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Free kick (association football)

  (Redirected from Indirect free kick)

Direct and indirect free kicksEdit

Free kicks may be either direct or indirect, distinguished as follows:

  • An attacking goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick, but not from an indirect free kick.
  • Direct free kicks are awarded for more serious offences (handball and most examples of foul play), while indirect free kicks are awarded for less serious offences
  • A direct free kick cannot be awarded in the opposing team's penalty area: if a team in its own penalty area commits an offence normally punished by a direct free kick, a penalty kick is awarded instead. An indirect free kick may be awarded for an offence committed anywhere.
  • The referee signals an indirect free kick by raising the arm vertically above the head; this signal must be 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. If the referee fails to signal that the free kick is indirect, and the ball goes directly into the opponents' goal, the kick must be retaken. The referee signals a direct free kick by extending the arm horizontally.


Often several players (red) will line up for a free kick, so as to mask their intentions to the defending team (blue).

The free kick is taken from the place where the infringement occurred, with the following exceptions:

  • if the offence was within the kicking team's own goal area, the free kick may be taken from anywhere within the goal area.
  • if an indirect free kick is awarded for an offence within the offending team's own goal area, the kick is taken from the nearest point on the goal area line which runs parallel to the goal line.
  • if the offence took place outside the field of play, the free kick is taken from the boundary line nearest to where the offence occurred.
  • for certain technical offences (a substitute starts a match without the referee being informed; a player or team official enters the playing area without the referee's permission but without interfering with the game) play is started with an indirect free kick from the place where the ball was when play stopped.

The ball must be stationary and on the ground. Opponents must be at least 10 yards (9.1 metres) from the ball until it is in play, unless they are on their own goal-line between the goal-posts. If the free kick is taken from within the kicking team's penalty area, opponents must also be outside the penalty area.

If the defending team forms a "wall" of 3 or more players, all attacking players must be at least 1 metre (1.1 yd) from the wall until the ball is in play.

The ball becomes in play as soon as it is kicked and clearly moves.[1] The ball must be kicked (a goalkeeper may not pick up the ball). A free kick can be taken by lifting the ball with a foot or both feet simultaneously.

A player may be penalised for an offside offence from a free-kick.

Scoring a goal directly from a free kickEdit

Ball goes
directly into
Type of free kick
Direct Indirect
Opponents' goal Goal scored Goal-kick to opponents
Own goal Corner-kick
to opponents

A goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick against the opposing side. A goal may not be scored directly from an indirect free kick, and an own goal may not be scored directly from any free kick. If the ball goes directly into the opposing team's goal from an indirect free kick, a goal kick is awarded to the opposing team. If the goes directly into the kicking team's own goal, a corner kick is awarded to the opposing team.[2]

Infringements and sanctionsEdit

Vanishing spray has been utilised in recent years to indicate the minimum distance for free kicks.

If the ball is moving, or in the wrong place, the kick is retaken. A player who takes a free kick from the wrong position in order to force a retake is cautioned for delaying the restart of play.

If an opponent is less than 10 yards (9.1 m) from the spot where the kick is taken, the kick is re-taken unless the kicking team chooses to take a "quick free kick" before opponents have been able to retreat the required distance. An opponent also may be cautioned (yellow card) for failing to retreat 10 yards,[2] or for deliberately preventing a quick free kick from being taken.

If the kicker touches the ball a second time before it has touched another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, unless this second touch is an illegal handball offence, in which case a direct free kick or penalty kick is awarded.

If an attacking player stands within 1 metre (1.1 yd) of a "wall" of 3 or more defending players, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team.[1]

Quick free kickEdit

A team may choose to take a "quick" free kick, that is, take the kick while opponents are within the 10-yard (9.1 m) minimum required distance. This is usually done for some strategic reason, such as surprising the defence or taking advantage of their poor positioning. The referee has full discretion on whether to allow a quick free kick, and all other rules on free kicks still apply. However, in taking a quick free kick the kicking team waives their entitlement to retake the kick if an opponent who was within 10 yards intercepts the ball.[2] Football governing bodies may provide further instruction to referees on administering quick free kicks; for example, the United States Soccer Federation advises that referees should not allow a quick free kick if a card is shown prior to the restart, if a trainer has to enter the field to attend to an injured player, if the kicking team requests enforcement of the 10-yard rule, or if the referee needs to slow the pace of the match (e.g., to talk to a player).[3]

Scoring opportunitiesEdit

Guilherme Finkler attempts to score from a direct free kick for Melbourne Victory FC

Direct free kicks awarded near the opponent's goal can often lead to scoring opportunities, either from the kick itself or from an ensuing set piece. Accordingly, developing plays from free kicks are an important part of team strategy, and defending against them is an important skill for defenders.

