Direct or Indirect?



In soccer, there are many other re-starts to the game that can be classified as “Direct” or “Indirect” in addition to free kicks awarded for fouls or misconduct.

Indirect re-starts of play require that the ball be touched by another player, after the initial player, before the ball can go into the goal and be counted as a score, i.e., the ball must go indirectly into the goal by way of contact with at least any second player to count.

Direct re-starts of play can go directly into the goal from the initial kicker and be counted as a score, i.e., the ball does not have to be touched by another player, after the kicker, to count.

Indirect Soccer Re-Starts Include

  • Throw-in.
  • Dropped ball.
  • Offside.
  • Ball touched a second time by the same player from a re-start, without having been touched another player.
  • Ball kicked backward on a penalty kick.
  • Penalty kick encroachment into the penalty area by an attacker before the ball is kicked and the ball does not go into the goal.
  • Improper substitutions.
  • Entering the field of play without the referee’s permission.

Fouls and Misconduct –

  • Plays in a dangerous manner.
  • Impedes the progress of an opponent without any contact being made.
  • Is guilty of dissent, using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures or other verbal offenses.
  • Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands or kicks or attempts to kick the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it.
  • Commits any other offense, not mentioned in the Laws, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player.
  • Goalkeeper controls the ball with the hands for more than six seconds before releasing it.
  • Goalkeeper touches the ball with the hands after:
    •  Releasing the ball and before it has been touched another player.
    •  The ball has been deliberately kicked to the goalkeeper by a teammate.
    •  Receiving the ball directly from a throw-in taken by a teammate.
  • Player guilty of an offense not called due to application of “advantage” plays the ball or challenges/interferes with an opponent.
  • Defender fails to respect required distance on a throw-in, free kick, or corner kick and contact with ball is made (except for “quick free kicks” where the attacking team assumes the risk).
  • On a penalty kick, if the goalkeeper and the kicker commit an offense at the same time and the kick is scored, the goal is disallowed, the kicker is cautioned and the restart is given to the defending team.

If an offense is committed outside the field of play against a player, substitute, substituted player or team official of their own team, play is restarted
with an indirect free kick on the boundary line closest to where the offense occurred.  

Direct Soccer Re-Starts Include

  • Kick-off (only into the opponents’ goal).
  • Goal kick (only into the opponents’ goal).
  • Corner kick (only into the opponents’ goal).
  • Penalty kick.
  • Entering the field without the referee’s permission and interferes with play.
  • Offense off the field of play against a person.
  • Throwing an object at a person (or that interferes with play) from off the field of play.
  • Scoring a goal with an extra person on the field.
  • Intentionally kicking or throwing the ball at an opponent in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force.

Fouls and Misconduct –

  • Charges (improperly).
  • Jumps at.
  • Kicks or attempts to kick.
  • Pushes.
  • Strikes or attempts to strike (including head-butt).
  • Tackles or challenges (improperly).
  • Trips or attempts to trip.
  • Commits a handball offense (except for the goalkeeper within their penalty area).
  • Holds an opponent.
  • Impedes an opponent with contact.
  • Bites or spits at someone.

If a player makes contact with the ball with an object (boot, shinguard etc.) held in the hand play is restarted with a direct free kick (or penalty kick).

Soccer Coaching Tips:

–       References to indirect and direct restarts are contained throughout the Laws of the Game.

NOTICE:  This article is based on the soccer Laws of the Game as maintained by The International Football Association Board (IFAB).  As represented in the article, the Laws may be paraphrased, edited for “American English” readability, or quoted in whole or in part.  Supplemental wording presented by® should be provided in brackets.  Every effort has been made to be faithful to the letter, spirit, and intent of the Laws however, since the Laws are subject to modification annually by the IFAB, recent changes may not be currently reflected.  Although national associations are permitted to institute local rules changes to the Laws, particularly for “youth, veterans, disability and grassroots football,” the IFAB is the original source for the official English-language version of the Laws of the Game.  If there is any question, the Laws of the Game may be found at

© Copyright, John C. Harves