Laws of the Game – Not just for referees to know.

A couple of weeks ago David James wrote a column in the Observer called Arrested development over football’s laws is absolutely criminal’ and I have to say it was certainly the most thought provoking piece I have written by a footballer.

James raises a very important issue about the beautiful game in saying ‘If a referee doesn’t know the rules of the game, what chance does a player have?’ Now, I think that referees and players alike should all know the rules of the game inside and out, because these days there seem to be too many injustices happening.

You’ve just got to look back at beachballgate, where Darren Bent scored through a deflected shot off an outside agent. But, at the time of the incident did anyone know Law 5? – In the event of interference by an outside agent, play should be stopped and restarted with a drop ball. No, of course they didn’t, even though this is football at its highest level, the Premier League, but they should have known this.

Since reading this column I have become very interested in the Laws of the Game and have begun reading You Are The Ref series in the Observer. It has got me thinking about the rules of the game and how much players and referees know. Of course in order to conduct their job properly all referees should know every single detail of the game, but I also think that players should too.

Football is now a very high tempo game, so every decision is important. We need justice in the game, not injustice. Therefore if the players and the referees each know the rules we won’t have incidents that make or break games.

When kids sign up as trainees for clubs they should all be put through a school of football, learning all the rules of the game, right down to the brass tacks. Education is a very important part of life, and if they are taught the rules of the game properly at such an early age we won’t have incidents that are scarring out game.

Like James states ‘referees should be regularly tested and the next generation of footballers should be given better instruction’

It is without doubt that referees’ have a tough job to do, but if they can work together with the players then there won’t be so many problems in football, everyone will be on a level playing field, and nobody will have the upper hand.

If anyone is looking to brush up on their knowledge of the game I would recommend reading the You Are The Ref series, as well as downloading FIFA’s Official Laws of the Game.

I think if everyone knows the finer details of the game it will become more efficient, everyone will be on par. As James also said, I would recommend everyone is tested regularly also, so that the game runs at the highest standard. There is no room for error any more, simple mistakes should not be made. The rules are there, and everyone should know them.



  1. Spot on.

    The Laws aren’t particularly hard – I read my niece’s copy (she’s a ref, runs up to U17 games) – and they’re short.

    Beyond stuff like the dimensions of the pitch, there’s not actually that much to know. It should be mandatory reading for all players, pundits, managers, columnists and so on – not just refs. Then they might talk less drivel (although that’s possibly asking too much).

  2. Cheers for the comment.

    I totally agree with you, they are not hard to read, dimensions of the pitch would be only for refs to know.

    You’ve actually raised an interesting point there, because pundits and columnists should also know the rules.

    Although, talking less drivel? I’m not so sure.

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