How many players are there in Football? Position and role of players

Football players - Position and Role

In football, also called Football Association (FA) or soccer, a match is played between two teams. Each team has a total of eleven players. Among the eleven players, there is one goalkeeper. The remaining ten players have dedicated positions on the field, which determines each player’s role. This article will highlight the number of players in football, their positions, and their roles during the game.

How many players in Football?

There are 11 players on each football team. So, the total number of players on a football field is 22, including two goalkeepers.

According to Football Association rules, a match cannot start if a team has less than seven players. Even if players leave the field during a game, the game will continue with the opponent team in an advantageous position. However, if the ball has gone out of play, the game ends. The match referee regulates all this.

According to football rules, the substitute players in the starting lineup fill up the empty spots in the team when it has less than eleven players.

There are three different sections into which a football team is divided:

  1. Defense
  2. Midfield
  3. Offense

Let’s look into the no. of players, their position, and roles in each section.

Defence

In defence, there are two football positions:

  • Goalkeeper
  • Defenders or Backs.

Goalkeeper

A Goalkeeper is crucial in any football team. Without them, no team can start a match. The goalkeeper (GK), also referred to as the goalie or the keeper, is a football team’s last line of defence. Each team must have one goalkeeper. In total, a football game has two goalkeepers (One from each team).

The goalkeeper’s primary aim is to prevent the other team from scoring a goal. But, the keeper can only use their arms or shoulder inside their penalty box. The exciting thing is that the goalkeeper is the only player out of the eleven who can use their arms or shoulders to block the ball from going in the net.

Outside the penalty box, a keeper functions like a regular player. However, the keeper cannot grab the ball with their hands when receiving a teammate’s direct pass.

A goalkeeper wears gloves and different color jerseys to be easily recognized, owing to their unique role in the team.

The Defenders or Backs

These players form the football team’s first and middle lines of defense. They are closest to the penalty box and stop the opposition players from advancing into their penalty box to score a goal. Unlike the goalkeeper, they contain and block the shots and passes from opponent players, using their legs or parts of their body other than their hands or shoulders.

In general, football teams mostly play 3-4 players as defenders in a match. But, four at the back is the most common tactic in modern football. The Defenders are further divided into four categories:

  1. Center Back (CB): The center back or the central defender forms the middle section of the rear defence of a team. In a 4-4-2 formation, there are two center-backs. This position is also the center fullback or the stopper.
  2. Full Back (LB/RB): The full-back or the right back forms the right and left side of the defence. These players stop the opponent team from entering the penalty box and assist the midfield players by acting as wingers. Crucial in counterattacks, these players constantly move up and down the football field.
  3. Wingback (LWB/RWB): The wingbacks are players who require more stamina and physical endurance than other defenders. They function as defenders and offensive players, helping the ball move towards their opponent’s goal.
  4. Sweeper (SW): The sweepers are defenders who place themselves between the goalie and the center-backs. Their only aim is to clear any ball that is a threat.

Midfield

As the name suggests, Midfield or Halfback is a soccer team’s two most crucial sections. That is because they act as a link between the Defense and the Offense. The performance of midfielders is essential for the proper functioning of the entire team. As expected, the midfield section sees the most action in a game.

Typically, there are four midfielders in a 4-4-2 formation. Here are the positions of the players:

  1. Defensive Midfielder (DM): The defensive midfielder, also known as the holding midfielder, plays directly in front of the defenders. They are responsible for keeping the ball from entering their box and managing rebounds. This position is vital as it ensures that the ball is kept in the center field and prevents the opponent from creating goal-scoring opportunities.
  2. Central Midfielder (CM): Central Midfielders are the most critical midfielders in the midfield section. This position is vital, as according to the situation, they can switch their gameplay from defence to offence. Central midfielders are expected to have excellent ball handling and passing skills. They also distribute the ball from midfield to offence.
  3. Attacking Midfielder (AM): Positioned between the central midfielders and the forwards, they create goal-scoring opportunities for the team. In addition, an attacking midfielder is further known for their dribbling skills and assists.
  4. Left/Right Midfielder (LM/RM): The left/right midfielders stay wide of the pitch and try to create goal-scoring moments for the offence by taking the ball into the opponent’s box from the outside. Also known as Wingers or Outside Midfielders, they must hustle a lot and have higher stamina. In addition, they should have excellent 1:1 skills as they often deal with the opponent’s wingbacks.

Offence

Players who play in the offence are commonly known as Forwards or Strikers. These players play nearest to the opponent’s goal. Forwards are quick and have excellent shot-taking capabilities. The forward’s main aim is to convert the goal-scoring opportunities into goals. In a 4-4-2 formation, there are two forwards.

The offence has the following positions:

  1. Center Forward (CF): The only objective of a center-forward is to score goals and assist the striker in achieving one. Moreover, they should be able to score goals from every angle possible. This player has breathtaking dribbling, passing, and pass-receiving abilities.
  2. Striker (S): The striker is nearest to the opponent’s goal. They convert goal-scoring opportunities by receiving passes from the center forward, attacking midfielders, or wingers. Strikers should be quick and find innovative ways to score goals.
  3. Second Striker (SS): Like the sweeper in defense, the second striker is often overlooked. They play behind the center-forward and keep the ball in the opponent’s box, rarely allowing the opponent to counterattack. This set of players takes the odd long shot at the goal when the striker has been denied one by the opponent’s defense.

