Law 12 - Fouls and Misconduct

A player who intentionally commits any of the following nine offenses:

shall be penalized by the award of a DFK to be taken by the opposing team from the place where the offense occurred, unless the offense is committed by a player in his opponents' goal-area, in which case the free-kick shall be taken from any point within the goal-area.

Should a player of the defending team intentionally commit one of the above nine offenses within the penalty-area, he shall be penalized by a PK.

A PK can be awarded irrespective of the position of the ball, if in play, at the time an offense within the penalty-area is committed.

  1. A player committing any of the five following offenses:
  2. playing in a manner considered by the referee to be dangerous, e.g. attempting to kick the ball while held by the goalkeeper;
  3. charging fairly, i.e. with the shoulder, when the ball is not within playing distance of the players concerned and they are definitely not tying to play it;
  4. when not playing the ball, intentionally obstructing an opponent, i.e. running between the opponent and the ball, or interposing the body so as to form an obstacle to an opponent;
  5. charging the goalkeeper except when he
  6. when playing as a goalkeeper and within his own penalty-area:

    shall be penalized by the award of an IFK to be taken by the opposing side from the place where the infringement occurred, subject to the overriding conditions imposed in Law 13.

    A player shall be cautioned and shown the yellow card if:

    (j) he enters or re-enters the field of play to join or rejoin his team after the game has commenced, or leaves the field of play during the progress of the game (except through accident) without, in either case, first having received a signal from the referee showing him that he may do so. If the referee stops the game to administer the caution, the game shall be restarted by an IFK taken by a player of the opposing team from the place where the ball was when the referee stopped the game, subject to the overriding conditions imposed in Law 13.

    If, however, the offending player has committed a more serious offense he shall be penalized according to that section of the law he infringed.

    (k) he persistently infringes the Laws of the Game;

    (l) he shows, by word or action, dissent from any decision given by the referee;

    (m) he is guilty of ungentlemanly conduct.

    For any of these last three offenses, in addition to the caution, an IFK shall also be awarded to the opposing side from the place where the offense occurred, subject to the overriding conditions imposed in Law 13, unless a more serious infringement of the Laws of the Game was committed.

    A player shall be sent off the field of play and shown the red card, if, in the opinion of the referee, he:

    (n) is guilty of violent conduct;

    (o) is guilty of serious foul play;

    (p) uses foul or abusive language;

    (q) is guilty of a second cautionable offense after having received a caution.

    If play is stopped by reason of a player being ordered from the field for an offense without a separate breach of the Law having been committed, the game shall be resumed by an IFK awarded to the opposing side from the place where the infringement occurred, subject to the overriding conditions imposed in Law 13.

    (Decisions of the International F.A. Board)

    (1) If the goalkeeper either intentionally strikes an opponent by throwing the ball vigorously at him or pushes him with the ball while holding it, the referee shall award a PK, if the offense took place within the penalty-area.

    (2) If a player deliberately turns his back to an opponent when he is about to be tackled, he may be charged but not in a dangerous manner.

    (3) In case of body contact in the goal-area between an attacking player and the opposing goal-keeper not in possession of the ball, the referee, as sole judge of intention, shall stop the game if, in his opinion, the action of the attacking player was intentional, and award an IFK.

    (4) If a player leans on the shoulders of another player of his own team in order to head the ball, the referee shall stop the game, caution the player for ungentlemanly conduct and award an IFK to the opposing side.

    (5) A player's obligation when joining or rejoining his team after the start of the match to 'report to the referee' must be interpreted as meaning 'to draw the attention of the referee from the touchline. The signal from the referee shall be made by a definite gesture which makes the player understand that he may come into the field of play; it is not necessary for the referee to wait until the game is stopped (this does not apply in respect of an infringement of Law 4), but the referee is the sole judge of the moment in which he gives his signal of acknowledgment.

    (6) The letter and spirit of Law 12 do not oblige the referee to stop a game to administer a caution. He may, if he chooses, apply the advantage. If he does apply the advantage, he shall caution the player when play stops.

    (7) If a player covers up the ball without touching it in an endeavor not to have it played by an opponent, he obstructs but does not infringe Law 12 para. 3 because he is already in possession of the ball and covers it for tactical reasons whilst the ball remains within playing distance. In fact, he is actually playing the ball and does not commit an infringement; in this case, the player may be charged because he is in fact playing the ball.

    (8) If a player intentionally stretches his arms to obstruct an opponent and steps from one side to the other, moving his arms up and down to delay his opponent, forcing him to change course, but does not make "bodily contact" the referee shall caution the player for ungentlemanly conduct and award an IFK.

    (9) If a player intentionally obstructs the opposing goalkeeper, in an attempt to prevent him from putting the ball into play in accordance with Law 12, 5(a), the referee shall award an IFK.

    (10) If, after a referee has awarded a free-kick, a player protests violently by using abusive or foul language and is sent off the field, the free-kick should not be taken until the player has left the field.

