FREE KICKS – LAW 13
Re-starts of play in soccer, after stoppages due to fouls and misconduct (or administrative violations), are described in Law 13, “Free Kicks,” of the Laws of the Game. There are two types of free kicks, “Indirect” and “Direct.” “Direct and indirect free kicks are awarded to the opposing team of a player, substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official, guilty of an offense.”
Indirect Free Kicks
Indirect free kicks are re-starts of play given to the opponent of the team that has committed any one of a number of “lesser” (“non-penal”) infractions as contained both in Law 12 and in other Laws of the Game. This type of re-start is called “indirect” because it requires that the ball be touched by another player, after the kicker, before it can go into the goal and be counted as a score, i.e., the ball cannot go directly into the goal from an indirect kick and count. When the referee determines that an infraction has occurred, play is halted. The ball is then usually placed at the spot of the infraction and it must be completely still before it is kicked.
Direct Free Kicks
Direct free kicks are re-starts of play given to the opponent of the team that has committed any one of a number of “major” or “penal” fouls identified in Law 12 of the Laws of the Game. (There are also direct-free-kick awards contained in Law 3.) This type of re-start is called “direct” because the ball does not have to be touched by another player, after the kicker, before it can go into the goal and be counted as a score, i.e., the ball can go directly into the goal from the kick and count. When the referee determines that an infraction has occurred, play is halted. The ball is then usually placed at the spot of the infraction and it must be completely still before it is kicked. A direct-free-kick foul that has been committed by the defenders within their own Penalty Area becomes a “Penalty Kick.” The ball is then placed at the Penalty Mark. (See Law 14, “The Penalty Kick,” of the Laws of the Game.)
All free kicks are taken from the place where the offense occurred, except:
- indirect free kicks to the attacking team for an offense inside the opponents’ goal area are taken from the nearest point on the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line
- free kicks to the defending team in their goal area may be taken from anywhere in that area
- free kicks for offenses involving a player entering, re-entering or leaving the field of play without permission are taken from the position of the ball when play was stopped. However, if a player commits an offense off the field of play, play is restarted with a free kick taken on the boundary line nearest to where the offense occurred; for direct free kick offenses, a penalty kick is awarded if this is within the offender’s penalty area
- the Law designates another position (see Law 3, Law 11, and Law 12)
- must be stationary and the kicker must not touch the ball again until it has been touched another player
- is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves
Until the ball is in play all opponents must remain:
- at least 10 yards from the ball, unless they are on their own goal line between the goalposts
- outside the penalty area for free kicks which are being taken from inside the opponents’ penalty area
Where three or more defending team players form a “wall,” all attacking team players must remain at least 1 yard from the “wall” until the ball is in play.
Ball enters the goal:
- if a direct free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal is awarded
- if an indirect free kick is kicked directly into the opponents’ goal, a goal kick is awarded
- if a direct or indirect free kick is kicked directly into the team’s own goal, a corner kick is awarded
- The referee is to indicate an indirect free kick by raising the arm above the head; this signal is maintained until the kick has been taken and the ball touches another player, goes out of play, or it is clear that a goal cannot be scored directly. An indirect free kick must be retaken if the referee fails to signal that the kick is indirect and the ball is kicked directly into the goal.
- By not raising the arm above the head, the referee is indicating that the kick is a direct free kick.
A free kick can be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously.
Feinting to take a free kick to confuse opponents is permitted.
If a player, while correctly taking a free kick, intentionally kicks the ball at an opponent in order to play the ball again but it is not done in a careless or reckless manner or using excessive force, the referee allows play to continue.
If, when a free kick is taken, an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance, the kick is retaken, unless the advantage can be applied; but if a player takes a free kick quickly and an opponent who is less than 10 yards from the ball intercepts it, the referee allows play to continue. However, an opponent who deliberately prevents a free kick from being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying the restart of play.
If, when a free kick is taken, an attacking team player is less than 1 yard from a “wall” formed by three or more defending team players, an indirect free kick is awarded.
If, when a free kick is taken by the defending team inside its penalty area, any opponents are inside the penalty area because they did not have time to leave, the referee allows play to continue. If an opponent who is in the penalty area when the free kick is taken, or enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, touches or challenges for the ball before it is in play, the free kick is retaken.
If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded; if the kicker commits a handball offense:
- a direct free kick is awarded
- a penalty kick is awarded if the offense occurred inside the kicker’s penalty area unless the kicker was the goalkeeper in which case an indirect free kick is awarded
Soccer Coaching Tips:
– See “Direct or Indirect?” for a compilation of re-starts.
– At higher levels, coaches need to address both taking and defending “quick” free kicks. These are instances where the attacking team takes the kick as soon as the ball is properly placed and not moving and the referee is prepared for the re-start. In this case, the attacking team does not ask the referee, either verbally or visually, to enforce the minimum distance requirement on the part of defenders and immediately takes the kick.
– At higher levels, coaches need to address both taking and defending “ceremonial” free kicks, where “set plays/set pieces” are usually involved and “walls” may be built. In this case, the attacking team usually asks the referee, either verbally or visually, to establish the minimum distance requirement on the part of defenders and then must wait for the referee to re-position himself and to provide a signal to proceed, before taking the kick.
– A defensive “wall” may be built with players standing on the goal line between the goalposts if the spot of the ball for an indirect free kick is less than 10-yards away from the goal.
– The referee is not obligated in any way to provide time for the defenders to build a “wall.”
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 CoachingAmericanSoccer.com® 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 TheIFAB.com.
© Copyright, John C. Harves