Direct Free Kick offences are known as 'penal offences' in Referees'
jargon. During the taking of a Direct Free Kick a goal may be scored
directly - but only against the opposing team.
A team taking a direct free kick cannot score a goal against themselves.
For example - if a defending team takes a direct free kick just outside
of their own penalty area, and the defending team player kicks the ball
directly into his own goal (without the ball touching another player) a
goal is not allowed. The restart in this situation is a corner kick to
the attacking team. If the direct free kick in this example was taken
inside the defending team's penalty area, then the restart in this
situation is to retake the direct free kick (because the ball only comes
into play during the taking of a direct free kick by a defending team
inside its own penalty area when the ball wholly leaves the defending
team's penalty area without being touched by another player.
A direct free kick cannot be awarded:
- (a) For an offence committed whilst the ball is NOT in play. (e.g.
before and whilst a goal kick, a corner kick, a throw-in, a free kick or
a place kick is taking place.) For example: If the ball is out of play
pending the taking of a throw-in, and a player thumps an opponent on the
field of play - the play is restarted with the throw-in, and not a
direct free kick. After you have sent off the culprit of course!
- (b) For any offence committed between players of the same team.
- (c) For an offence committed against the Referee, the Assistant
Referee or any other person who is not a player.
- (d) For any offence committed off the field of play.
A direct free kick is taken from where the offence occurred. A direct
free kick can only be awarded for an infringement committed against an
opponent, provided that the ball is in play. A direct free kick takes
place where the offence happened and not where the ball was when the
Referee stopped play (except deliberately handling the ball). For
example - if an attacker in the center circle passes the ball to his
colleague who is 15 yards outside of the center circle, and then an
opponent decides to chop off the legs of the first attacker who is still
in the center circle - the Direct Free Kick will be taken from inside
the center circle and not where the ball was when the Referee stopped
If a direct free kick offence is committed by a defending team player
against an attacking team player inside the defending team's penalty
area, then a penalty kick is awarded to the attacking team to be taken
from the penalty mark. Opponents must be 10 yards (9.15m) away from the
ball when a direct free kick is taken. If a team decides to take a quick
direct free kick before the opposition players have had a reasonable
amount of time to retreat the 10 yards (9.15m), and the ball
subsequently hits a retreating opponent who is near the ball, then it is
not expected that the direct free kick should be taken again. By taking
a quick direct free kick, the team has attempted to gain an advantage
over their opponents. This is fair in Law, but if the advantage does not
accrue, they should not be given a second chance - this would be unfair
and against the 'spirit of the game'. Referees are strongly advised
(when they can) to personally conduct any attacking free kicks near or
in the defending team's penalty area. Ask the players who are taking the
free kick if they want a whistle signal from you (the Referee) before
the free kick takes place. Players are entitled to take a quick free
kick if they want too. But asking the players beforehand will prevent
any misunderstandings that could and will develop if a quick free kick
is taken and a goal is scored. If an attacking team does decide to take
a quick free kick before you have asked the players if they want to wait
for a signal from you, and a goal is scored - then so long as no
infringement has occurred during the taking of the free kick, the goal
must be allowed. Aim to be consistent in your handling of free kicks
near the penalty area - this will save you lots of trouble.
A free kick (direct or indirect) awarded to the defending team inside
its own goal area, may be taken from any point within the goal area.
An indirect free kick awarded to the attacking team in its opponents'
goal area, is taken from the goal area line parallel to the goal line at
the point nearest to where the infringement occurred (see diagram
below). In this case, the defenders must be at least back on the goal
line, when the indirect free kick is taken.
And just to remind you... a direct free kick awarded to the attacking
team in its opponents' goal area is... a
The Referee should signal a direct free kick by firstly
blowing his whistle to stop play, and then pointing an
outstretched arm upwards about 45 degrees from the horizontal,
and in the direction that the direct free kick is to be taken.
It can also help if you can shout... "Direct Keeper" towards the
goalkeeper as a matter of courtesy.
Players normally do not have a clue if a free kick should be
Direct or Indirect, and as part of man-management, it is
recommended that you tell them when you can.
To indicate a free kick, the Assistant Referee will raise and wave his
flag backwards and forwards, then point his flag in the direction that
the free kick should be taken (as shown in the 2 images to the right).
There is no need to make a big show of waving the flag for too long.
If the Referee has not seen the offence, it can also sometimes help, if
the Assistant Referee indicates why he signaled for a direct free kick.
Discrete small signals by the Assistant Referee towards the Referee such
as 'shirt pulling', 'elbowing' and 'pushing' motions will help the
Referee understand the nature of the offence. This is all part of the
unseen communication between the
Referee and his Assistant Referees.
