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Soccer For Dummies

matt ·
Soccer For Dummies

With the World Cup dominating sports headlines across the globe, many have realized that the “beautiful game” can at times be quite confusing. As an avid soccer fan, I will take a moment to attempt to explain some of the finer nuances of the game. If you are looking for an explanation as to why the United States had their potentially game-winning goal versus Slovenia disallowed then you are out of luck. The decision by the Malian referee has seemingly remained a mystery but the past is the past and there is plenty more that can be clarified for the casual soccer observer.


It is relatively common knowledge that harsh fouls in soccer result in players being penalized by the referee with cards. There are two different color cards, yellow for more minor infractions and red for major violations. Red cards result in a player being removed for the remainder of the match. Two yellow cards also equal a red and the players ejection from the match. In tournaments such as the World Cup, card rules can differ but for this years event the rule is that a red card or the accumulation of two yellows results in the player missing his team’s next match. For example, Brazil’s star midfielder Kaka received two yellow cards in the team’s last match against the Ivory Coast and was removed from the game. That means that Kaka will also be forced to miss Brazils next game versus Portugal.


The offside rule in soccer is one of the simplest yet least understood in the sport. To remain onside the most forward attacking player must be even with or behind the last defender before the ball is played to him.

Stoppage Time

One of the most commonly asked questions about the sport of soccer is why the clock does not stop during the game. Often times the ball rolls out of bounds or players are injured and several minutes will pass without the game being played. In these circumstances time is not necessarily wasted due to the fact that the referee simply has a stopwatch and keeps track of the time that play is not in progress. It is then his discretion as to how much time to add to the end of the half and game. For example, once the full 90 minutes have been played you will often times see a +3 or some other number in that range next to the clock. That means that the referee has added an extra 3 minutes to be played.

Common Terms

Nil- refers to a team not having scored a goal. Synonym for 0.

Volley- player kicking the ball while it is in the air.

Cross- player passes the ball from a wide position into the box.

Upper 90- player shoots the ball into the upper corner of the goal, were the post meets the crossbar. 

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