Obscure FIFA RulesThe “six second” rule isn’t the only usually observed, frequently enforced rule on the books
by Jeff Maurer | Friday, August 10, 2012
In the 80th minute of the United States’ 4-3 win over Canada in the women’s Olympic semi-final, Canadian goalkeeper Erin McLeod was whistled for failing to play the ball within six seconds. That call led to an indirect free kick, which led to a penalty kick, which led to a goal, which led to a US win. The replay showed that the call was correct; McLeod had held the ball for 11 seconds. Still, the Canadians were mad, and when a Canadian gets mad, you know it’s serious.
“I have never known this to happen in a game before,” McLeod said. “Referees never make this kind of decision.”
I have to say: McLeod has a bit of a point. In all the soccer I’ve watched over the years – and if I had devoted my soccer-watching time to learning foreign languages then I would probably speak and write every dialect of Chinese fluently – I have never seen that called. Never. That rule is in an obscure, dark corner of the rulebook, in between the rule that says that dogs can’t play soccer (Air Bud really put a scare into FIFA) and the rule stating that bribes paid to FIFA officials must be paid in the currency of the official’s choosing.
But there are lots of obscure rules in the FIFA rulebook; we just don’t know about them because they’re always adhered to and never called. Many of the things we see players do are, in fact, mandated by the rulebook. Below are some of the more obscure but uniformly-followed elements of the rules of soccer.
Law 9-3: The “Raising Your Hand on a Corner Kick” rule: Before playing a corner kick, you must raise your hand and then drop it. Though everyone in the stadium can plainly see when you are about to approach the ball, you still need to do this.
Law 14-2: The “Three Taps” rule: Before playing a goal kick, the ‘keeper must remove mud from his cleats by tapping each shoe on the goalpost three times. This is sometimes referred to as the “Rain Man” rule.
Law 8-2: Permissible warm-ups: Permissible sideline warm-up exercises are limited to “that one where you sprint in place for two seconds and then jog for five feet,” “the one where you sort of grapevine sideways and swivel your hips like you’re on Broadway,” and “that one where you kick one leg really high like you’re in the Ministry of Silly Walks.”
Law 10-2: The Distance of Ten Yards, As Measured By the Referee. Should equal about eight, maybe nine yards.
Law 15-1: The “Fishing the Ball Out of the Back of the Net Quickly” rule: When a team that is trailing scores, they must quickly fish the ball out of the net and run it back to the center circle. They must do this even if they are down by five goals in the 89th minute. This gesture shows fans that the team is hustling and working hard, though if they had worked hard through the entire match they probably wouldn’t be down five goals to begin with.
Law 13-3: Appropriate Number of Rolls After a Dive: The appropriate number of rolls after a dive is two rolls for every foot away from you the closest defender was located. This number should be multiplied by two if the nearest defender is on a yellow card. To that number you should then add one revolution for every Revolution that has occurred in your country over the past 50 years (ed note: this is why rolling is particularly prevalent in South America).
Law 16-2: Appropriate Number of Blonde Guys on the Japanese National Team: Should be no fewer than nine.
Law 17-3: England May Never Win a Penalty Kick Shootout. Applies to Great Britain, too.