Listen to the ~ Law-12-Direct-Free-Kick-DFK-IFK-DroppedBall.MP3 ~ file... ~ Downloadable MP3's for on the go study! ~
Difference between a Direct Free Kick, an Indirect Free Kick and a
Before we go on to look at the Direct Free Kick offences, it can
sometimes be difficult for new trainee Referees to differentiate between
a direct free kick, an Indirect Free Kick or a 'Dropped Ball' restart.
A Direct Free Kick, an Indirect Free Kick or a Dropped Ball
can only be
awarded if the Referee needs to stop play whilst the ball is on the
field of play (for an offence or a serious injury).
- Direct Free Kick:
There is ONLY 10 Direct Free kick offences. A direct
free kick offence can only be awarded when a player commits an offence
against an opposing player whilst the ball is in play. A Direct Free
Kick cannot be awarded for offences committed between players of the
same team, or for offences committed whilst the ball is NOT in play, or
for offences committed off the field of play, or for offences committed
against the Referee or team officials or spectators.
- Dropped Ball: A dropped ball is used to restart play when play has been
stopped under the following circumstances:
Due to external interference (such as a dog entering the field of play)
If a serious injury is suspected
After a temporary stoppage that becomes necessary while the ball is in
play - for any reason not mentioned elsewhere in the Laws of the Game
(such as a player losing his shorts!!)
For any other reason which is not covered by Direct and Indirect
A dropped ball restart cannot be awarded for offences committed whilst
the ball is NOT in play
Indirect Free Kick: There are hundreds of reasons to restart play with
an Indirect Free Kick. Basically, if the stoppage in play is for a foul
or an offence that does not merit the award of a Direct Free-Kick, then
an Indirect Free Kick is the correct restart.
Please note, that on all the above Direct Free Kick,
Dropped Ball and
Indirect Free Kick restarts, the ball must have been in play when the
referee stops play.
A Free Kick (Direct or Indirect) or a dropped ball restart cannot be
awarded for offences committed whilst the ball is
NOT in play.
If an offence occurs before the ball has come back into play during the
taking of a goal kick or a throw in, play is restarted with either the
original goal kick or the original throw-in.
Listen to the ~ Law-12-Direct-Free-Kick-Six-Offences.MP3 ~ file... ~ Downloadable MP3's for on the go study! ~
Six 'careless, reckless or using excessive
force' Direct Free Kick Offences:
!!!!!!!!! News Flash !!!!!!!!!
It is important to emphasize that the 6 Direct Free Kick offences shown
below is considered by you the Referee
to be careless, reckless or using excessive force.
(See question 2 below) You make this decision - so do not be influenced by anyone else!
1. Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent:
2. Trips or attempts to trip an opponent:
3. Jumps at an opponent:
4. Charges an opponent:
5. Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent:
6. Pushes an opponent:
- A direct free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a player commits
any of the following six offences (numbered 1 to 6) on an opponent in a
manner considered by the referee to be careless, reckless or using
excessive force, and whilst the ball is still in play:
- 1. Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent.
Only the slightest example qualifies, including when a player attempts
to kick an opponent - he does not have to make actual contact. A failed
kick is just as guilty as a kick, which connects. Kicks can include
ankle taps, heel kicks. The kicking action is intended to unbalance an
opponent, cause the opponent to falter or prevent the opponent from
losing the race for possession of the ball. Kicking or attempting to
kick an opponent is normally a sending off offence (serious foul play or
violent conduct). I would suggest that, at the very least, guilty
players should be Cautioned.
It can sometimes be difficult to decide whether a kicking player is just
trying to gain an advantage by 'tripping' an opponent, rather than
kicking the opponent in a fit of anger with the intention of causing the
opponent an injury. The Referee must differentiate between a kick and a
Any player who purposefully kicks or attempts to kick an opponent in
anger, MUST BE SENT OFF THE
FIELD OF PLAY. A player who trips an opponent is normally
- 2. Trips or attempts to trip an opponent.
A player will use this ruse in an attempt to make his opponent lose
balance, lose possession of the ball, falter or fall to the ground. The
foot is normally used to trip an opponent, but it is not unknown for a
player lying on the ground to stretch out an arm or leg to trip an
opponent. An attempted trip is just as guilty as a successful trip. For
example: If a defending team player attempts to trip an attacking player
in the defending team's penalty area, but the attacking player skips
over the tackle - the attempted trip is still a Direct Free Kick
offence, and because it occurred in the defending team's penalty area
the result is a penalty kick to the attacking team.
Tripping can also be caused by use of the thigh, body or the back
- 3. Jumps at an opponent.
