1863 – Today: Evolution of the Laws of Football


The phenomenon of the ages, nowadays known as football, hadn’t always been the well-oiled machine it is nowadays. Just a few centuries ago, players were supposed to count on each other’s honors when it came to ruling out fouls or determining the gravity of their injuries.

Luckily for this sport’s global fanbase, things were ultimately made official, through laws and regulations that would serve as the foundation for the modern football game as we know it. A glance at each revised decade on our timeline is enough to realize just how much history is contained in a single football, from the first offside law to your modern NetBet sportsbook account.


1863 – The First Laws

The first laws of the game of football were established back in 1863, at the Freemasons’ Tavern in Blackheath, England. Even though few have remained the same, it is a crucial moment for the game we know and love today.

1878 – The Referee Whistle

This is the year when the referees were authorized to use whistles when performing their duties.

1886 – IFAB

The International Football Association Board was first established on June 2, 1886. It comprised of two representatives from each British country – England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland and required a two-thirds majority to create a rule.

1891 – The Referee Itself

Up until 1891, the game was regulated by two umpires who referred to the referee solely when at a disagreement. After this change, the referee was given authority and the two umpires were turned to assistants.

1904 – FIFA

The international governing body of football was first set up in Europe, back in 1904, with the following countries as founding members: France, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland and Spain.

1913 – FIFA & IFAB Merge

Once FIFA and IFAB joined forces to regulate the game of football, there was a need for restructuring in the voting system. Hence, each country of the IFAB retained their single vote, while FIFA was given four on the whole. In order to pass or reject a proposal, they still needed a two-third majority, i.e. six votes.

1925 – The Offside Rule

There is never enough discussion about the offside rule, and the moments when it’s broken. 1925 is an important year for this rule, mainly because it determined that attacking players are onside as long as there are two defensive players                between them and the goal, including the goalie. Up until then, the rule required three players in between.

1938 – Modern English

In order to make the rules understandable to the wide audience, they needed to be rewritten in modern terms. This task fell on the secretary of the English FA, Stanley Rous, who was later acknowledged for his valuable work and made FIFA president in 1961.

1990 – The Final Offside

Once rules were well-defined and understandable, it was evident that the lack of scoring attempts was due to offside regulative. The final change stated that the offensive player remains onside as long as they are even with the second-to-last defender (the goalie understandably being the last defender).