can have a round or rectangular cross section, but they must be the same, with neither width nor depth exceeding 12 centimeters (5 inches).  The goal lines are to be the same width as the goalposts and crossbar.

All goals must be anchored securely to the ground.  Players and bystanders have been killed when struck by steel goals tipping over, see: www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/00025372.htm 

Ball

The ball is between 27 and 28 inches in circumference. Its mass at the start of a game must be between 14 and 16 ounces, inflated at a pressure between 0.6 and 1.1 atmospheres (about 8.8 to 16.2 pounds per square inch).

Under the original 1863 rules, the ball was 13 to 15 ounces; it was given the modern weight in 1937. In 1905, a rule was added requiring a leather cover; nowadays other “approved materials” are permitted.

Younger Players

Soccer is unusual in that the international rules specifically permit national associations to modify the field, ball, and periods of play for players who are under 16 or over 35, female, or have disabilities.

photo of number 5 ball

For younger players, balls are made in various sizes:

Studies have found that the use of adult balls by children significantly increases the risk of fractures of the hands or wrists of the goalkeeper.ยน

1. K. T. Boyd, P. Brownson and J. B. Hunter.
Distal radial fractures in young goalkeepers: a case for an appropriately sized soccer ball.
British Journal of Sports Medicine, vol. 35, pages 409-411 (2001).

For recommended field dimensions for younger players in the United States, see www.ucs.mun.ca/~dgraham/lotg/youth.html 

In Europe, dimensions of fields for young players have been standardized as mini-soccer. Diagrams of 4 different field sizes (for under 7's, under 8's,, under 9's and under 10's are provided at www.soccerpitch.com/minipitch.pdf 

Resources

www.fifa2.com has the entire Fédération Internationale de Football Association rule book available as a PDF file.

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