You can usually tell when a player has jumped at an opponent rather that
attempted to jump for the ball - look at the opponent's eyes or the
direction of his face beforehand. When a player is genuinely jumping for
the ball, he will normally be looking straight at the ball. Watch for
players jumping into opponents during a challenge for a high ball -
watch the direction of the jump - is it towards the ball?, or is it
towards an opponent?. If it is towards the opponent, then award a direct
free kick to the opponent's team. Even the slightest jump towards an
opponent is enough to unfairly unbalance that opponent whilst he is
attempting to head the ball.
Jumping at an opponent usually happens when the ball is kicked high in
the air, and one player attempts to head the ball away, but is
challenged by an opponent who because he cannot make fair contact with
the ball, jumps at the opponent instead - in an attempt to unbalance the
opponent and fool the Referee into thinking that this is a fair
challenge. Jumping at an opponent can also occur in many other
situations such as an attacking player jumping at a goalkeeper whilst
the goalkeeper is attempting to catch a high ball. Referees are advised
to be wary of jumping offences particularly after the following
restarts: Free Kicks: Goal Kicks: Corner Kicks: and Throw-ins.
- 4. Charges an opponent.
Awarding an Indirect Free Kick for a 'Fair Charge' when the ball was not
in playing distance is no longer in the Laws of Associated Football -
and was taken out of the Laws in the 1998/99 season.
There is no such thing as penalizing a fair shoulder-charge when the
ball is NOT within playing distance.
A FAIR CHARGE is now either
a foul or it is
not a foul.
Charging is either a foul
or it is not a foul.
If two players are running towards the ball, and one (or both players)
shoulder-charges the other, the Referee needs to decide if a foul has
actually been committed or not - and by whom.
If both players, which the Referee deems
NOT to be a foul -
make a simultaneous innocuous shoulder charge the game should be allowed
to continue. Football is a physical contact game, which allows players
to jostle each other whilst trying to gain fair possession of the ball.
A dangerous charge occurs when it is directed at a different part of an
opponents body such as the middle of the back, or in the ribs; such a
charge even if applied with minimal force is likely to knock the player
off balance, or cause some physical injury. A player has to be penalized
when charging in a manner, which is careless, reckless or using
A player who violently charges an opponent must be sent-off for Violent
Conduct - look out for this, particularly during a melee when large
numbers of players converge following an incident. A charge to anywhere
other than the area of the shoulder or upper arm can be dangerous.
The Referee and the Assistant Referees should aim to get into the best
possible position to view charging incidents. Aim to try and be
alongside players and get a sideways view. The Assistant Referee is
sometimes in a better position to judge such challenges.
The Referee needs to decipher the nuances of what is a foul and what is
not a foul during shoulder-to-shoulder contact. Deciding this can be
difficult between players of largely differing statures. For example - a
large heavy player charging a very small player may look to be an
obvious foul when compared to a small player blatantly charging a large
heavy player. Jostling for the ball often includes shoulder-to-shoulder
contact between opposing players. This is a normal part of the game. It
is the severity of the shoulder-to-shoulder contact that deems whether
it is a foul or not. The two extremes are a gentle rub of the shoulders
between players contesting for the ball, and a blatant violent shoulder
charge. The varying levels between these two extremes can be difficult
to judge particularly in the mid-range of the spectrum.
A small player is quite capable of fouling a large player by the use of
his shoulder. Conversely, it requires less strength for a large player
to have the same effect on the smaller player. It is therefore not the
size of the respective players that matters, it is the result of the
shoulder-charge, and whether or not the Referee judges it's effect to be
a foul or not.
Punishments for charging:
- A Direct Free Kick (or penalty) should be awarded to opponents if a
charge is deemed by the Referee to be a foul, irrespective of whether
the players' are within playing distance or attempting to play the ball
- A Penalty should be awarded if a charge is deemed to be a foul
committed on an opponent by a defending player in the defending player's
own penalty area.
- A player should be sent-off player off, if a charge is deemed to be a
foul and it prevents a goal scoring opportunity.
- A player should be sent-off if a charge is deemed to be violent
conduct or serious foul play (example - using excessive force).
If a simultaneous innocuous shoulder charge
is made by both players which the referee deems not to be a foul - the
" Just shout '50/50' get on
with it !! "
Players stepping in front of an opponent = impedance (indirect free
kick) and not a charging (direct free kick) offence.
- Foul Charging also depends on the size or weight of an opponent.
- 5. Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent:
A strike is a blow delivered with the hand or arm. The slightest example
qualifies. For example, it only needs a finger in the right place at the
right time to cause serious damage to an opponent's eye. Striking is
usually the result of a player losing his temper, and done in a fit of
anger, or it can be calmly done in the 'cold light of day'. A failed
strike is just a serious as a strike that connects. A strike also
includes when a goalkeeper throws the ball (or any other object such as
a water bottle) at an opponent.
