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What the markings of football (soccer) pitch mean

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Euros 2020 is underway and bringing a form of unity and celebration like never before given the current covid-19 climate.

To get really involved in the beautiful game, understand what the commentators, referees and pundits are talking about, a great starting point is knowing some of the basics – what those markings are, on a football pitch.

11-a-side football pitch with its FIFA standard markings

There are different sizes of pitches, for example, 5-a-side, 7-a-side or 9-a-side, but the standard used in international games like Euros 2020, is 11-a side.

The pitches and how the game work are all set out in the “Laws of the Game” drawn up by FIFA, however the markings mean the same when drawn.

The Centre Circle

This large circle in the middle of the pitch is reserved for match kick-offs.

During a start or restart of a game, a ball is placed on the dot in the centre of circle and a couple of players from the team taking the kick-off surround the ball, while their other team-mates position themselves anywhere on the field.

The opposing team must position themselves at least 10 yards away from the ball hence the circle gives an indication of that distance.

The Halfway Line

This line goes across the middle of the field, and simply indicates each teams side of the pitch.

Penalty Area

This is where penalties are kicked, with the dot indicating where to place the ball before taking any penalty. The area is also known as the only other place beyond the 6-yard box where a goalkeeper can use their hands to catch the ball.  


The 4 corners of the field with small arcs drawn are where an attacking team replays the ball into the game if the ball had gone out of play through the goal-line because it was hit by the defending team.

6-yard box

This box, also known as the “goal area” is where the goalkeeper often kicks the ball from. However it is not compulsory because if an attacking team kicks the ball over the goal-line, then any player from the defending team can restart the game by kicking the ball from this area, but often the case – its the goalkeeper who takes it.


The goal has two posts, a crossbar and a net – and as well known – once the ball enters this area, it is considered to be goal “scored”. However, for it to be officially recognised as scored, the ball would need to have crossed the line between the goal posts.

Penalty Arc

During a penalty kick, players need to stay at least 10 yards away from the penalty spot where the ball is placed, so the arc acts as a distance guide, ensuring players do not enter the penalty box and the arc itself but can place themselves next to it.


Commonly known as the side-lines, if a ball crosses this line, the team whose it was not their fault that it went out restarts the game around the spot where the ball went out of play by throwing it back into the pitch.

Goal Lines

The goal lines are used as guidelines to determine when the ball is out of game play. If an attacking team hits the ball and it goes beyond the goal line, then the defending team – usually goal keeper – restart the game by kicking the ball from the goal area. If it is defending team’s fault, then the attacking team gets awarded a corner.

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