Football Terms



To end/terminate a match before the scheduled finish

Additional time

Time allowed at the end of each half for time ‘lost’ because of substitutions, injuries, disciplinary action, goal celebrations etc.


The referee allows play to continue when an offence has occurred if this benefits the non-offending team

Assessment of injured player

Quick examination of an injury, usually by a medical person, to see if the player requires treatment

Away goals rule

Method of deciding a match/tie when both teams have scored the same number of goals; goals scored away from home count double



An act which is savage, ruthless or deliberately violent



Disciplinary sanction which results in a report to a disciplinary authority; indicated by showing a yellow card; two cautions in a match result in a player or team official being sent off


An action when a player competes/contests with an opponent for the ball

Charge (an opponent)

Physical challenge against an opponent, usually using the shoulder and upper arm (which is kept close to the body)

Concussion substitution
A competition option that allows each team to make an extra substitution (and grants them an extra substitution opportunity, where applicable) if one of their players suffers an actual or suspected concussion
See ‘Additional permanent concussion substitutions protocol’

‘Cooling’ break

In the interests of player welfare and safety, competition rules may allow, in certain weather conditions (high humidity and temperatures), ‘cooling’ breaks (usually ninety seconds to three minutes) to allow the body’s temperature to fall; these are different from ‘drinks’ breaks



Act to mislead/trick the referee into giving an incorrect decision/disciplinary sanction which benefits the deceiver and/or their team


An action which the player intended/meant to make; it is not a ‘reflex’ or unintended reaction

Direct free kick

A free kick from which a goal can be scored by kicking the ball directly into the opponents’ goal without having to touch another player


Judgment used by a referee or other match official when making a decision


Public protest or disagreement (verbal and/or physical) with a match official’s decision; punishable by a caution (yellow card)


Disturb, confuse or draw attention (usually unfairly)

‘Drinks’ break

Competition rules may allow ‘drinks’ breaks (of no more than one minute) for players to rehydrate; these are different from ‘cooling’ breaks

Dropped ball

A method of restarting play – the referee drops the ball for one player of the team that last touched the ball (except in the penalty area where the ball is dropped for the goalkeeper); the ball is in play when it touches the ground


Electronic performance and tracking system (EPTS)

System which records and analyses data about the physical and physiological performance of a player

Endanger the safety of an opponent

Put an opponent at danger or risk (of injury)

Excessive force

Using more force/energy than is necessary

Extra time

A method of trying to decide the outcome of a match involving two equal additional periods of play not exceeding 15 minutes each



An action which attempts to confuse an opponent. The Laws define permitted and ‘illegal’ feinting

Field of play (pitch)

The playing area confined by the touchlines and goal lines and goal nets where used


Goal line technology (GLT)

Electronic system which immediately informs the referee when a goal has been scored i.e. the ball has wholly passed over the goal line in the goal (see Law 1 for details)


Holding offence

A holding offence occurs only when a player’s contact with an opponent’s body or equipment impedes the opponent’s movement

Hybrid system

A combination of artificial and natural materials to create a playing surface which requires sunlight, water, air circulation and mowing



To delay, block or prevent an opponent’s action or movement

Indirect free kick

A free kick from which a goal can only be scored if another player (of any team) touches the ball after it has been kicked


To prevent a ball reaching its intended destination



The ball is kicked when a player makes contact with it with the foot and/or the ankle

Kicks from the penalty mark

See ‘Penalties (penalty shoot-out)’



Insignificant, minimal



An action which breaks/violates the Laws of the Game

Offensive, insulting or abusive language/action(s)

Verbal or physical behaviour which is rude, hurtful, disrespectful; punishable by a sending-off (red card)

Outside agent

Any animal, object or structure, etc., as well as any person who is not a match official or on the team list (players, substitutes and team officials)



To punish, usually by stopping play and awarding a free kick or penalty kick to the opposing team (see also Advantage)

Penalties (penalty shoot-out)

Previously ‘Kicks from the penalty mark’
Method of deciding the result of a match by each team alternately taking kicks until one team has scored one more goal and both teams have taken the same number of kicks (unless during the first five kicks for each team, one team could not equal the other team’s score even if they scored from all their remaining kicks)

Penalty shoot-out

See ‘Penalties (penalty shoot-out)’


Action by a player which makes contact with the ball

Playing distance

Distance to the ball which allows a player to touch the ball by extending the foot/leg or jumping or, for goalkeepers, jumping with arms extended. Distance depends on the physical size of the player


Quick free kick

A free kick taken (with the referee’s permission) very quickly after play was stopped



Any action (usually a tackle or challenge) by a player which disregards (ignores) the danger to, or consequences for, the opponent


Any method of resuming play after it has been stopped

Restart position

A player’s position at a restart is determined by the position of their feet or any part of their body which is touching the ground, except as outlined in Law 11 – Offside



Disciplinary action taken by the referee


An action by a player to stop or attempt to stop the ball when it is going into or very close to the goal using any part of the body except the hands/arms (unless a goalkeeper within their own penalty area)


Disciplinary action when a player is required to leave the field for the remainder of the match having committed a sending-off offence (indicated by a red card); if the match has started the player cannot be replaced. A team official may also be sent off.

Serious foul play

A tackle or challenge for the ball that endangers the safety of an opponent or uses excessive force or brutality; punishable by a sending-off (red card)


A piece of equipment worn to help protect a player’s shin from injury. Players are responsible for wearing shinguards made of a suitable material and of an appropriate size to provide reasonable protection, and they must be covered by the socks


A garment worn over a player’s upper body as part of a team’s uniform. Apart from the length of the sleeves, the shirts of all players in a team are the same, except for the goalkeeper, whose shirt distinguishes them from the other players and the match officials


Physical indication from the referee or any match official; usually involves movement of the hand or arm or flag, or use of the whistle (referee only)


An action which creates a wrong/false impression that something has occurred when it has not (see also Deceive); committed by a player to gain an unfair advantage

Spirit of the game

The main/essential principles/ethos of football as a sport but also within a particular match (see Law 5)


To stop a match for a period of time with the intention of eventually restarting play e.g. due to fog, heavy rain, thunderstorm, serious injury



A challenge for the ball with the foot (on the ground or in the air)

Team list

Official team document usually listing the players, substitutes and team officials

Team official

Any non-player listed on the official team list e.g. coach, physiotherapist, doctor (see Technical staff)

Technical area

Defined area (in stadiums) for the team officials which includes seating (see Law 1 for details)

Technical staff

Official non-playing team members listed on the official team list e.g. coach, physiotherapist, doctor (see Team official)

Temporary dismissal

A temporary suspension from the next part of the match for a player guilty of some/all cautionable offences (depending on competition rules)


Undue interference

Action/influence which is unnecessary 

Unsporting behaviour

Unfair action/behaviour; punishable by a caution


Violent conduct

An action, which is not a challenge for the ball, which uses or attempts to use
excessive force or brutality against an opponent or when a player deliberately
strikes someone on the head or face unless the force used is negligible