The reason why a player may react violently in this way are numerous, I
have listed just a few examples below for you to consider. There are
many many more..........
Striking or attempting to strike, includes when a goalkeeper throws the
ball at an opponent (or a colleague for that matter.)
For example: If the ball is
still in play, and a goalkeeper who is in his own penalty area
deliberately throws the ball at an opponent who is standing outside of
the penalty area, then you must award a penalty to the opponent's team.
The offence of throwing the ball commenced inside the goalkeeper's
penalty area, and is a penal offence, hence the award of the penalty
kick against the goalkeeper. It does not matter where the opponent is
standing (inside or outside of the goalkeeper's penalty area) or whether
the ball hits the opponent or not. Caution or send-off the goalkeeper
depending on the severity of the throw.
- 6. Pushes an opponent:
A push is normally executed by use of the hand, but it is also possible
to push using the thigh, stomach, shoulder, backside etc.... Only the
slightest example qualifies. It is very easy to unbalance an opponent
with a slight push. Players are very good at disguising such motions.
You will need to be particularly vigilant when opponents are challenging
for a high ball, where slight pushes to unbalance opponents are very
common occurrences. Try to get a side view of players when any high ball
is being challenged for.
Listen to the ~ Law-12-Direct-Free-Kick-Four-additional-Offences.MP3 ~ file... ~ Downloadable MP3's for on the go study! ~
The following four Direct Free Kick offences do not have to be committed
with a careless, reckless or excessive force action. It is the action
itself and not the severity of the following four offences that is the
Direct Free Kick offence.
A direct free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if a player
commits any of the following four offences (Numbered 7 to 10):
7. Tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact
with the opponent before touching the ball.
8. Holds an opponent.
9. Spits at an opponent.
10. Handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his
own penalty area).
- 7. Tackles an opponent to gain possession of the ball, making contact
with the opponent before touching the ball.
This offence is fairly easy to spot as a Referee, so long as you keep
concentrating on the game action. Any contact with a player during a
tackle - no matter how slight a contact - before the ball is touched by
a tackler, is deemed a Direct Free Kick.
This does not include the normal shoulder to shoulder
Body contact (see above) made between players,
But refers generally to when (for example) the red player above attempts
to make a challenge for the ball with his leg from the blue opponent,
but before the red player touches the ball with his leg (or foot) - the
red player's leg touches the opponent. This is a Direct Free Kick foul.
The severity of the tackle is not a factor in deciding whether the
tackle is an offence or not.
Another example of this is when one player tackles another player from
behind, but before the player tackling from behind makes contact with
the ball, his leg hits the back of the opponents leg. It is irrelevant
whether the tackling player eventually makes contact with the ball or
In these situations, you (the Referee) will undoubtedly receive many
pleasantries from the tackling players, such as " But I played the ball
Ref.". Just wave these protests away - if the tackling player persists
in moaning about your decision, you can of course Caution him. In these
situations, you can sometimes explain to the tackling player, telling
them that they made contact with the opponent first, before they touched
the ball. It works sometimes!!!!!. Make a note of where the first
contact was made. For example: after an initial tackle by a defender
just outside of the penalty area, the forward momentum of the players'
involved can sometimes continue on into the penalty area. So be sure to
make the correct decision to award a direct free kick outside of the
penalty area, and not a penalty (if the initial contact was made outside
of the penalty area).
An opponent who falls over the ball after a clean tackle on the ball,
has not been fouled, unless the challenge was from behind - or the
tackle was careless, reckless, or using excessive force.
- 8. Holds an opponent.
Holding normally means clutching an opponent's arm or shirt. Shirt
pulling has become popular, and Referees World-wide have been asked to
'clamp-down' on players found guilty of this offence. It is often very
difficult to see shirt pulling and holding, you will sometimes have to
rely on vigilant Assistant Referees, or good positioning to observe,
minimize and penalize this offence. The definition of holding is when a
player holds or grasps an opponent, with the aim of unfairly stopping
the opponent from moving where he wishes to go.
The use of the hand during holding is not important, opponents can be
(a) the body leaning against them,
(b) an arm detaining their progress,
(c) a wrist on the shoulder thus preventing a player jumping,
(d) by placing a foot on top of an opponents foot, thus preventing opponents from jumping upwards.
