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Pitch Markings

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


The markings on a modern football pitch are one of the most familiar images of the modern era, as instantly recognisable as the twin arches of McDonald's or the curve of a Coke bottle.
The markings evolved in Britain between 1863 and 1902.
1863 Pitch Markings
When the English Football Association formed, pitch markings were not specified. Instead, flags marked the corners. The pitch could measure up to 200 yards long (180 metres) and up to 100 yards wide (90 metres). The goalposts were set 8 yards apart (7.32 metres), a measurement which has remained the same ever since.
1891 Pitch Markings
The revised rules required goal lines and touch lines to be marked, plus a centre circle, the goalkeepers' areas, and a 12 yard line from the goal. A penalty kick could be taken from anywhere along that 12 yard line. An optional 18 yard line across the full width of the pitch was also introduced, to denote the penalty area. The penalty kick was an idea suggested by the Irish Football Association in 1890. Little did the Irish know then what agonies and ecstasies they were to unleash upon the sporting public!
1902 Pitch Markings
The modern pitch markings finally came into being in 1902, with an added halfway line, goal areas, penalty areas and a penalty spot as we know it today. There would be only one further change. The penalty arc was added in 1937 after suggestions from various European Football Associations. It is, therefore, the only part of the football pitch markings not 'Made in Britain.'



August 2001

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