The Laws of the Game specify 17 soccer rules and regulations that are maintained annually by the International Football Association Board. The eight-member panel includes four representatives from the Fédération Internationale de Football Associations and one representative each from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, four countries instrumental in the development of the game.
The Laws of the Game are the recognized standard for all professional and international soccer matches. The referee is responsible for the interpretation and enforcement of the rules during matches and may be aided by assistant referees in signaling with flags when balls are out of play, and ruling on player fouls and player offside violations.
The first six laws contain the specific rules and regulations related to the field of play, the ball used, the numbers of players on each team, player equipment, the referee and the assistant referees. The next six laws pertain to the duration of the match, the start and restart of play, determining when balls are in and out of play, the method of scoring, "offside" rules and guidelines regarding fouls and player misconduct. The final five laws outline the specifics regarding free kicks, penalty kicks, throw-ins, goal kicks and corner kicks.