How Does a Soccer Game Begin?


A soccer game begins with much pageantry at the World Cup Final level and just a bit of happy chatter among teammates at an informal league game. Still, regardless of the level of play, a number of basic steps are fundamental to kick off in according with the rules of the game.

Singing of the Anthems

In a standard league soccer match, there is relatively little preamble before the actual kickoff. The players take to the field of play as soon as the captains and the lead referee complete the coin toss. For international matches, though, the singing of each team’s national anthem is standard. After walking out often hand in hand with child mascots, the players line up in in a row along the middle of the pitch while each anthems is played in turn.

Let's Toss a Coin

The match referee and two team captains go to the center of the field for the coin toss. One of the team captains chooses heads or tails before the referee tosses the coin. In accordance with the FIFA Laws of the Game, the team that wins the toss decides which goal it will attack in the first half of the match. The team that loses the coin toss takes the kick-off to start the match.

Players Take Position

All the players must be in their own half of the field when the kick-off is taken. The rules state that the opponents of the team taking the kickoff must be at least 10 yards, from the ball until the kick-off is taken. The 10-yard circle in the center of the pitch helps to ensure that no opposing players enter this area before the kickoff is taken.

And the Kickoff

The ball is placed on the center spot within the 10 yard center circle. As soon as the referee blows his whistle, the team taking the kickoff can kick the ball. The player taking the kick-off cannot touch the ball again until it has been touched by another player, generally one of his team-mates standing nearby. The referee’s whistle also signals that the ball is in play, at which point the opposing team can enter the center circle to challenge for the ball.

Avoiding Infringements

Infringements rarely occur during a kickoff. But if the player taking the kickoff touches the ball twice before it has been passed to another player, then a free kick is awarded to the opposing team. Any other infringement of the kickoff procedure requires that the kickoff be taken again.