Juan:'Hi Buck, how are you enjoying your time in Spain? A bit different to the States, isn't it?'
Buck:'It's good. You're right, it is different to the US. Actually, last night I saw a soccer match on the TV. Don't you call it football here? To be honest, I didn't really understand what was happening.'
Juan:'Yes, it's called football. It's really a very simple sport. The team that scores more goals wins. I'll explain some of the rules to you. There are 11 players on each team. The first player is the goalkeeper, he has to stop the other team from scoring a goal, he's the only player who can touch the ball with his hands. Then in front of him, there are 4 defenders, they have to prevent the other team from scoring but can't use their hands. In front of them are the 4 midfielders, their role is to both try to score and prevent the other team from scoring. Then in front of them, you have two players whose main purpose is to score, they're called strikers. Then lastly you have the coach, he's not actually a player, he's the person who trains and instructs how the players should play.'
Buck:'I also saw three other people on the grass pitch. They were wearing black. Who are they?'
Juan:'Well, the one on the pitch running with the players is the referee. And the other two running along the sides of the pitch are called linesmen. All three are there to make sure that the match is played correctly. If they see for example, a player trying to hurt or injure another player, or somebody touching the ball with their hand illegally, they stop the game and give a foul, to punish the player that did it. That means that the other team are rewarded with a free kick. If it's a serious foul, the referee will give the player who did it a yellow or a red card. If it's a red card then the player is sent off, that means he can't play any more in that match.'
Buck: 'You said that the only player who can touch the ball with their hands is the goalkeeper. But I saw other players throw the ball with their hands last night, and the referee didn't give a foul. Why?'
Juan:'If the ball goes over the lines at the sides of the pitch, then the match stops. To start it again, a player has to do a throw-in, he throws the ball over his head. Any player on the pitch can do a throw-in. But if the ball goes off the pitch at the ends, where the two goals are, the referee doesn't give a throw-in. He'll give either a corner or if the attacking team were last to touch the ball before it went off, he'll give a goal kick. Where the goalkeeper restarts the match by kicking the ball from their area. Does that make sense?'
Buck:'It kind of makes sense. Another thing I saw last night, the referee gave a free kick to the defending team when a striker from the other team was very close to shooting at their goal. I didn't see a foul.'
Juan:'The referee could have made a mistake. But it's possible that the striker was offside. In football, you can't pass a ball to a player on your team if there is no opposition player between him and the opposition goalkeeper. The off-side rule is a little confusing.'
Buck:'I thought you said that football was simple!'