Association football pitch
An association football pitch (also known as a football pitch, football field or soccer field) is the playing surface for the game of association football made of turf. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play".

All line markings on the pitch
Pitch (sports)
A pitch is an open outdoor area for various activities. It is used in British and Australian English; the comparable term in American English is field...

 form part of the area which they define. For example, a ball on or above the touchline is still on the field of play; a ball on the line of the goal area is in the goal area; and a foul committed over the 16.5-metre (18-yard
A yard is a unit of length in several different systems including English units, Imperial units and United States customary units. It is equal to 3 feet or 36 inches...

) line has occurred in the penalty area
Penalty area
The penalty area , is an area of an association football pitch. It is rectangular and extends to each side of the goal and in front of it. Within the penalty area is the penalty spot , which is from the goal line, directly in-line with the centre of the goal...

. Therefore a ball must completely cross the touchline to be out of play, and a ball must wholly cross the goal line
Goal line
The goal line is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone from the field of play in American football and Canadian football. It is the line that must be crossed in order to score a touchdown...

 (between the goal posts) before a goal is scored; if any part of the ball is still on or above the line, the ball is still in play.

The field descriptions that apply to adult matches are described below. Note that due to the original formulation of the Laws in England and the early supremacy of the four British football associations within IFAB, the standard dimensions of a football pitch were originally expressed in imperial units. The Laws now express dimensions with approximate metric
Si, si, or SI may refer to :- Measurement, mathematics and science :* International System of Units , the modern international standard version of the metric system...

 equivalents (followed by traditional units in brackets), but use of the imperial units remains common in some countries, especially in the United Kingdom
United Kingdom
The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern IrelandIn the United Kingdom and Dependencies, other languages have been officially recognised as legitimate autochthonous languages under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages...


Pitch boundary

The pitch is rectangular in shape. The longer sides are called touchlines. The other opposing sides are called the goal line
Goal line
The goal line is the chalked or painted line dividing the end zone from the field of play in American football and Canadian football. It is the line that must be crossed in order to score a touchdown...

s. The two goal lines must be between 45 and 90 m (49.2 and 98.4 yd) and be the same length. The two touch lines must also be of the same length, and be between 90 and 120 m (98.4 and 131.2 yd) in length. However, in international matches, the goal lines must be between 64 and 75 m (70 and 82 yd) long and the touchlines must be between 100 and 110 m (109.4 and 120.3 yd).

Since 2007, in order to standardize the size of the football pitch for A international matches, the IFAB has decided to set a fixed size of 105 m long and 68 m wide, 7140 m², although as at 1 July 2011 this amendment is not reflected in the Laws of the Game. In 2008, the average English Premiership pitch measured 114 yard, with an average area of 8414 square yards (7,035.2 m²).
Although the term goal line is often taken to mean only that part of the line between the goalposts, in fact it refers to the complete line at either end of the pitch, from one corner flag to the other. In contrast, the term byline (or by-line) is often used to refer to that portion of the goal line outside the goalposts. This term is commonly used in football commentaries and match descriptions, such as this example from a BBC match report; "Udeze gets to the left byline and his looping cross is cleared..."


Goals are placed at the centre of each goal-line.
These consist of two upright posts placed equidistant from the corner flagposts, joined at the top by a horizontal crossbar. The inner edges of the posts must be 7.32 m (8 yds) apart, and the lower edge of the crossbar must be 2.44 m (8 feet) above the ground. Nets are usually placed behind the goal, though are not required by the Laws.

Goalposts and crossbar
- Structural engineering :* A primitive latch consisting of a post barring a door* The top tube of a bicycle frame* The horizontal member of many sports goals including those for hockey, association football, rugby league, rugby union and American football...

s must be white, and made of wood, metal or other approved material. Rules regarding the shape of goalposts and crossbars are somewhat more lenient, but they must conform to a shape that does not pose a threat to players.

A goal is scored when the ball completely crosses the goal line between the goal-posts, even if a defending player last touched the ball before it crossed the goal line (see own goal
Own goal
An own net occurs in goal-scoring games when a player scores a goal that is registered against his or her own team. It is usually accidental, and may be a result of an attempt at defensive play that failed or was spoiled by opponents....

). A goal may, however, be ruled illegal (and void by the referee) if the player who scored or a member of his team commits an offence under any of the laws between the time the ball was previously out of play and the goal being scored. It is also deemed void if a player on the opposing team commits an offence before the ball has passed the line, as in the case of fouls being committed, a penalty awarded but the ball continued on a path that caused it to cross the goal line.

History of football goals and nets

Football goals are first described in England
England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Scotland to the north and Wales to the west; the Irish Sea is to the north west, the Celtic Sea to the south west, with the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south separating it from continental...

 in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. In 1584 and 1602 respectively, John Norden
John Norden
John Norden was an English cartographer, chorographer and antiquary. He planned a series of county maps and accompanying county histories of England, the Speculum Britanniae...

 and Richard Carew referred to "goals" in Cornish hurling
Cornish Hurling
Cornish Hurling or Hurling the Silver Ball , is an outdoor team game of Celtic origin played only in Cornwall, United Kingdom. It is played with a small silver ball...

