FIFA World Cup Rules List

FIFA World Cup Rules List

The FIFA World Cup is the largest soccer competition in the world. Since 1930, international teams have been competing in the tournament every four years. The FIFA World Cup has many different rules. Some are normal rules included in every professional soccer game, while others are specific to the World Cup. Read below to learn about the FIFA World Cup rules:

What are the Rules of the FIFA World Cup?

  • Laws of the Game: All FIFA World Cup matches follow the FIFA Laws of the Game.
  • Game Length: All matches will be standard international length of 90 minutes with stoppage time and additional time added according to IFAB rules.
  • Substitutions: Five substitutions are allowed per game.
  • Extra Time: If a knockout stage game is tied at the end of regulation, two 15-minute extra time periods are played.
  • Penalty Shootouts: If a knockout stage game is tied at the end of extra time, a penalty shootout will take place. Each team has five players shoot.
  • Group Stage Match Drawing: If a group stage match is tied at the end of regulation, the game will end in a draw.
  • Group Stage Format: Each team is placed in a four-team group and plays every other team once in the group stage. Three points are awarded for a win, one point for a tie, and none for losses.
  • Knockout Stage Format: The top two teams from each group reach the knockout stage. This stage is single elimination until the semi finals. After the semi finals, the two winners play for the championship. The two losers play for third place.
  • Penalty Cards: If a player gets two yellow cards in a game, they receive a red card. If a player receives a red card they will be suspended from the next game. If a player receives two yellow cards in the group stage, they will be suspended from the next match.
  • Player Eligibility: All players must be eligible according to their football associations.
  • Anti Doping Policy: Athletes must remain drug-free for the entirety of competition.
  • World Cup Qualification Structure: All nations competing must qualify according to the qualifying criteria of their regional FIFA confederation.
  • FIFA Discipline Code: Athletes and coaches must abide by FIFA Discipline Code and major misconduct will be handled by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.
  • Financial Provisions: Each team will be given financial provisions by the FIFA organization for all expenses necessary for participating in the World Cup.

Laws of the Game

Every match throughout the FIFA World Cup is played under the general rules set by the International Football Association Board’s Laws of the Game. The original laws of the game can trace their roots to the 1860s in England, with the Football Association’s original rule set. These laws have been adapted and revised over the decades and continue to change.

The Laws of the Game outline the general rules and format of a professional soccer game. These laws include fundamental rules such as goals, handballs, offsides, and fouls. Additionally, the Laws of the Game dictate the duration of each match.

According to the laws, each match in the FIFA World Cup will have a standard time of two 45-minute halves, with a 15-minute halftime between them. Following a tie after normal playing time, the teams have a five-minute break before starting two 15-minute overtime halves. If a tie remains after the overtime period, the teams enter a penalty shootout.

Anti-Doping Policy

Like the majority of other professional sports competitions, the FIFA World Cup maintains a strict anti-doping policy. This is to ensure that each match is fair and that no player has an unfair advantage due to performance-enhancing drugs.

For the FIFA World Cup, FIFA’s general anti-doping policy is a fundamental rule. Players are prohibited from taking performance enhancing-drugs. Furthermore, all athletes can be drug tested at any point throughout the FIFA World Cup, during rest time or off days, as well as on match days. Random drug testing makes it difficult for anyone taking performance enhancing drugs not to get caught.

Round Progression Structure/Format

The FIFA World Cup follows a tournament structure that creates exciting soccer and equal opportunities for each team. The first stage of the tournament is known as the group stage. The 32 competing teams are broken up into groups of four teams.

The teams within each group then play each other twice. The top two teams from each group progress to the round of 16, also known as the knockout stage.

The knockout stage continues into the tournament’s quarterfinals. If a team wins its match, it moves on to the semifinals, and eventually the final if they are successful.

World Cup Qualifying

To compete in the FIFA World Cup, teams must qualify for the tournament or be the host country. Since only 32 teams are allowed entry, there are global qualifying games that take place in the year prior to the world cup. 

To ensure an equal distribution of teams from each continent, each continent is granted a specific amount of slots for teams in the FIFA World Cup. For example, Europe is given 13 slots for its international teams in the World Cup. 

The top-performing teams from each continent are given slots. At the end, runners-up compete in global head-to-head qualifying rounds to compete for the final few World Cup slots.

Player Eligibility

FIFA has outlined two main regulations to ensure that players are eligible to compete in the World Cup. These include:

  • Players must hold the same nationality as their team’s country
  • National soccer associations from each country are responsible for player eligibility

If a soccer association fails to ensure its players’ eligibility, it is subject to penalties. Any disputes that an association has regarding a player’s eligibility are ultimately decided by the FIFA Disciplinary Committee.

FIFA Discipline Code

To play in the World Cup, players must abide by FIFA’s Discipline Code. World Cup players represent their home nations, as well as the soccer tournament, and are expected to behave well. Players must respect the referees, engage in fair play, behave accordingly, and not take performance-enhancing drugs.

Furthermore, players and teams must comply with FIFA’s Code of Ethics and must maintain an environment free of racism, discrimination, and cheating. Violations of the FIFA Discipline Code are dealt with by FIFA’s Discipline Committee.