Die Spielregeln, Regelgeschichte

Law 2: The Ball

This article has been updated to comply with the Laws of the Game 2023/24. It lists all the rule changes in the Laws of the Game and other association football codices before 1886 I know of. More on trials or withdrawn and defeated football rule proposals discussed at the Annual General Meeting of The IFAB on request (Contact).

In this article the development of the ball is described.


Year (Source) new or changed laws (proposing club/association, if known)
1883 (IFAB) The circumference had to be 27-28 ins before the beginning of the game.
1880s (IFAB) The home club provides the ball. The ball must be returned to the club after the match.
1889 (IFAB) The weight must be 13-15 oz at the beginning of the game.
1905 (IFAB) The ball must not have anything on it that can injure a player (FA).
1937 (IFAB) Weight increase to 14-16 ounces.
1938 (IFAB) Supplement that the weight refers to the start of the game. Supplement that the shape of the ball is spherical. If the ball becomes defective, it’s replaced. The game continues with a dropped ball at the point where the ball becomes deflective.
1954 (IFAB) Addition that the ball may only be exchanged after the referee’s approval (FAW).
1965 (IFAB) Supplement that other, not further named materials are allowed if they are approved (IFAB).
1967 (IFAB) The pressure of the ball must correspond to the air pressure at sea-level (= 15 lb./sq. or 1 kg/cm^2) (IFAB).
1972 (IFAB) Supplement the specification of the atmospheric pressure in atmosphere and at sea level (FIFA).
1975 (IFAB) Decrease of the pressure: The pressure of the ball must be 9.0 – 10.5 lb./sq. on the sea-level = 0.6-0,7 atmosphere(FIFA).
1983 (IFAB) The maximum value of the range of allowed pressure is increased: The pressure of the ball must correspond to 0.6-1.1atmosphere at sea-level (FIFA).
1985 (IFAB) It is added that – when play was stopped and the ball was in the goal area – it is dropped on that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal-line, at the point nearest to where the ball was when play (IFA).
1996 (IFAB) Circumference: The Anglo-American measurements are replaced by the measurements in the metric system: 68,0-70,0 cm (FIFA).

Weight: Change the weight of ounces in grams: 397-450 g (FIFA).

Material: The used material – apart from leather – must no longer be approved, but suitable (FIFA).

1997 (IFAB) Circumference: The Anglo-American measures are supplemented, the metric measures remain.

Exchange of the ball: This passage war inserted again: If a ball become detective, the match is stopped, restarted by a dropped ball from the place the ball becomes deflective.

Commercial ads on the ball: No kind of commercial advertising on the ball is allowed in matches of FIFA, confederations and national associations. Infringements are penalised by the host of the competition.

2008 (IFAB) Exchange of the ball: Supplement (as already 1985-1996): If the ball becomes defective when it is in the goal area, the match is restarted by a dropped ball of that part of the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal-line, at the point nearest to where the ball was when play was stopped.

Commercial ads on the ball: Prohibition only applies to official competitions.

2011 (IFAB) Supplement that if the ball become defective during the performing of a penalty kick (ball is in play), the penalty kick is retaken if the ball has not already touched a player, goal-post or crossbar (FIFA)..
2016 (IFAB Exchange of the ball: Even if the ball becomes kick defective at a goal, it will be repeated. Additional balls can be stored around the field and used under the referee’s control.

Commercial ads on the ball: Emphasis on the prohibition of advertising on the field of game, except for the logo/emblem of the competition, the competition organiser and the authorised manufacturer’s trademark. The competition regulations may restrict the size and number of such markings.

2021 (IFAB) The footballs used must meet the requirements and bear one of the marks of the FIFA Quality Programme for Footballs.