Law 1: Field of Play
Most of the rest of the world refers to the game of soccer as football (known formally as association football). As such, a soccer field is called either a football pitch or football field in most other parts of the world. According to the Laws of the Game, “The Field of Play” is defined by markings on the field to designate areas of play. The longer lines on the sides of the field (where the players sit on one side and the fans on the other) are referred to as the touchlines. The two lines that run perpendicular to these lines are referred to as the goal lines. The entire ball must cross the entire line for a goal to be scored and for the ball to be considered out of bounds. See more on touchline. The area designated by the 18 yard line is referred to as the penalty area.
In summary, the field is rectangular in shape. The longer sides are touchlines. The other opposing sides are called the goal lines. The two goal lines must be between 50 and 100 yards. The two touch lines must be between 100 and 130 yards in length. This requirement is different for international matches in which case the goal lines must be between 70 and 80 yards long and the touchlines must be between 110 and 120 yards. All lines must be equally wide, not exceeding 5 inches wide. The corners of the pitch are marked by corner flags. These dimensions are for adult matches, for youth matches, the size of the field may be smaller.
A goal is scored when the ball crosses the goal line between the goal-posts, regardless of which player touched it last. (see own goal). If a foul is committed by the attacking team prior to the goal being scored, the referee can deem the goal void and therefore not a goal.
Penalty and goal areas
The penalty area is designated by the line drawn 18 yards from the goal line and there is a smaller box drawn on the field marking 6 yards called the goal area. A penalty area is designated on either side of the field in front of each goal. This area has a number of functions, including designating where the goalkeeper may handle the ball and where a foul by a defender, usually punished by a direct free kick, becomes punishable by a penalty kick. The penalty mark is 12 yards from the very center of the goal, this is the exact location where penalty kicks are taken.
The goal area is the marked off area extending 6 yards from each of the goal posts. Goal kicks and any free kicks by the defending team may be taken from anywhere in this area. Indirect free kicks awarded to the attacking team within the goal area must be taken from the point on the line parallel to the goal line nearest where an incident occurred; they can not be taken further within the goal-area. Similarly drop-balls that would otherwise occur in the goal area are taken on this line.
Other markings on the field
The center circle is 10 yards from the centre spot, this circle indicates the minimum distance that opposing players must keep at kick-off. At the beginning of the game and after goals are scored, the ball is placed on the center spot. During penalty shootouts all players other than the two goalkeepers and the current kicker are required to remain within this circle.
The half-way line divides the field in two, each half being defended by one team. Field players must be within their own half at a kick-off.
The arcs in the corners denote the area (within 1 yard of the corner) in which the ball has to be placed for corner kicks; other players have to be 10 yards away during a corner kick.
Grass is the normal surface of play, although artificial turf may also be used, especially in locations where maintenance of grass may be difficult due to inclement weather. The strain put on grass pitches by the cold climate and subsequent snow clearing has necessitated the installment of artificial turf in the stadiums located in colder climates. The latest technology in artificial surfaces use rubber crumbs. At the professional level, all artificial turfs must be green and also meet the requirements specified in the FIFA Quality Concept for Football Turf.