Holding is a direct free kick offence and must not be confused with the
impeding (obstruction) indirect free kick offence when a player
purposefully puts out an arm to impede the progress of an opponent. An
impeding offence (obstruction) is when the offender puts out his arm
without first making contact with the opponent, with the aim of blocking
the opponent's path. The opponent's momentum may eventually propel him
into the outstretched arm - an indirect free kick for impeding
(obstruction) should be awarded for this offence. The offence of holding
is a more serious offence that warrants a direct free kick, and is when
the offender purposefully holds back an opponent by making instant
holding contact with his arm or shoulder against that opponent.
The Referee should give a player who just holds an opponents shirt a
strong warning. The Referee should caution a player who holds and then
tugs or pulls an opponents shirt, causing that opponent to falter or
fall to the ground -.
- 9. Spits at an opponent.
Attempting to spit and/or spitting at an opponent is deemed a penal
offence and a direct free kick is to be awarded at the place where the
spitting originated from, and not where the spit lands.
For example: If whilst the ball is in play, a defender who is standing
inside his own penalty area, spits at an opponent (the opponent can be
standing inside or outside of the defender's penalty area) - a penalty
kick should be awarded, even if the ball was at the other end of the
field of play. The spitting offence took place inside the defending
player's own penalty area, and is a direct free kick offence, therefore
it must be a penalty. It does not matter where the ball was at the time
of the offence, so long as the ball was still in play. Spitting must be
strongly dealt with. Spitting or attempting to spit at anyone, is now a
sending-off offence in its own right.
Anyone guilty of this filthy offence MUST be sent-off
The offence of spitting (or throwing an object) actually takes place
from where the spit (or object) was propelled. i.e. If the ball is in
play, and a player standing inside his own penalty area spits (or throws
an object) at an opponent who is standing outside of the penalty area,
the restart is a penalty kick (and NOT a direct free kick taken where
the spit or thrown object lands). The spit (or object) does not have to
hit its target for it to be an offence.
A direct free kick should only be awarded, if a player spits at an
opponent whilst the ball is in play. If whilst the ball is in play, a
player standing on the field of play spits at a colleague, at the
Referee or at a manager, or at someone in the crowd, the Referee should
stop play, send the culprit off, and restart with an
INDIRECT FREE KICK
at the place where the spitting offence occurred. A direct free kick can
only be awarded for an offence committed against an opponent.
- 10. Handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within
his own penalty area).
This offence is my pet hate. Players will insist on shouting
every time the ball goes anywhere near the upper body.
HAND BALL MUST BE 100% DELIBERATE BEFORE IT IS PENALIZED
'Ball to hand' is the well-known term used by Referees to describe an
accidental handball. I very rarely give handballs unless it is blatantly
200% obvious that a player purposefully moves his hand towards the ball
with the intention of cheating his opponents. It is immaterial if after
the ball accidentally hits a player's arm or hand, it subsequently falls
to that player's advantage.
Not all deliberate handballs are deliberate.
Pardon, have I made a
typing error NO: If a ball is blasted towards a players middle bits!!!,
and that player deliberately moves his hand towards the ball to deflect
what could possibly be a very painful experience, then I would not
penalize him for doing this - what would you do in a similar situation ?
A similar occurrence sometimes happens when players in a 'Defensive
Wall' protect their heads from being knocked off. If the action is done
in self defense, then I will ignore it, and shout to any moaning players
to "Get on with it"! As a 'rule of thumb' I also do not penalized
players when an opponent has blasted the ball towards them from close
range, and the ball makes contact with the hand. It is virtually
impossible for a player to purposefully handle a ball with the aim to
cheat his opponent, if the ball is blasted at him from 5 yards at a
speed of 100 miles an hour.
Again shout - "Get on with it"!!!
Another piece of useless information - the handball offence is the only
direct free kick offence not given against an opponent - wow!!
(c) strikes, the ball.
Question: What exactly is Handball, which area of the arm is deemed
Answer: See the ball areas on diagram below. A player, who deliberately
uses this part of his anatomy to control the ball, is guilty of
The top of the shoulder area is not deemed Handball
Listen to the ~ Law-12-Direct-Free-Kick-Summary-Ten-Offences.MP3 ~ file... ~ Downloadable MP3's for on the go study! ~
Question 1: How can the
Referee decide what level of punishment to issue when a player commits a
foul that is careless, reckless or using excessive force?
- If a player commits a careless foul, the Referee should warn the
player about his misconduct.
- If a player commits a reckless tackle, the Referee should caution the
- If a player commits a tackle using excessive force, the player should
be sent off.
Question 2: Just exactly what
do the words careless, reckless, and using excessive force mean?
Answer 2: Firstly, we must not forget that football is a tough combative
sport with lots of body contact between players. Gaining possession of
the ball should nevertheless be done in a sporting manner - most
challenges for the ball can (and are) committed fairly (if sometimes in
a vigorous fashion) and should not always be penalized by the Referee.
