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Law 12: Fouls and Misconduct Summarized

Law 12 gives referees the ability to control the game and rout out any misconduct in the game of football.

Important points about law 12

1. A direct free kick is awarded when opposition player wins the ball unfairly by using excessive force, or when a player is reckless, for spitting at other players and using illegal means to win the ball such as holding another player.

2. An indirect free kick is awarded in the following cases:

  • Goalkeeper handles the ball from passback, a throw-in from a teammate, and goalkeeper handles the ball after having released the ball without any other player touching the ball.
  • Fouls committed against goalkeeper such as preventing goalkeeper from releasing the ball.
  • A player plays in a dangerous manner; For example, a player using his feet to play ball in the air while other players are using their heads. 

Learning From example

Example 1: The player kicks the ball when the goalkeeper is releasing the ball

In a match against Santos FC while Ronaldinho was playing for Querataro FC, he steals the ball from the keeper while he was attempting to release the ball. The referee correctly awarded an indirect free kick because Ronaldinho prevented the keeper from releasing the ball.


The same foul was committed Thiery Henry of Arsène Wenger flying Arsenal team against Brad Friedel. Click here to view video

Example 2: Keeper rolls ball on the ground and attacker steals the ball and scores

However, if the goalkeeper rolls the ball on the ground and attacking player steals the ball it is regarded as a legitimate goal. The goalkeeper released the ball without being aware that the attacking player is in a good position to win the ball. A common mistake is made by football fans, to say that goal is not legitimate because the attacking player was not 10 yards away from goalkeeper!


More Information

Read more about Law 14: Penalty Rule

Read more about Hand ball rule change

Read more about Law 16: Goalkick rule change

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