How to play the game of soccer
It's been called "the beautiful game." Soccer, the most popular sport in the world, draws an unwavering devotion from its fans. Yet soccer as a spectator sport has never quite caught on in Canada, despite growing youth participation rates and a series of professional leagues. Still, we've had star players and tasted World Cup play, and many immigrant communities have imported their passion to Canada. CBC Archives looks at soccer in the Great White North.
. According to FIFA, the world's governing body for soccer, the playing area (or pitch) can range from 90 to 120 metres long and 45 to 90 metres wide. By comparison, a North American football field is about 110 metres long and 48 metres wide.
. The soccer ball must be made of leather or "other suitable material," and must measure between 68 and 70 centimetres in circumference.
. There are 11 players on each side, including the keeper, or goaltender. Other positions include defenders, midfielders, and strikers.
. The coach may make a maximum of three substitutions - replacing players on the field - during a game.
. Players (aside from the keeper) may not direct the movement of the ball with their hands or arms. Any other part of the body can influence its movement, but feet are most often used to control it.
Some of the information in this 1998 clip is outdated. According to the FIFA rule book, a player is offside when he or she is closer to the goal line than either the ball or the second-last opponent.
It's not an offence to simply be offside. However, if a player in an offside position is perceived by the referee to interfere with the play or an opponent, or to have an unfair advantage, an offence is called.
. Penalties in soccer take the form of free kicks or penalty kicks, depending on where the offence happens.
. If a player kicks, trips, charges or otherwise fouls an opponent, the referee may award a direct free kick to the aggrieved team. The ball is placed at the point where the foul happened, and opponents must stay at least 10 metres away while the kicker takes a shot.
. Misconduct may also earn players a yellow card or red card from the referee. When a player commits one of seven offences, among them "unsporting behaviour," "dissent by word or action," and delay of game, the referee shows a yellow card as a warning.
. A second offence earns a red card and automatic eviction from the match. No replacement player can be sent in. In some circumstances referees can also give a red card without a warning.
. A match consists of two 45-minute periods. At the end of the first half, goalkeepers switch sides.
. The referee will add time - exactly how much is known only to him - to the end of the match. This makes up for time lost due to stoppages such as substitutions and injuries.
. If the match ends in a tie, the game will go into "extra time" - two 15-minute periods. If that's not sufficient to decide a crucial match, penalty kicks will determine the winner.
Broadcast Date: June 12, 1998
Guest(s): Nick Murray
Reporter: Nancy Russell
Last updated: January 17, 2012
Page consulted on May 13, 2013
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