Serious foul play and violent conduct (including spitting) are strictly
forbidden, and must be stringently dealt with by the Referee.
Careless is when a player attempting to challenge for the ball which is
in close proximity to an opponent, puts a great deal of honest effort
into the challenge, but wildly mistimed it, and in doing so fouls the
This includes when a player challenging for the ball has not exercised
proper care or has misjudged or mistimed a tackle when making his play,
or when a player has miscalculated the strength required to challenge
fairly or has overstretched his leg when making the challenge. This type
of foul is common, and should be penalized with an award of a direct
free kick (or penalty if occurring in the guilty player's own penalty
area) - and a quiet verbal warning by the Referee. A careless tackle
does not necessarily warrant a caution, depending on the severity or the
number of persistent offences committee previously by the perpetrator. A
quiet word usually suffices in normal circumstances.
The word careless can also mean, absent-minded, hasty, heedless,
inconsiderate, negligent, regardless, thoughtless, unconcerned, and
The Referee must also learn to differentiate between an act carried out
against a youth, and a similar act carried out against a senior (more
older) player - what is an excessive push on a minor youth player, might
not even be noticed in a professional match involving senior players,
where body contact is more prevalent, stronger and readily accepted as
part of the game.
Reckless is when a player makes a challenge in a manner where there is a
clear risk of endangering an opponent, but pays no regard to the
possible consequences and the safety and/or welfare of his opponent.
This includes when a player has made a challenge for the ball, and it is
done in such a way that it clearly intimidates (or distracts) an
opponent, regardless of any potential danger to that opponent. The
challenger himself does not have to make contact with the opponent (many
opponents who are being tackled are adept at 'riding' challenges by
jumping up to prevent contact being made) the intimidation alone is
enough to warrant the tackling player being penalized. For example, a
reckless sliding tackle may be executed with the sole aim to intimidate
an opponent, or distract him from shooting towards goal. The punishment
for a reckless challenge is a direct free kick to the opposing team (or
penalty if occurring inside the perpetrator's own penalty area) and a
caution for unsporting behavior if the reckless challenge was outside
the sporting bounds expected in normal play. A strong verbal warning by
the Referee is also recommended.
The word reckless can also mean, daredevil, devil-may-care, foolhardy,
harebrained, hasty, headlong, heedless, imprudent, inattentive,
irresponsible, madcap, mindless, negligent, over venturesome, rash,
regardless, thoughtless and wild.
I like the word 'harebrained'; this sums up (for me) what a reckless
challenge is all about! (Webmaster).
Excessive force is when a player makes a challenge, which may be
malicious or brutal and may be designed to hurt or maim an opponent.
This are the worst types of tackles to deal with, and is when a player
has placed an opponent in considerable danger of being injured by the
use of unnecessary force when making a challenge for the ball.
If the challenge involves excessive force far outside the bounds
expected in normal play, this is a serious foul play/, and the Referee
must send the player off, and award the direct free kick to the opposing
team (or penalty if occurring in the perpetrator's own penalty area).
Winning the ball first, is not an excuse for a challenge of this nature
to be deemed legal. Players who plead their innocence because they have
"won the ball" just before breaking an opponents leg in a tackle using
excessive force, should be strongly, immediately and properly dealt with
by dispatching from the field of play with a Red card.
Question 3: I was Refereeing
a match the other day. What happens when a goalkeeper is running to kick
the ball out of his hands, and he crosses the edge of his penalty area
(ever so slightly) before he kicks the ball out of his hands? Should he
be sent off for a deliberate handball or cautioned or just penalized by
the award of a free kick to his opponents?
Answer 3: This is a tricky situation to deal with. Normally, as a
Referee, you should be positioned on your diagonal somewhere near the
halfway line when the goalkeeper eventually kicks the ball out of his
hands. It is therefore impossible for the Referee to judge such
incidents with complete accuracy - and in such cases the Referee would
need a long periscope to judge whether or not the goalkeeper had
slightly stepped over his penalty area line or not, or if the ball is
still being held in his hands outside of the penalty area.
In higher-level games, the Assistant Referees would make those
decisions. If you are near the halfway line, be 100% sure before you
penalize a goalkeeper for handball outside of his the area. The
punishment for a goalkeeper handling the ball outside of his area whilst
he is attempting to punt the ball up field from his hands is a direct
free kick to the opposing team (you do not send the goalkeeper off in
this instance (unless you are issuing a second caution to the
When watching a game, take a very close look at how goalkeepers'
actually complete this maneuver. Very often, the goalkeeper actually
kicks the ball when both he and the ball have traveled outside of the
penalty area, BUT if you watch very carefully, most goalkeepers'
actually release the ball from their hands whilst they are still just
inside their penalty area. It is only their momentum that takes them
(and the ball) outside of the penalty area and in nearly all such cases
they have not committed an offence.