    (11) Any player, whether he is within or outside the field of play, whose conduct is ungentlemanly or violent, whether or not it is directed towards an opponent, a colleague, the referee, a linesman or other person, or who uses foul or abusive language, is guilty of an offense, and shall be dealt with according to the nature of the offense committed.

    (12) If, in the opinion of the referee a goalkeeper intentionally lies on the ball longer than is necessary, he shall be penalized for ungentlemanly conduct and

    (a) be cautioned and an IFK awarded to the opposing team;

    (b) in case of repetition of the offense, be sent off the field.

    (13) The offense of spitting at officials and other persons, or similar unseemly behavior shall be considered as violent conduct within the meaning of section (n) of Law 12.

    (14) If, when a referee is about to caution a player, and before he has done so, the player commits another offense which merits a caution, the player shall be sent off the field of play.

    (15) If, in the opinion of the referee, a player who is moving toward his opponent's goal with an obvious opportunity to score a goal is intentionally impeded by an opponent, through unlawful means, i.e. an offense punishable by a free kick (or a PK), thus denying the attacking player's team the aforesaid goal-scoring opportunity, the offending player shall be sent off the field of play for serious foul play in accordance with Law 12(n).

    (16) If, in the opinion of the referee, a player, other than the goalkeeper within his own penalty-area, denies his opponents a goal, or an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, by intentionally handling the ball, he shall be sent off the field of play for serious foul play in accordance with Law 12(n).

    (17) The International F.A. Board is of the opinion that a goalkeeper, in the circumstances described in Law 12 5(a), will be considered to be in control of the ball by touching it with any part of his hands or arms. Possession of the ball would include the goalkeeper intentionally parrying the ball, but would not include the circumstances where, in the opinion of the referee, the ball rebounds accidentally from the goalkeeper, for example after he has made a save.

    (18) Subject to the terms of Law 12, a player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head or chest or knee, etc. If, however, in the opinion of the referee, a player uses a deliberate trick in order to circumvent article 5(c) of Law 12, the player will be guilty of ungentlemanly conduct and will be punished accordingly under the terms of Law 12; that is to say, the player will be cautioned and shown the yellow card and an IFK will be awarded to the opposing team from the place where the player committed the offense. In such circumstances, it is irrelevant whether the goalkeeper subsequently touches the ball with his hands or not. The offense is committed by the player in attempting to circumvent both the text and the spirit of Law 12.

    1992 Memorandum - Advice to Referees:

    1. The word "kicks" in the foregoing text (re goalkeeper use of hands) refers only to circumstances where a player plays the ball with the foot or feet.

    2. Similarly, a deflection with the foot or feet is permitted in circumstances where it is not intentional (involuntary deflection or miskick from a teammate).

    3. In situations where the ball is deliberately kicked by a teammate away from the goalkeeper (e.g. to the side of the goal), but with the intention that the goalkeeper may collect it, the spirit of the Law is that this would be regarded as an intentional pass to the goalkeeper. Therefore, if in such situations, the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands, an indirect free-kick must be awarded.

    It is no longer legal for the goalkeeper to pick up or touch with his hands a ball intentionally kicked to him by a teammate. This means that any ball intentionally directed by a teammate's foot to a place where the goalkeeper can play it may not be touched by the keeper's hands. He may play it with any other part of his body, but not with the hands. If the teammate plays the ball with some part of the body other than the feet, then the goalkeeper is allowed to pick up the ball. In addition, if the ball comes to the goalkeeper, having last been played unintentionally by a teammate's foot, the goalkeeper may pick the ball up.

    Here are two examples to make the concept clearer: First, a defender dribbles the ball out of the penalty area and then pushes it with his foot back into the penalty are for the goalkeeper, who moves to the ball and picks it up; second, the defender dribbles the ball out of the penalty area and leaves it for the goalkeeper, who goes outside the penalty area to the ball, dribbles it back into the area, and picks it up. Both of these situations are clear violations of the Spirit of the Game and should be punished through the awarding of an indirect free kick to the attacking team from the spot where the goalkeeper picks the ball up.

    No trickery may be used to get around the terms of the amendment to Law 12. A player may pass the ball to his own goalkeeper using his head, chest, knee, etc.; however, if, in the opinion of the referee, the player uses a deliberate trick -- such as flicking the ball to his head with his foot and heading it to the goalkeeper or kneeling and deliberately pushing the ball to the goalkeeper with his head or knee -- he must be cautioned for ungentlemanly conduct. It makes no difference whether or not the goalkeeper touches the ball with his hands; the offense is committed by the player who is seeking to circumvent both the Spirit and Letter of the Law.

    The changes will eliminate the common time wasting tactic of kicks to the goalkeeper that opponents cannot effectively challenge because of goalkeeper's special privileges.

[Rules.] [Law 11: The Off-side.] [Law 13: The Free-kick.]