Soccer coaching laws of the game Law 12 fouls and misconducts

These soccer coaching tips are designed to help coaches and players understand the laws of the game. This article looks at Law 12, which deals with fouls and misconducts.

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

  • Kicks or attempts to kick an opponent.
  • Trips or attempts to trip an opponent.
  • Jumps at an opponent.
  • Charges an opponent.
  • Strikes or attempts to strike an opponent.
  • Pushes an opponent.
  • Tackles an opponent in a careless or reckless manner.

A direct free kick is also awarded for these three offences:

  • Holding an opponent.
  • Spitting at an opponent.
  • Handling the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within their own penalty area).

A penalty kick is awarded if one of the ten offences above is committed by a player inside their own penalty area. Irrespective of the position of the ball, provided it is in play.

An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team if a goalkeeper, inside their own penalty area, commits any of the following four offences:

  • Controls the ball with their hands for more than six seconds before releasing it from their possession.
  • Touches the ball again with their hands after releasing it and before it has touched another player.
  • Touches the ball with their hands after it has been deliberately kicked to them by a team-mate.
  • Touches the ball with their hands after they have received it directly from a throw-in taken by a team-mate.


An indirect free kick is also awarded to the opposing team if, in the opinion of the referee, a player:

  • Plays in a dangerous manner.
  • Impedes the progress of an opponent.
  • Prevents the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from their hands.

Yellow and Red cards

Red and yellow cards are not usually used until the players are in the upper age groups. These are given for behaviour such as serious foul play, violent conduct, unsporting behaviour, dissent and delaying the restart of play. Check local regulations for your league. Red and yellow cards usually result in fines for the club and the player.

The referee blows the whistle to signal a breach of the laws of the game

Click the link to read Law 11, the rules governing offside.

Click the link for coaching tips to help you handle a match where your players are facing a team that cheats.

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