For example, they release the ball up into the air whilst they are just
inside of their penalty area, the goalkeeper (and the ball) then travel
outside of the penalty area before the goalkeeper kicks it up-field. The
goalkeeper has committed no offence, and is allowed to kick the ball
outside of his penalty area, because once outside of the penalty area -
the goalkeeper becomes another outfield player.
It is the moment that he releases the ball that you should be looking
for, and not when he kicks it. It is difficult to judge this from a
distance and it would need to be seen from a sideways view to be in the
best position to discern if it was an offence or not. If you are unsure,
let play carry on.
The easiest way to understand this,....is that a goalkeeper can stand
outside of his penalty area reach inside of his penalty area and handle
the ball. No offence has been committed. It is only when his hands and
the ball are outside of the penalty area that it becomes an offence. So
it does not matter where his feet are - so long as he does not handle
the ball outside of his penalty area.
Question 4: If the goalkeeper
moves outside of his penalty area to control a ball last touched by the
opposing team, is it permissible for the goalkeeper to dribble the ball
back into his penalty area and then pick it up?
Answer 4: The goalkeeper has not committed any infringements and should
be allowed to continue with the game. The goalkeeper is entitled to pick
up any ball within his own penalty area, so long as it was not
deliberately kicked or thrown directly to him by a colleague taking a
throw-in (Note also, the goalkeeper is not allowed to handle the ball a
second time after it has been released from his possession, and before
it has touched another player.) When the goalkeeper leaves his penalty
area, he is deemed to be just like another (outfield) player, and as
such, he is allowed to play the ball with his feet. Concerning the
incident mentioned in the question....... an infringement only occurs if
the ball was played back to the goalkeeper deliberately by a team
mate....... and the goalkeeper (who is standing outside of his penalty
area) dribbles the ball back into the area and then picks it up with his
hands. If this happens, an indirect free kick should be awarded to the
attacking team because the goalkeeper handled the ball after it had been
deliberately kicked back to him by a teammate.
Question 5: An attacking
player and a defending player were chasing a ball near the defender's
goal. They were running alongside each other - somewhat
shoulder-to-shoulder, with the attacking player gaining from being half
a step behind. The attacking player was able to stretch a leg alongside
and around the defending player who had possession of the ball, and this
tackle resulted in the ball ricocheting into the defenders goal, and the
opponent falling onto the ground. Should the goal be allowed?
Answer 5: Technically, a tackle of this nature is only a foul, if the
player making the tackle, makes contact with any part of the opponent,
before connecting with the ball (see Law 12). It is also a foul if the
tackle is made from behind. If during this tackle from the side, the
attacking player made contact with the ball without first touching the
defending player, then the goal should count (as no infringement had
occurred). In tackles of this nature, the momentum of the fair challenge
on the ball, sometimes unbalances the opponent, and it can look as
though the opponent was fouled before the ball was touched. If the
attacking player made contact with the defenders leg (before making
contact with the ball) - then this is a foul, and a direct free kick
should be awarded to the defending team.
There may be occasions in instances like this, when the Referee is not
sure what decision to make.
Law 5 states, "The decisions of the Referee regarding facts connected
with play are final." So it does not really matter whether the Referee
gets it right, or whether he gets it wrong - so long as the decisions
are made honestly. Referees should not worry about 'honest decisions'.
All Referees will make mistakes. The secret is to learn from them -
anyone who thinks that they are perfect, is bound to get disappointed.
Those of us, who recognize that we are human, will learn to accept our
mistakes and move forward.
Question 6: A goalkeeper
comes to the very edge of his penalty area and saves the ball with his
chest. When the ball spills away from him, he strikes out an arm and
grabs at the ball with his hand and then realizes that his momentum has
taken him outside of his penalty area. Should the Referee send him off?
The rules clearly state that if a keeper handles outside the area he
should not be on the field of play.
Answer 6: There is nothing in the Laws to specifically 'pillory' a
goalkeeper for this offence. The Law does say that if a player
deliberately handles the ball and denies the opposing team an obvious
goal scoring opportunity then yes, he should be sent off. As soon as
the goalkeeper comes out of his penalty area he becomes just another
outfield player, and is subject to the Laws the same as they are. The
crux of making a decision of this type depends on whether the Referee
thinks that there was a goal scoring opportunity or not. The Referee
makes that decision and nobody else. It is a tough call to make, and
Referees should not shirk that responsibility. If the Referee deems that
the action by the goalkeeper prevented an obvious goal scoring
opportunity, then the goalkeeper should be sent of. If it was not an
obvious goal scoring opportunity, then the opposing team should be
awarded a direct free kick at the place where the goalkeeper touched the
ball with his hand outside of the penalty area. The Referee can also
consider cautioning the goalkeeper for deliberately handling the ball.
Question 7: While the ball is
in play a player standing inside his own penalty area throws an object
at an opponent standing outside the penalty area. What action does the
Answer 7: He stops play and sends off the player who threw the object
for violent conduct. Play is restarted by a direct free kick to the
opponents' team taken from the place where the offence occurred, i.e.
where the object struck or would have struck the opponent.
Question 8: How can a Referee
decide whether to give (a) just a direct free kick, or (b) a direct free
kick and a caution when the player pulls an opponent's shirt.
Answer 8: When holding actually becomes pulling, it becomes a caution
able offence. If two players are in close contact and one player grabs
the other players shirt, it is just a free kick, but if one of the
players is breaking away with the ball and is pulled back, this is
unsporting behavior for which the perpetrator
MUST be cautioned. (From
Philip Don - during seminar with the Select Referees in England 2001)
Question 9: (From
Weston-Super-Mare England Referee colleague).
I had awarded a direct free kick to the away team on the edge of the
penalty area. I thought I did everything right, getting the wall back 10
yards (9.15m) and then running backwards to a spot level-ish to the
penalty mark - so as to watch encroachment and the goal line in the
unlikely event of an accurate shot!! As the player ran up to take the
kick (about a step away from the ball) one of the players in or around
the wall shouted,
"Miss it you ugly c**t!"
The ball sailed harmlessly over the bar and I ran over to diffuse the
situation. The thing is, as I said to them, if I knew who said it they'd
have been off, but because I didn't, I couldn't take any action. Was I
right in this decision? My only thought was could I have given an IFK
around where the voice came from, for unsporting behavior - even without
issuing any cards?
Answer 9: The fact that you could not identify the individual in the
wall who said "Miss it you ugly c**t!" as the free kick was being taken,
means that you cannot take disciplinary action against that individual
(whoever he may have been). You were correct in castigating the
defending team. Not being able to identify the perpetrator is just bad
luck on the Referee's part. Referees will learn from such incidents, and
next time will keep a closer eye on proceedings. It is not very often
that an incident of this nature will occur - but it does happen from
time to time.
During a free kick, the ball does not come into play until it had been
touched and moves forward (Law 13). In this instance, the comment was
made as the kicker touched the ball. If the Referee is quick enough,
then he could blow his whistle before the kicker touches the ball. But
in real life, this would be very difficult to achieve, and may serve to
'put the kicker off' when retaking the free kick thus giving the
advantage to the infringing team.
The possible restarts in this situation are as follows:
(a) Award an indirect free kick for unsporting behavior to the attacking
team at the spot where the wall (and the offending comment) was made.
(b) Goal kick to the defending team.
(c) Retake the free kick.
Let's take each possibility at a time.
(a) Award an indirect free kick for unsporting behavior to the attacking
team at the spot where the wall (and the offending comment) was made.
As the comment was made before the free kick took place, and whilst the
ball was out of play, you cannot award another free kick in a different
position. In short, you cannot award free kicks for incidents happening
when the ball is out of play (i.e. before the original kick took place).
(b) Goal kick to the defending team.
Because you did not blow your whistle to stop play before the kicker
completed the free kick, then a goal kick is a possible option. But it
gives the offending team the advantage â€“ this is definitely against
the "Spirit of The Game."
(c) Retake the free kick.
Taking all things into consideration, a retake may be a better option.
The fact that the guilty defender committed an unsporting act before the
free kick took place, with the sole aim of distracting the player taking
the free kick, should lead to the attacking team being allowed to retake
the free kick properly.
Law 5 (Referees Power and Duties) states that the Referee can stop,
suspend, or terminate the match, at his discretion, for any
infringements of the Laws. This is a part of the Laws that you can use
to allow the free kick to be retaken.
Taking all things into account, and the complexity of the incident, I
would probably have taken the same action as you and awarded a goal kick
restart â€“ but to ensure fair play, and using the Laws correctly, the
free kick should have been retaken (because the incident happened before
the kick took place). But to be honest, players would not have a clue
about what should be the correct decision's so whatever you do would be
correct. If you gave a dropped ball, they would be none the wiser !!!!
And neither would most Referees. This was a very difficult decision for
you to make in an instant, and you did OK. Some times, you have to rely
on instinct and mostly it works as it did in your case.
Many thanks colleague, for this very interesting and complex question, I
just hope that it never happens to me!!!
Well done if you have made it this far to the end of the Law 12 DIRECT
FREE KICKS page.