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5 Football Rules You Never Knew Existed

We all think we know football inside and out. Offside rule? No problem. Keepers picking up the ball from a back pass? Easy. We see those rules play out every week, but there are some more obscure football rules even the most dedicated fan might not know about.

1. You can’t score an own goal from a free-kick or throw in

If your player passes a free-kick or throw in back to the keeper and the ball ends up in the goal it doesn’t count as an own goal. Instead, a corner is awarded to the opposing team.

This doesn’t happen very often but in one Midlands derby, Aston Villa’s Mellberg ended up throwing the ball into his own net. If Enckelman hadn’t touched the ball before it went in the goal wouldn’t have counted, but he was judged to have mishit it off his laces. Unlucky.

2. A goal kick has to leave the 18 yard box to be in play

If a keeper’s goal kick doesn’t leave the 18-yard box before it’s next touched, the kick is retaken.

This happened to Joe Hart in a game against QPR where he mis-hit his kick and touched the ball a second time, meaning Charlie Austin’s resulting goal was disallowed and the goal kick was retaken.

3. Goalkeepers can only hold the ball for 6 seconds

You might know this rule from playing FIFA but have you ever actually seen a ref enforce the 6-second rule? It seems like it’s a rule most officials ignore but Mignolet fell victim to it for Liverpool against Bordeaux after he held onto the ball for a whopping 22 seconds.

4. Once the keeper has released the ball he can’t pick it up again until another player has touched it

If a keeper has the ball in his possession and releases it, he can’t then pick it up again before another player has touched it. If he does, an indirect free-kick is awarded to the opposing team.

5. You can’t avoid the no back pass rule by flicking the ball up and chesting or heading back to your keeper

We’ve all seen it. A player tries to get around the back pass rule by attempting to pass the ball with another part of their body, but it’s not actually legal. They often get away with it, but Verratti got a yellow card for this effort. Nice try, mate.

Let us know any strange football rules you’ve come across. If you’re missing the football season you don’t need to wait until August. Head to our football pages in London, Manchester and Dublin to book your nearest pitch now.