Free kick in Soccer
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What Is A Free-Kick In Football? – Ultimate Guide

Football is a diverse game. There are many terminologies used in football that cause confusion sometimes. One of them is a free kick in football. 

While watching a football game, you should have noticed that whenever a player commits a foul, the referee immediately stops the play, and the team against which the foul is committed gets a free kick. 

What is a Free-kick?

Free-kick in football is when a foul has been committed, thus the receiving team is awarded a kick. The match is stopped until the referee blows the whistle so that the free-kick is taken. So, when a free kick is awarded to a team, they can either kick the ball directly into the goal or they have to pass the ball first before shooting into the goal

types of free-kick in football

The two scenarios described in previous lines are basically the two cases of freekicks. Means, there are two types of free kicks which are as follows 

  1. Direct Free Kick In Football
  2. Indirect Free Kick In Football

The Mystery of Direct and Indirect Free Kicks

Whenever an offence is committed by one team against the opponent team, a free kick is awarded to the opponent team. Now, the question arises, which type of free kick has been awarded and what would be the procedure for carrying out that free kick? 

The answer to that question depends on the kind of offence committed. After analyzing the offence, the referee decides which free kick should be awarded. 

direct free-kick:

So, if the awarded free kick is of number 1 type or direct free kick, you are eligible to shoot directly into the goal without having to pass the ball to any middle man. It means, it is one touch free kick and that is also why it is regarded as number 1 free kick. 

indirect free-kick:

On the contrary, if the indirect or number 2 free kick is awarded, rules state that football must be passed to another player before it can be kicked into the goal. Thus, it is a two-touch freekick and this is the reason why it is also known as number 2 free kick. 

Now, if you are wondering what will happen if the indirect free kick is directly shot into the goal? Well, in that case, the opponent team will get a free goal kick. 

Another important point to be noted is that if a foul worth a free kick is committed inside the penalty area then instead of a free kick, a penalty kick is awarded. 

Free Kick Signals

Ok, so a foul has been committed and now players are looking at the referee who is deciding whether the offence committed is worthy of a direct or an indirect free kick. 

Once he has decided, he has to signal the players to communicate the type of free kick he is awarding. For that purpose, he has two types of signals, one for the direct free kick and other for an indirect free kick.  

Direct Free Kick Signal

For a direct free kick, the referee blows his whistle and extends his arm horizontally. When players see this signal, they instantly understand that a direct free kick has been given.  

Indirect Free Kick Signal   

For an indirect free kick signal, the referee blows his whistle and extends his arm vertically above his head. This signal indicates to the players that an indirect free kick has been given.  

What are the General Free Kick Rules?

The play is stopped when a foul is committed by any teams’ player. So, to restart the play and take the free kick, basic formalities are essentially the same independent of what kind of free kick has been awarded.  

rules of free-kick in football


Below, we will discuss the rules on how to take a free kick after the foul has been committed. It must be kept in mind that all free kicks follow the Law 13 of the IBAF laws of the game. 

  • Before restarting the play, it must be made sure that the ball is not moving, ergo it is stock-still. 
  • After the ball has been touched and consequently moved, only then it will be considered in play. 
  • The player taking the free kick is only eligible to touch the ball once. 
  • The spot where the offence occurred, the free kick must be taken from that exact spot. But if the foul occurs off the pitch, the play is started from the spot nearest to that area. 
  • If the foul is given by the umpire within the teams’ goal area, then the team is allowed to station the ball anywhere within that area. 
  • The teams’ players defending the free kick are only allowed to stand or form a wall ten yards away from the spot of the free kick.

What Causes a Direct Free Kick?

There are numerous types of offences if committed by a player of any team playing, a free kick is given to the opponent team. 

So, let us take a look down below where we discuss the possible reasons due to which a direct free kick can be awarded 

Use of unnecessary extra force

Most of the free kicks awarded by the referee is due to the imprudent behavior of a player. If the referee considers that a certain player has used an excessive force or recklessness while  

  • Pushing or jumping at an opponent player. 
  • A kicking or striking attempt on an opponent player. 
  • Unnecessarily holding onto an opponent player. 
  • A grave attempt of tripping or trying to trip an opponent player. 


The only person who is allowed to touch the ball with hands is the person keeping the goal, aka the goalkeeper. Other than that, if any player commits the handball, a direct free kick will be awarded to the team against which the foul has been committed. 


If any player is found guilty of acting out rashly or causing distastefulness in the peaceful environment of the game, a free kick is awarded to the opponent team. 

Such actions include 

  • Spitting at opponent 
  • Physical offence committed against an opponent 
  • Toss an object or ball at an opponent or the referee 

This kind of behavior is intolerable and often results in yellow or red cards given to the player. 


This is a rare case scenario. But we have seen it happen so this factor must be included. 

In any scenario, no one is allowed to enter the pitch or interfere with the play without the match official’s consent. So, if a substitute or a teams’ official enters the pitch without seeking referee’s permission first, a free kick is awarded to the opponent team.  

causes of free-kick in football

What Causes an Indirect Free Kick?

An indirect free kick can be awarded for several reasons. They are less common than the direct free kicks as the offences which result in the awarding of indirect free kicks happen scarcely. 

So, the general infractions which result in an indirect free kick awarded to the opposition are as follows 

  • If a player is caught offside, an indirect free kick is awarded. This is the most common infraction behind an indirect free kick being awarded to the opposition. 
  • Illegal handling of the ball by goalkeeper 
  • Impeding an opponent teams’ player without any physical contact. 
  • Dissent between a player and match official or between two or more than two players. 
  • A player attempted to kick the ball while the goalkeeper was releasing it. 
  • Tried to Impede the goalkeeper while he was releasing the ball. 
  • Playing in a reckless way not necessarily committing any foul or infraction. 
  • Making offensive gestures or being abusive towards other players. 
  • Entering the pitch without the match referee’s consent but not interfering with the play. 
  • If a player tries to distract or obstruct the player in any way taking a throw-in. 

Other than the above-stated infractions, there are some more due to which an indirect free kick can be awarded to the opponent team.  

Such infractions are related to penalties triggering the match referee to award indirect free kicks to the opponent team. 

Those infractions include 

  • The penalty failed to go forward. 
  • An illegal feint was made by the player taking a penalty to distract the goalkeeper. 

what is the difference between free-kick & penalty?

As we have already discussed various offences and infractions. It’s easy to answer this question. Free-kick is awared when an infraction occurs outside the penalty area of Goalie’s D, while the penalty-kick is the result of infractions occured with the penalty area and Goalie’s D.

However, unlike free-kick, there is no player’s wall in the penalty-kick. Instead, the penalty taker faces the lone goalkeeper who tries to block the football from going inside his net.

the penalty spot:

There is another difference, unlike the free-kick, the penalty-kick has a fixed spot in the penalty area. No matter where the penalty infraction occured inside the D, the penalty-kick is always taken from that fixed spot infront of the goal post. The penalty spot is 12 yards from the goal line in the goal-post!


As we know, more than half of the population considers themselves to be football fans around the world. More than 240 Million people globally play this game. 

Still, some of the people feel mystified by some of the terminologies related to football. In this article, we tried to clear all the possible queries one could have about the free kicks in football. 

So, after reading this article, you must have a clear idea about what free kicks are and how they are carried out during the play. 

We discussed the two types of free kicks and general rules of free kick applied by the Law 13 of IBAF laws of the game. 

In addition to that, we also discussed the possible reasons due to which a direct or an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposition. 

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