Quick soccer guide for bandwagon World Cup fans - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Quick soccer guide for bandwagon World Cup fans

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Every four years the world erupts with soccer mania. (Source: MGN) Every four years the world erupts with soccer mania. (Source: MGN)
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(RNN) - For one month every four years it seems everyone on earth becomes a soccer fan as the FIFA World Cup takes place. Although Team USA lost to Belgium in the knock out round, soccer fever is still high.

The international tournament pits countries against one another to bring out both avid sports fans and national pride.

Spectators enjoy the fanfare and the drama, but some who have jumped on the World Cup bandwagon as the U.S. advanced to the round of 16 may not understand everything happening on the field.

Here's a short guide of frequently asked questions so tournament viewers can keep up.

How long does each game last?

The clock runs continuously in soccer. Each game lasts for two, 45-minute periods with a 15-minute half-time, but almost all games have extra minutes added at the end of the clock thanks to lost time. Allowance for time lost includes anything that makes game play pause, like injuries or water breaks. Extra time is at the discretion of the referee.

What is an offside?

Being offside in soccer means there's no defender between the goalie and an opponent. Any goals made when an opponent is offside don't count. The runners along the sidelines carrying checkered red and orange flags mark the offside line. This rule prevents cherry picking and teams rushing to crowd the opposing nets.

Why do goalies wear different colors?

Goalies can wear any color they want as long as it is different than both their and the opposing team's colors. Goalies are the only player allowed to use their hands.

What counts as out of bounds?

Players can go out of bounds to keep a ball inbounds, but as soon as the ball completely crosses the white line, the team which didn't knock it out gets control of putting it back into play.

Why are referees so powerful?

Referees are almost a third team by themselves in soccer games. Their word is word of law. They run the field with the players, and make their calls as they see them on the field. There is no video playback or time out to spend reviewing calls, and whatever they say goes. Decisions can only be changed before game play resumes.

What is a red card?

Red cards are an automatic ejection of a player. Offenses that warrant a red card are serious fouls, violent conduct, spitting at people, deliberate handballs or using offensive language or gestures. Any player receiving red card is also banned for one additional game. Their team plays the rest of the game with one less player.

What is a yellow card?

Yellow cards mean a player has been cautioned by the referee for unsporting behavior, which can include breaking the rules, delaying play restarts or arguing with the referee. Two yellow cards against one player equals red card.

What are free kicks?

Free kicks are awarded for fouls and other penalties outside the penalty box. Direct free kicks are awarded for penalty fouls and can count for goals if they make it in the net. Indirect free kicks are awarded for non-penalty fouls or other technicalities, and the ball must touch another player before a goal counts.

What are penalty kicks?

Penalty kicks are awarded when a foul warranting a free kick happens inside penalty boxes, which are the big rectangles around the goal. Kickers must kick the ball forward from the penalty line, goalies have to stay on the goal line and the referee helps arrange the players.

How are ties broken?

Once teams hit the round of 16, they are no longer allowed to have a tie game. Games that go past 90 minutes have two additional 15-minute periods. If the game is still tied, it advances to a shootout. Each team has five kicks, and it's a showdown between only one opposing kicker and the goalie. Whichever team gets the most balls in the net wins.

You can check out the World Cup bracket here to keep up with your favorite teams.

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