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Spirit and Intent of the Laws of Soccer




The spirit of the Laws of the Game of soccer is that the coaches of two teams are supposed to train their players and then let the players come together in a fair and sporting manner to determine the outcome of the match.  In effect, each coach is expected to prepare for “my eleven” versus “your eleven,” to not interfere as the players play the game, and may the best team win.  The game is for the players.  The coaches are to instill the knowledge of the Laws of the Game and the expectation of fair and sporting play in their players.


The intent of the Laws of the Game of soccer is to capture in written language the structure of the game and what represents a fair and sporting manner of play.   As with all written language, ideas are placed on paper in the best way possible, but their intended meaning may never quite be fully expressed.  Accordingly, referees are expected to apply the Laws of the Game to a match, with the spirit of the game in mind, using expanded interpretations of the Laws as provided by the IFAB, FIFA, and/or local organizations .  The referees are to try to let the players play the game with as little interference as possible.


Interpretations and applications of the Laws of the Game are contained within the Laws themselves, and the appendix to the Laws, “Practical Guidelines for Match Officials.  Referees are human, however, and do not interpret everything alike. 

The Laws and the Guidelines may be found on the IFAB website at:


All coaches must instill the Spirit and Intent of the Laws, as well versed in the Laws themselves, in their players.

Any undefined soccer words, terms, or phrases may be found in The ULTIMATE SOCCER DICTIONARY of American Terms available at Amazon.com.

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John C. Harves
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