. Carew described how goals were made: "they pitch two bushes in the ground, some eight or ten foote asunder; and directly against them, ten or twelue [twelve] score off, other twayne in like distance, which they terme their Goales". The first reference to scoring a goal is in John Day
John Day (dramatist)
John Day was an English dramatist of the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods.-Life:He was born at Cawston, Norfolk, and educated at Ely. He became a sizar of Caius College, Cambridge, in 1592, but was expelled in the next year for stealing a book...

's play The Blind Beggar of Bethnal Green (performed circa 1600; published 1659): (an extremely violent variety of football, which was popular in East Anglia
East Anglia
East Anglia is a traditional name for a region of eastern England, named after an ancient Anglo-Saxon kingdom, the Kingdom of the East Angles. The Angles took their name from their homeland Angeln, in northern Germany. East Anglia initially consisted of Norfolk and Suffolk, but upon the marriage of...

). Similarly in a poem in 1613, Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton
Michael Drayton was an English poet who came to prominence in the Elizabethan era.-Early life:He was born at Hartshill, near Nuneaton, Warwickshire, England. Almost nothing is known about his early life, beyond the fact that in 1580 he was in the service of Thomas Goodere of Collingham,...

 refers to "when the Ball to throw, And drive it to the Gole, in squadrons forth they goe". Solid crossbars were first introduced by the Sheffield Rules
Sheffield Rules
The Sheffield Rules were a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1857 and 1877. They were devised by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for use by the newly founded Sheffield Football Club. The rules were subsequently adopted as the official rules of...

. Football nets were invented by Liverpool
Liverpool is a city and metropolitan borough of Merseyside, England, along the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. It was founded as a borough in 1207 and was granted city status in 1880...

 engineer John Brodie
John Alexander Brodie
John Alexander Brodie was a British civil engineer.Brodie began his professional career in 1875 working in the Mersey Docks and Harbour Board engineering department under Chief Engineer George Fosbery Lyster, following this he set up a private consultancy and spent some time working in Spain...

 in 1891.

Penalty and goal areas

Two rectangular boxes are marked out on the pitch in front of each goal.

The goal area (colloquially the "six-yard box"), consists of the area formed by the goal-line, two lines starting on the goal-line 5.5 m (6 yds) from the goalposts and extending 5.5 m (6 yds) into the pitch from the goal-line, and a line joining these. Goal kicks and any free kick 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
A dropped-ball is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is designed to offer no advantage to either side, generally being awarded when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay or misconduct.-Award:A drop-ball is not awarded to either team; rather...

 that would otherwise occur in the goal area are taken on this line.

The penalty area (colloquially "The 18 yard box" or just "The box") is similarly formed by the goal-line and lines extending from it, however its lines commence 16.5 m (18 yd) from the goalposts and extend 16.5 m (18 yds) into the field. This area has a number of functions, the most prominent being to denote where the goalkeeper
Goalkeeper (football)
In association football, the goalkeeper occupies a position that represents the last line of defence between the opponent's offence and his own team's goal. The primary role of the goalkeeper is to defend his team's goal and prevent the opposition from scoring a goal...

 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 (or "penalty spot") is 11 m (12 yds) in front of the very center of the goal; this is the point from where penalty kicks are taken. The penalty arc (colloquially "the D") is marked from the outside edge of the penalty area, 9.15 m (10 yds) from the penalty mark; this, along with the penalty area, marks an exclusion zone for all players other than the attacking kicker and defending goalkeeper during a penalty kick.

Other markings

The centre circle is marked at 9.15 m (10 yd) from the centre spot. Similar to the penalty arc, this indicates the minimum distance that opposing players must keep at kick-off; the ball itself is placed on the centre 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 pitch in two. The half which a team defends is commonly referred to as being theirs. Players must be within their own half at a kick-off and may not be penalised as being offside in their own half.

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, and there are lines off-pitch 10 yards away from the corner on the goal- and the touch-lines to help gauge these distances.


Grasses, or more technically graminoids, are monocotyledonous, usually herbaceous plants with narrow leaves growing from the base. They include the "true grasses", of the Poaceae family, as well as the sedges and the rushes . The true grasses include cereals, bamboo and the grasses of lawns ...

 is the normal surface of play, although artificial turf
Artificial turf
Artificial turf is a surface manufactured from synthetic fibers made to look like natural grass. It is most often used in arenas for sports that were originally or are normally played on grass. However, it is now being used on residential lawns and commercial applications as well...

may be used as well, especially in locations where maintenance of grass may be difficult due to inclement weather. This may include areas where it is very wet, causing the grass to deteriorate rapidly, where it is very dry, causing the grass to die, and where the turf is under heavy use. The latest artificial surfaces use rubber crumbs, as opposed to the previous system of sand infill.

Associated areas

Aside from the field of play, the Laws and by-laws can be used to regulate related areas off the field. The most prominent of these is the technical area, which defines the bench areas and nearby areas to which coaching and managing staff are generally restricted. At top level football grounds, the technical area is usually marked out with a dashed line. Note that the referee's authority extends not only to the field of play, but also its immediate surroundings, including the technical area.
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