LOTG: Law 1–The Field Of Play

Law 1: The Field Of Play

There are a few basics about the FOP that should be common knowledge for the new referee. There is not a lot here that you need to worry about as far as “Offenses” are concerned (unless someone “makes unauthorized markings on the field”–which probably isn’t going to happen during any of your games), but rather basic terms that you should be familiar with as a new soccer aficionado.

The Lines — “(The) lines belong to the areas of which they are boundaries.” There are a lot of lines on our soccer fields, and this statement means that each line is a part of the ‘area’ that it defines. The touch lines (sidelines) and the goal lines (the ends of the field) define the boundary (perimeter) of the entire soccer field. The ball is not out of the ‘field of play’ until it completely crosses one of these boundary lines (either on the ground or in the air).

The Goal Area line includes and is a part of the Goal Area. The Penalty Area line is a part of the Penalty Area. This means that until the whole of the ball passes completely over one of these lines it is still within that area. For example, on a Goal Kick (which you will learn about in Law 16), the ball is not “in play” until it has completely left the Penalty Area, which means the ball must be entirely past the PA line—completely, not partially. Note: this Law (16-Goal Kicks) will be changing for 2019/20, stay tuned.

Terminology – Obviously, one of the first things you have to do is get comfortable with the names of the different “lines” and “areas.” At first it may seem as though there are just too many terms to learn, like a foreign language, but soon they will all become part of your soccer vocabulary and roll easily off of the tongue. Get comfortable with the following field of play (FOP) terms, which can be found, identified, and illustrated in the 2018 LOTG (pp. 35-36). Remember, depending on which age division you are refereeing, there may not be some of these lines or markings (particularly in the younger divisions).

  • Touch Line
  • Goal Line
  • Halfway Line
  • Center Mark
  • Center Circle
  • Corner Arc
  • Corner Area
  • Goal Area (not goal box)
  • Penalty Area (not penalty box)
  • Penalty Mark