Soccer's greatest stage, the World Cup, moves to Brazil, where the game is considered an artform and called the "jogo bonito," the beautiful game. A guide to understand the basics of the World's most popular sport, the World Cup competition, and some of the rules of the game:
Brazuca soccer ball
Called the "Brazuca" this World Cup, it is an informal term used by Brazilians to describe national pride in the Brazilian way of life.
Weight (ounces): 15.4
Circumference (inches): 27 to 28
Retail costs: $160
The ball has a unique 6-panel design with a surface texture similar to a basketball for better control.
Length of game
Regulation time is two 45-minute halves with a 15-minute half-time break. An allowance is made on each period for time lost due to injuries, substituting players, assessment to injured players, removal of injured players, and for wasting time. The added minutes call extra time, is monitored by the referee.
Before the game, 11 are designated starters and 12 are substitutes. When a player is subbed during the match, they may no longer take part in the match.
Only three players can be substituted in a match. When playing in knockout stage matches, teams may substitute players are effective at making penalty kicks, in case the needs to go to penalty kick to determine a winner.
*Includes the head coach, assistants, team doctor, and support personnel.
Soccer formations denote the number of players dedicated to a role: defenders, midfielders, forwards, and striker. They are listed from the back defensive line to the forwards and strikers up front.
You can typically see the formal formations at the start of the match and during restarts after a goal. However, once the match starts, team formations typically change in reaction to the opponent's play and on whether the team is in attack or defensive mode.
The two formations the US National Team typically uses have a "spine" of players organized vertically that cover about 70 percent of the field:
World Cup competition format
Determining a winner in group play
The team with the most goals wins but the match may end in a tie. The point system:
Advancing out of group play
After each team has played the other teams in the group, the two with the most points advance to the "Round of 16."" When there is a "points tie" between to teams, the criteria used to determine the winner:
1. Goal difference, goals-for minus goals-against, from all matches.
If still tied ...
2. Greatest number of goals scored in all matches.
3. Greatest number of points obtained in the match between the teams.
4. Goal difference between the teams.
5. Greater number of goals scored in all group matches.
6. Drawing of lots by the FIFA Organizing Committee.
Round of 16 to final
Called "knockout games" because the losing team is knocked out of the competition. A team "must" win in these matches by scoring more goals. If match ends in a tie after regulation time, two extra periods of 15 minutes are played.
If still tied, a penalty kick shootout is used to determine the winner.
The soccer field
All World Cup matches may be played on a natural or artificial turf surfaces. The dimensions and features of a soccer field used in international matches:
The "danger zone" if you are defending and the attacking team is knocking on the door. The goal-keeper can grab balls inside it. Also, if a defender commits a direct-kick foul here, a penalty kick from the 12-yard penalty marker can be awarded.
The flow of the game
Out of bounds
If the ball crosses the goal or side line it is out of play or in goal. The ball must "fully cross" the plane of the goal or side line to be out-of-bounds or counted as a goal.
Restarting the game
The only time a field player is allowed to touch the ball with his hands is to restart the game for out-of- bound balls over the sidelines. A player puts the ball back in play by grasping the ball with both hands, and throwing it back from behind his head with both feet planted on the ground.
When the attacking team knocks the ball over the defender"s goal line, the defending team puts it back in play with a "goal kick" from anywhere within the 6-yard goal box.
When the defending team sends the ball over their goal line, between the middle of the goal post and the corner area, the opposing team is awarded a direct kick from the corner area on the side it went out.
After a goal
When a team scores a goal, the game is restarted with the ball in the center spot just like at the start of the game. The team that was scored upon restarts the game.
Basic rules of the game
A foul is the result of an infraction of the rules by a player or team official resulting in a free kick being awarded to the other team. The kick can be either direct or indirect. For each, the offending players must stand at least 10 feet away from where the ball will be kicked.
Direct free kicks
It is awarded for serious rule violations including kicking, tripping, charging, jumping at, striking, or holding an opponent; handling the ball with the arms or hands. The ball can be shot at goal or passed to another teammate.
Indirect free kicks
The ball must be touched by at least one player before it can be passed or shot toward goal. Awarded when a player performs in a dangerous way, obstructs an opponent.
What red and yellow cards mean when the referee flashes them:
Yellow card (Caution)
Given for unsportsmanlike behavior, showing dissent, fouling players repeatedly or delaying the game.
If a player accumulates two yellows in a match they are expelled from that match and out the next one too. Yellow cards are cumulative during group stage and early knockout round matches. Accumulating two yellows in successive games also leads to a red card expulsion. A player's yellow cards are wiped clean prior to the quarterfinals.
Red card (Ejection)
Given for serious offenses and violent actions including dileberate attempts to injure another player, severe fouls on a player in scoring position, fighting, spitting, and foul language.
An ejected player is sent immediately off the field and cannot be substituted. He must also sit out the next match.
The most misunderstood rule, offside was designed to prevent players from "cherry picking" points around the goal. For an attacking player to be called "offside" he must:
1. Be receiving a pass from his teammate.
2. Be in position at the time of the pass where at least two defensive players are between him and the goal line.
3. Be in the opposing team's half of the field of play.
4. Be actively involved in the play.
An attacking player is behind the last defender when he receives a pass.
NO: Though only the goalkeeper stands between the receiving player (one player), the ball was passed when he was standing in his team's half. (Rule 3)
An attacking player is making a timed run for a leading pass and appears to be offside.
NO: At the time of the pass, the receiving player was lined up with the last defender. Two defending players stood between him and the goal line. (Rule 2)
An attacking player (B) is offside since he is behind the last defender (Rule 2) when the ball is passed to another teammate.
NO: Player B is in an offside position when the ball is passed to player A but is not actively involved in the play.(Rule 4)
PKs: Drama in the box
Teams do not like to give up one-on-one PK attemps in a match nor settle a match with a PK shootout.
When the defending team commits a major foul inside the penalty area, the referee awards a penalty kick to the opposing team. The rules: When the defending team commits a major foul inside the penalty area, the referee awards a penalty kick to the opposing team. The rules:
1. A direct kick is taken from the penalty marker.
2. The keeper can't move off the goal line until the ball is kicked.
3. Other players must stand outside the 18 until the kick.
The PK shootout
In matches after the group stage are still tied after the two overtime periods, the "winner" is determined by penalty kicks at penalty marker.
PK attempts to break a tie
Only players who are on the field of play at the end of the overtime period are eligible to participate in the shootout.
1ST ROUND: Five players from each team are selected and alternate kicks. If one team has scored more goals than the other possibly can, no more kicks are taken.
2D ROUND: If still tied, pairs of different players alternate shots until a team prevails. All eligible players must take a kick before any player can take a second kick.