How many substitute players in football?

Per the rules of FIFA, the number of substitute players in a team can be up to five per match. The Premier League recently announced that five substitutions are allowed per team in a game.

Football Substitute Players

Rules to substitute players

Substitutions can happen before the play starts, during the game, during the half-time break, or during extra time. There are specific rules or procedures to carry out a substitution. These include:

  • The team management must inform the match referee about the substitution.
  • The substituted player should be kept informed.
  • After receiving permission from the referee, the substituted player should leave the field from the nearest exit point on the boundary line.
  • The substituted player goes straight to the technical or dressing room or sits in the area for substituted players.
  • The substituted player cannot take any further part in the game.
  • The substitution enters the field only after the substituted leaves the pitch.
  • The substitution is not carried out until the substituted player does not accept the change.
  • Substitution takes place when there is a stoppage in play.
  • The substitution enters the pitch after the referee signals it.
  • The substitution enters only at the halfway line.

What is the procedure to substitute?

The substitute’s name must be given to the referee before the game starts. Here is the procedure for replacing a player with a substitute player:

  • The referee is informed.
  • The player being replaced obtains the referee’s permission to leave the game.
  • They should leave by the nearest boundary line point unless the referee permits them to go directly.
  • The returnee player must go to the dressing room or technical area.
  • They must take no further part in the match unless they return.
  • If the player refuses to quit, the game continues.

The substitute enters the competition at the following points:

  • During a stoppage in the play.
  • At the halfway line.
  • If the player quits.
  • After they receive a signal from the referee.

Football players – Team Captain & Referee

How many captains are there in football?

There are two captains in a football game (one for each team). The captain of a football team has many roles to perform, such as:

  • Boost the morale of the entire team.
  • Control the dressing room atmosphere.
  • Clear doubts in the minds of the player and the technical staff.
  • Lead the team effectively.
  • Ensure smooth communication.
  • Encourage and pay attention to your teammates.
  • Create strong relationships between the staff and the players.
  • Stay calm and do not pressure the players too much.
  • Motivate the teammates when the team is underperforming.
  • Focus on getting the team in a rhythm.
  • Keep a cool head even in moments of stress.
  • Treat the referee and match officials respectfully.
  • Defend the teammates.
  • Maintain a fair play attitude and respect the opponents.

How many referees are there in football?

Five officials are there in every professional soccer match. There is one main referee, accompanied by two linesmen in a match, a fourth official, and a Video Assistant Referee (VAR). If they get injured, the game will continue under the supervision of the remaining match officials until the ball is out of play.

The referee is an official who conducts a football match. They take vital decisions not limited to but including the following:

  • Starting and stopping a game.
  • Deciding whether a goal is valid or not.
  • Determining if a player is playing the game while respecting the regulations and fair play spirit.

Any misbehavior against the referee and other match officials by any person is punishable and liable to suspension or financial fines. The jersey worn by a referee in a football match is different from the rest, making them distinguishable.

The referee has specific compulsory and optional equipment. These include a whistle, a watch, red and yellow cards, a notebook (as a means of keeping records), and an EPTS (Fitness Monitoring Equipment). In addition, as optional equipment, they can carry a buzzer/bleep signal or headset to communicate.

Fitness is a pre-requisite of a referee’s role as they have to match pace with the players and follow them through the field to maintain the dignity and rules.

The Professional Game Match Official’s Board chooses the referee for a game. Factors like the referee’s overall experience, conduct, current forms, etc., are considered before selecting them.

Can the role of the player change on the Football Field?

The role of a player often changes for the sake of the team. When a strategy is implemented, changes often occur in the team’s formation.

Football position example

To achieve the best results, certain players change their position and gameplay to make the new strategy more effective. These instances occur most in the midfield area. Midfielders swap roles, and new players are substituted to fill the vacant positions.

  • In forward, the center-forward generally takes up the part of the attacking midfielder. Or a new player is substituted.
  • In defence, these changes occur mainly in the center-back and full-back positions.
  • Goalkeepers are replaced by other goalkeepers when they are injured or see a red card.
  • In the case of the remaining ten players, when a player sees a red card, that player is not substituted.

Soccer is a simple game that thrives on the instincts of running, overcoming obstacles, and reaching a goal. As experts say, one can start playing soccer anywhere with a ball. All they need is the kick or zest to move ahead and put up a fight. Probably that is why football is a beautiful game. Given the game’s current popularity, it is here to stay and unite people across the globe.

How many players in Football – FAQs

How many players play in a football match?

In a football match, every team has eleven players. Going by this calculation, twenty-two players play a football match simultaneously.

How many substitutions can a team make in a game?

According to the rules of FIFA, a maximum of five substitutions (per team) is allowed in a football match.

What happens when a substitute scores a goal?

When a substitute scores a goal, the goal is valid and added to the team’s score. The word ‘sub’ in brackets appears beside the player’s name on the scoreboard.

What is Offside? What happens when a goal is offside?

A player is considered offside if they receive the ball while positioned beyond the second last opponent. When a goal is offside, it is not considered valid and is discarded. The opponent team is awarded a free kick against the offside.

Who is the King of Football?

Due to the performance of Karim Benzema during the 2021-22 European season, he can be recognized as the King of Football in 2022. Take a look at this article where we discuss how a player is regarded as a King of Football.

Who is the god of Football?

Pele is the god of football. Why? Read this article where we explain why Pele is regarded as the god of football.