Are Men’s and Women’s Football Rules the Same? Uncovering the Truth.

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So, you’ve been thinking… do the rules for men’s and women’s football match up or not? You know what, that’s a super legit question!

You see differences in other sports, so why not wonder about football? Well, guess what? We’ve got the inside scoop for you.

When it comes to the rules of the beautiful game, they’re pretty much the same for both men and women’s football.

That’s right! The adrenaline-pumping offsides, the nail-biting penalty shootouts – they’re all part of the package, whether you’re watching the men’s or women’s World Cup.

There might be slight variations in the way the game is played or the strategies are employed, but the rules followed are pretty much the same in both men’s and women’s football.

So, make yourself comfy, get your cheer on, and enjoy supporting your top teams. When it all comes down to it, both men’s and women’s football are playing by the same rulebook.

Are Men’s and Women’s Football Rules the Same?


When it comes to women’s football, there isn’t any difference at all between men’s and women’s football rules.

So, whether you’re watching or playing, you’ll have no trouble following along.

Although the rules are the same, one aspect where you might see some variation is the physicality of the game.

Men are often more aggressive on the field, so don’t be too shocked if you see more reckless tackles and heavier challenges.

But of course this doesn’t mean that women’s football is any less exciting or intense!

Are Men's and Women's Football Rules the Same comparison infographic

What Are the Basic Football Rules?

Let’s remind ourselves of the rules of football – both for women and men!

Basic Gameplay Mechanics

As you know, there are two teams, each with 11 players, including a goalkeeper.

The point? Score more goals than your opponent, of course! With your feet, head, or any part of the body except your arms and hands, get that football into your opponent’s net.

Both men and women play on the same size pitch, with the same size goals and the same size ball – a standard size five.

Game Duration and Stoppage Time

A typical football game consists of two 45-minute halves, separated by a 15-minute break.

But wait, there’s more! Don’t forget about the stoppage time, which is typically a few extra minutes added to each half to make up for time lost due to injuries, substitutions, or other interruptions.

A great time to squeeze in those last-second goals!

Scoring System

Scoring in football is straightforward: one goal equals one point.

Whichever team has more points at the end of the match wins.

If there’s a tie, the game ends in a draw unless a specific competition like a tournament requires a winner, in which case extra time or a penalty shootout might be used.

Fouls and Penalties

Whoa there, don’t get too rough!

Committing fouls can result in free kicks, penalty kicks, or – if you’re really naughty – yellow or red cards, which could leave your team a player short. Stick to the football rules, and play fair!

Corner Kicks and Throw-Ins

If the ball completely crosses a sideline, a throw-in is awarded to the team that didn’t touch it last.

Launch it back into play with both hands, and keep those feet grounded!

If a defender last touched the ball before it crossed the end line, get ready for a corner kick – an opportunity for your team to score from the corner of the field.

Goalkeeping Rules

Goalkeepers, you’re the last line of defence.

Within your own penalty area, you can use your hands to stop the opposition in their tracks. But remember, you only have six seconds to release the ball after making a save!

Substitution Rules

Oops, feeling tired or injured?

No worries, as your team has three opportunities to make substitutions during a match. Fresh legs, coming up!

Physical Contact Regulations

Football is a physical sport, but it’s important to play within the rules.

Tackling, shoulder charges, and jostling are permitted provided they’re done fairly. Avoid excessive force or intentional fouls that put others in danger, and the ref will be happy!

Offside Rule

Finally, you can’t just camp out near your opponent’s goal; the infamous offside rule makes sure of that!

You’re offside if you’re closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender when your teammate plays the ball to you.

Patience is a virtue, and timing those runs is key!

So there you have it, your crash course in basic football rules. As you can see, there are no difference between men’s and women’s football rules!

Watch and learn: Football Rules For Dummies

Here’s a great video tutorial that walks you through the main football rules you really need to know in an easy and simple way!

Should Football Rules Be the Same for Men and Women?

Fair play is the name of the game, regardless of gender.

FIFA Laws of the Game apply to both versions of the sport – which means the game objectives, field size, and basic regulations are consistent for all players.

But does that mean both games are the same? No!

As a spectator, you might notice differences in style, tactics, and physicality. But, don’t be mistaken, both genders play with tremendous skills and passion.

When it comes to revenue especially, there are some notable gaps.

Men’s football typically generates higher revenue and enjoys better media coverage. Although women’s football has made significant strides, work remains to achieve equal representation and financial compensation.

Equal pay has been a hot topic in recent years. The disparity in earnings is alarming, with women’s football salaries usually lagging behind men’s.

Progress is being made and we’re feeling super hopeful, but there’s still a long road ahead for gender equity in football.

As fans and players, we just wanna keep cheering and supporting football players of all genders!

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the pitch dimensions the same for both genders?

Yes, the pitch dimensions are the same for both men’s and women’s football.

While there may be slight variations in size depending on the specific pitch, the dimensions follow the same guidelines for both genders.

Do men’s and women’s teams use different footballs?

No! The official rules are the same, and FIFA recommends a size 5 ball for both women’s and men’s matches.

Are substitution rules identical for men and women?

You bet! Men’s and women’s football both follow the same substitution rules.

Each team is allowed a maximum of three substitutions during a game.

Is there a difference in the number of players on the pitch?

Nope, both men’s and women’s football have the same number of players on the pitch.

There are 11 players per team, including a goalkeeper for each side.

Do both genders have the same match duration?

Indeedy-do, both men’s and women’s football matches consist of two 45-minute halves, for a total of 90 minutes.

In some cases, such as during a tournament, if the score is tied at the end of regulation time, extra time or a penalty shoot-out is used to determine the winner.

These rules apply to both genders!

Are the offside rules applied equally for men and women?

Absolutely! The offside rules in football are the same for both men’s and women’s games.

A player is considered offside if they are closer to the opponent’s goal line than both the ball and the second-to-last defender (usually the last outfield player) when the ball is played to them.

This rule is applied equally to both genders, ensuring a fair playing experience for all.

The Final Score

To sum up, we’ve determined that when it comes to the official rules of men’s and women’s football, there are completely no differences between the two.

Sure, techniques or strategies may vary, based on different capabilities of each gender, but deep down it is essentially the same game.

So next time you’re watching a match with friends or family – men’s or women’s – make sure to enjoy your time together!

Whether your team wins or loses, have fun and remember that these great athletes are all playing by the same rules.

And while some rule variation might occur in other sports out there, at least now we know for sure that when it comes to football, they are the same for everyone.

This article was written by

  • Anna Adams, Creative Director & Content Lead

    Hi there! I'm Anna Adams, your go-to source for all things women's football. I've been crazy about football for over 20 years, ever since I was kicking a ball around with my brothers as a kid. I've turned my passion into a career where I get to share all the cool stuff about football with you. As a content lead, I've had the awesome opportunity to work with various sports brands and publications. Whether it's the latest gear, pro tips, or just some cool football trivia, I'm all about making f...