RULES

There are 17 rules, or laws, of soccer. All players and parents should be familiar with them. The referee has to use discretion on many calls. And the refereee is human, trying to do his or her best. Officiating a soccer game is a difficult job.

We've attempted to look at the two most controversial rules: BALL OUT OF PLAY

The ball is out of play when the entire ball, either in the air or on the ground, crosses any of the lines surrounding the playing area, including the goal line. The referee also may stop play by blowing his whistle. OFFSIDES

This rule is often confusing. A player is offside if he is closer to the opponents' goal line than the ball at the moment the ball is last played unless (a) he is in his own half of the field; (b) there are two opponents closer to the goal than the offensiver player; (c) the ball was last touched by a defender; (d) he receives the ball directly from a goal kick, throw-in or corner kick of a dropped ball by the referee.

If offside is called, the opposing team receives an indirect free kick from the spot of the infraction.

However, a player in an offside position shall not be penalized unless, in the opinion of the referee, he is interfering with the play of an opponent or is seeking to gain an advantage by being offside.

Some examples: Offside

E receives ball from teammate C. E is offside because he is closer to the opponents' goal line than the two defenders. There is only one defender closer to the goal line and that is the goalkeeper. Not Offside

C passed the ball into a space.

Teammate E runds from Position 1 to Position 2.

E is not offside because at the moment the ball was last played by C he was behind the ball and had two defenders between him and the opponents' goal line.