Laws of the Game

2020/21

1. Direct free kick

1. DIRECT FREE KICK

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences against an opponent in a manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using excessive force:

  • Within the shooting area

If an offence involves contact, it is penalised by a direct free kick.

  • Careless is when a player shows a lack of attention or concentration when making a challenge or acts without precaution. No disciplinary sanction is needed

  • Reckless is when a player acts with disregard to the danger to, or consequences for, an opponent and must be cautioned

  • Using excessive force is when a player exceeds the necessary use of force and/or endangers the safety of an opponent and must be sent off

A direct free kick is awarded if a player commits any of the following offences:

  • a handball offence

  • holds an opponent

  • impedes an opponent with contact

  • bites or spits at someone

  • throws an object at the ball, an opponent or a match official, or makes contact with the ball with a held object

See also offences in Law 3.

Handling the ball

It is an offence if a player:

  • deliberately touches the ball with their hand/arm, including moving the hand/arm towards the ball

  • scores in the opponents’ goal directly from their hand/arm, even if accidental, including by the goalkeeper

  • after the ball has touched their or a team-mate’s hand/arm, even if accidental, immediately:

    • scores in the opponents’ goal

    • creates a goal-scoring opportunity

The above offences apply even if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from the flick of another player who is close.

Except for the above offences, it is not an offence if the ball touches a player’s hand/arm:

  • directly from the player’s own flick

The player during handling his goalkeeper has the same restrictions on handling the ball as any other player. If the goalkeeper handles the ball outside their penalty area when not permitted to do so, an indirect free kick is awarded but there is no disciplinary sanction. However, if the offence is playing the ball a second time, the goalkeeper must be sanctioned if the offence stops a promising attack or denies an opponent or the opposing team a goal or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity.