LOTG: Law 13–Free Kicks

Law 13–Free Kicks

Law 13 is a fairly straightforward discussion on the Free Kick

  • who can get penalized for committing an infringement of the Laws,
  • the proper signaling for the IFK (which is slightly different that the signaling for a DFK),
  • what happens if the ball goes directly into the goal on an IFK or DFK
  • the procedures followed during the taking of a Free Kick (it does not discuss Penalty Kicks, which have their own “Law”)
  • the ramifications of when the opponents infringe on the taking of a Free Kick or when the FK is taken incorrectly (i.e. “double touch”).

In Law 12 we discussed the various fouls/offences that result in either Direct Free Kicks or Indirect Free Kicks. I mentioned that it’s very important to “get your restarts right,” and by that I mean awarding the correct free kick for the particular infringement. You don’t want to award a DFK when the offence warrants an IFK, and vice versa. You certainly DON’T want to award an IFK or DFK, when the infringement warrants a PK !!!  This boils down to knowing Law 12 inside and out—what are the fouls and infringements, which type of free kick do you award, and where the kick takes place. The bottom line is, someone broke the rules (for which play will be stopped), and they deserve to be penalized. The team that was offended deserves a fair restart and ‘compensation’ for their grievance. Let’s award these free kicks and conduct them correctly!

WHO are we talking about here? In previous versions of the LOTG, only a “Player” could be guilty of an offence, and a Free Kick awarded to the opponent.  Free Kicks were only awarded for fouls committed by a player, against an opponent, on the field of play while the ball was in play. The newer version (2018) of the LOTG has expanded the “who” to include Substitutes, Substituted or Sent Off Players, and-yes-Team Officials.

How do we SIGNAL for an IFK?  The referee blows the whistle, and then raises his/her arm vertically to indicate that the restart will be an Indirect Free Kick. Then they need to themselves into position (where they anticipate play will be after the kick). Prior LOTG say the arm is kept up until the ball is touched by another player or the ball goes out of bounds. The CHANGES to the LOTG for 2019 will state that you can lower the arm if you decide/determine there is no way the kicked ball will go directly into the goal. (This is a little energy saver, rather than running great distances with your arm held up vertically until the ball is touched by another player or goes OOB.)

How do we signal for a DFK?  Though not covered specifically in this Law (not sure why), when signaling for a DFK the referee blows the whistle, and then points his/her arm in the direction of play that the offended team will be going. (You point in the direction of the goal they will be heading towards—and then hustle yourself to the area where you anticipate you need to be.)

What if the ball goes directly into a goal?  (meaning on a free kick, the ball goes directly into the goal without touching another player)

  • on an IFK?  Goal disallowed. A goal cannot be scored directly from an IFK.  Restart with goal kick (since last touched by an attacker) for the opponents
  • on a DFK?  Goal counts! A goal can be scored directly from a DFK (that’s why its called a “direct” free kick). Restart with a kick off for the team that was scored upon
  • Trick Test Question: on an IFK or DFK, if the ball goes directly into the kicker’s OWN goal (unlikely but not impossible), what is the restart?  Answer: Corner Kick for the opponents; goal does not count.


Where is the free kick taken from?   From the place where the offence occurred…


  • Attacking team awarded an IFK for an offence committed inside the defending team’s Goal Area?
    • From the goal area line parallel to the Goal Line, closest to where the offence occurred
    • Defenders can form a wall on the goal line, between the goalposts, otherwise they need to be at least 10yds from the ball
  • Defending team awarded any Free Kick within their own goal area?
    • From anywhere inside that Goal Area
  • Free Kicks awarded involving a Player “entering, re-entering, or leaving the field of play without permission?
    • From the position of the ball when play was stopped if he/she did not interfere with play (IFK)–Law 3 particular
    • From “the position of interference” if he/she interferes with play (DFK)–Law 3 particular
  • Player leaves FOP during the normal course of play and commits a foul outside the FOP?
    • FK is taken from the Boundary Line closest to the offence.
      • Note: In this situation if the foul is committed near the defender’s penalty area, by the defender, a Penalty Kick would be awarded for a DFK offence (!).
  • The Law designates another position (please re-read Laws 3, 11, 12)

How is the kick taken?

  • the ball must be stationary
  • the person taking the kick cannot touch the ball a second time (“double touch”) until it has been touched by another player (IFK)
  • the ball is “in play” once it has been kicked and clearly moves”
  • Opponents: must be at least 10 yards from the ball
    • SM Guidelines–normally the Min Req’d Distance would be the same as the radius of the Center Circle, but at the youngest age divisions we don’t use a Center Circle. Also, on some fields, the “field markings” may be outdated and don’t reflect the recent Player Development Initiatives (PDI’s)
      • 5-6U “greater than 5 yards
      • 7-8U “6-8 yards”
      • 9U-10U “8 yards”
      • 12U  “8,10 yards” –depends on the size of the Center Circle and these may differ from field to field
      • 14U and older 10 yards


Breaking Law 13 means the opponents have not given the team that has been awarded a Free Kick the minimum required distance owed them. It also might happen if the kicker taking the restart kicks the ball a second time (“double touch”) before the ball had been touched by another player.

Min Req Dist–if the opponents are closer than they are supposed to be (required distance), the kick is re-taken.

  • This is a thing…opponents will often dawdle around in front of the ball when a team is readying to take the free kick that they deserve after being fouled; it’s a stalling technique often used so their teammates can get back into position before the fouled team takes the kick. This is not a right that they think they are due; the only right they have, after just committing a foul, is not to be misled by the referee that a free kick is being awarded to the offended team. They don’t get to delay a restart, which in and of itself is a Cautionable Offence (and the referee may award a Yellow Card for this kind of infraction–but remember we don’t card in 10U and below and we try really hard not to do it in 12U either).
    • As Referee, you should warn (loud and clear) that this will not be permitted, especially if you think they are doing this as a stalling technique. Tell them to back up, quickly. If you have a real rascal that is obviously delaying the restart, blow the whistle (to make sure play does not continue, and you get his attention) and have a word with him/her. By interjecting yourself into the situation in this way (delaying the restart), you will then need to blow the whistle again to signal that it’s ok for the kicker to take the FK.
    • If the opponents have moved back, but the distance is not enough, the person taking the kick might look to you for a little help or ask you for the distance–in either case you ‘show him/her the whistle’ and tell the kicker to wait for the whistle while you then march off the required distance for the opponents. In doing this you have made this free kick a “ceremonial” one, which requires a whistle before play can restart. Once players are positioned correctly and you have gotten into position, blow the whistle and play mar restart.

Kicker kicks the ball a second time before it is touched by another player?  Restart for opposing team with an IFK