There are various techniques used with direct free kicks.[citation needed] First, the player taking the direct free kick may blast the ball as hard as he can, usually with the laces of the boot. Alternatively, some players try to curl the ball around the keeper or the wall, with the inside or outside the boot. Additionally, certain free-kick specialists will choose to kick the ball with minimal spin, making the ball behave unpredictably in the air (similar to the action of a knuckleball pitch in baseball). The kicker may also attempt to drive the shot under the wall formed by the opposition defenders using the inside of their boot in a passing manner. Free kick takers may also attempt to cross the ball to their centre-backs or strikers to get a header on goal, since they usually are the tallest members of the team, especially if the position of the free kick is close to the wings.


A defending team (red) attempts to block the direct path to goal with a "wall" of players.

Most teams have one or two designated free kick takers, depending on the distance from goal and the side of the field the free kick is to be taken from. The strategy may be to score a goal directly from the free kick, or to use the free kick as the beginning of a set piece leading towards a goal scoring opportunity.

The kicking team may have more than one player line up behind the ball, run up to the ball, and/or feint a kick in order to confuse or deceive the defence as to their intentions; this is usually legal as long as no other infringements occur.

Where there is a potential for a shot on goal to occur from a direct free kick, often the defending side will erect a "wall" of players standing side-by-side as a barrier to the shot. The number of players composing the wall varies based on distance and strategy. It is not fully known when the wall was started. A kicker who has the skill to curl the ball around a wall is at a distinct advantage. Since 2000, referees at the highest levels of football have used vanishing spray to enforce the 10-yard minimum required distance for the wall; referees without vanishing spray may indicate the minimum distance verbally and/or with hand gestures. In 2019, Law 13 was changed to require attacking players to maintain a minimum 1-metre (1.1 yd) distance from a defensive "wall" until the ball is in play.[1]

Offences for which the free kick is awardedEdit

The following are the offences punishable by a free kick in the 2019 Laws of the Game.

Direct free kick / penalty kickEdit

  • handball (except for the goalkeeper within the penalty area)
  • any of the following offences against an opponent, if committed in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:
    • charges
    • jumps at
    • kicks or attempts to kick
    • pushes
    • strikes or attempts to strike (including head-butt)
    • tackles or challenges
    • trips or attempts to trip
  • holding an opponent
  • impeding an opponent with contact
  • biting or spitting at someone
  • throwing an object at the ball, an opponent or a match official, or making contact with the ball with a held object
  • any physical offence, if committed within the field of play while the ball is in play, against a team-mate, substitute, substituted or sent-off player, team official or a match official
  • a team official, substitute, substituted player or sent-off player enters the field of play and interferes with play
  • a player, substitute, substituted player, sent-off player or team official enters the field of play while that person's team scores a goal
  • a player who requires the referee’s permission to re-enter the field of play re-enters without the referee’s permission, and interferes with play

Indirect free kickEdit

  • offside
  • illegal handling by the goalkeeper within the penalty area
  • preventing the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from the hands
  • kicking (or attempting to kick) the ball when the goalkeeper is in the process of releasing it
  • playing in a dangerous manner (without committing a more serious offence)
  • impeding the progress of an opponent without any contact being made
  • dissent
  • using offensive, insulting or abusive language and/or gestures
  • other verbal offences
  • after having already been guilty of serious foul play, violent conduct or a second cautionable offence, a player challenges or interferes with an opponent while the referee is playing advantage (unless another more serious offence was committed)
  • an offence committed outside the field of play by a player against a player, substitute, substituted player or team official of their own team
  • the player taking a kick-off, free kick, penalty kick, throw-in, goal kick, or corner kick touches the ball a second time before it has been touched by another player (unless the second touch is a handball offence punishable by a direct free kick / penalty kick)
  • when a free kick is taken, an attacking player is less than 1 metre (1 yard) from a "wall" formed by three or more defending players
  • a penalty kick does not go forwards
  • illegal feinting at a penalty kick
  • a team-mate of the identified player takes a penalty kick
  • at a penalty kick, both the kicker and goalkeeper commit an offence at the same time, and the kick is scored
  • at a penalty kick, an attacking player encroaches, and the kick is not scored
  • at a throw-in, an opponent unfairly distracts or impedes the thrower, and play is stopped after the throw-in has been taken
  • a player who requires the referee’s permission to re-enter the field of play re-enters without the referee’s permission, but does not interfere with play, and the referee decides to stop play to deal with the offence
  • any other offence, not mentioned in the Laws, for which play is stopped to caution or send off a player


  1. ^ a b c "Laws of the Game 2019/20" (PDF). p. 88.
  2. ^ a b c LAW 13 – FREE KICKS – The direct free kick
  3. ^ "Free Kick and Restart Management" (PDF). United States Soccer Federation. 10 February 2009. Retrieved 10 July 2018.

External linksEdit