FIFA PENALTY RULES: Football penalties are among the most contested regulations in the game of soccer (association football).
Awarding a penalty kick is often a controversial decision and is usually a game-changer. It is a heart-sinking experience for fans and players.
Learn about the most serious soccer infringement foul – the spot kick. It follows a sharp blast on the whistle by the match official.
It’s usually accompanied by a stern finger pointing straight at the football penalty mark. The spot is a small white painted circle situated 11 metres out from the center of the goal line.
Note: A penalty kick is a soccer rules infringement awarded to the offended team. It results in a direct free kick at goal with only the keeper to beat.
When is a Penalty Awarded in Football?
So, when does a referee award a penalty kick… and why? IFAB Laws 12, 13, and 14 outline a list of offences and penalty rules in football.
The strict governance admonishes players for making dangerous tackles and committing fouls inside the penalty box.
What is IFAB?
It is The International Football Association Board (The IFAB). Their mission is to serve the world of football as the independent guardian of the Laws of the Game.
Committing a penalty comes with the risk of being severely punished by the match referee. The outcome will be a penalty if a player commits a direct free kick offence inside their own penalty area or off the field.
Here’s the kicker:
The referee must decide whether a player broke the game regulation? If so, did the offence take place inside the rectangular penalty area?
If it did, the official is almost certain to blow the whistle and award a direct shot at goal. The awarded team will then nominate a penalty taker.
The kicker will pick a strategy that gives them their best chance of kicking and netting soccer penalty kicks from the spot.
Note: Players must take all penalties in football from a marked spot located inside the penalty box. The penalty kick distance is 12 yards (10.97 metres or 36 feet) out from the centre of the goal line.
FIFA Football Law 14: Rules of a Penalty Kick
How does the referee prepare for penalties in football? The match official will clarify and confirm all these points before a player takes a football penalty spot kick.
- The referee places the ball on the penalty mark (the spot) and it must remain stationary. The goal posts and net must also be still (e.g. not moving). Next, the match official will identify and confirm which player is the nominated penalty kicker for the upcoming shot at goal.
- The goalkeeper must be on the goal line between the goal posts and facing towards the kicker. The goalie must stay on their goal line, between the goalposts, until the shooter kicks the ball.
- All the other players, except the goalkeeper and the penalty kicker, must be a minimum of 9.15 metres (10 yards) behind the penalty mark (and the ball). They must remain on the field but outside of the penalty box, including the penalty arc, until the kicker shoots the ball. At this point, the keeper can only move sideways on the goal line (not forward).
- Penalty Spot Yards:
- The penalty taker shoots the ball towards the goal from 10.97 metres (12 yards) out and tries to score.
- The penalty taker must kick the ball in a forward movement. Even so, they can ‘backheel’ the ball providing it moves forward.
- During football penalties the kicker can only touch the ball once until another player touches the ball. The ball becomes live or ‘in play’ once it gets kicked and it moves.
- The goalkeeper must have at least part of one foot touching the goal line (or in line with it) as the penalty taker kicks the ball.
- Completion of the penalty kick occurs when (either):
- The ball stops moving.
- It goes out of play.
- The referee stops play for any other offence.
- The penalty spot kick results in a goal scored if the ball enters the goal.
Penalty Kicks Extra Time
The referee can allow additional time for a player to complete the kick. This particular penalty rule applies to the end of each 45 minute half of normal play or during extra time.
After allowing extra time, and after the ball gets kicked, the play becomes complete when either:
- The ball stops moving or it goes out of play.
- The ball gets played by any player (including the kicker) other than the defending goalkeeper.
- The referee ends play for an offence committed by the kicker or one of the kicker’s teammates.
Note: In some cases, a penalty can be retaken. It may happen if a defending team player (including the goalie) commits an offence and the penalty is either missed or saved.
Soccer Penalty Rules: Spot Kick Infringements
What if one of the defending players enters the penalty area (or penalty arc), after the referee blows the whistle, but before the kick?
In this case the referee allows the penalty to be retaken if a goal is not scored.
What if the kicker’s teammates enter the area or arc after the referee blows the whistle and before the actual kick? In this case the ref can:
- Make the team retake the penalty – even if they score a goal.
- Award an indirect free-kick to the defending team if they failed to score (e.g. miss the penalty).
FIFA Rules on Feinting a Penalty Spot Kick
Football penalty rules let players use ‘feinting strategies‘ to confuse an opponent when taking a penalty kick. But, the referee can caution the spot kicker if they consider it to be an act of unsporting behavior.
As a rule, illegal feinting performed by the penalty kicker would always result in an indirect free kick. This would be the outcome even if the player ‘scored a goal’.
Even so, players cannot ‘deliberately’ stop at the end of their run up and create a feint that gains an advantage (e.g. by misleading the keeper).
In fact, this is a deliberate infringement of the official Laws of the Game. Despite this, it is sometimes difficult to detect.
The referee would rule this as an act of deliberate unsporting behaviour. The outcome would be the issuance of a yellow caution card and the player loses the chance to have a second shot at goal.
Can You Pass a Penalty Kick?
It is one of the lesser known facts about penalty kicks. But, in actuality, yes you can! To be legal, it must be one of the penalties taken within a regular game and not as part of a penalty shootout.
You rarely see this type of play in the modern game. But, one or two of the more flamboyant players have used this particular penalty kick technique. In most cases, they did it to get a teammate on the scoresheet.
The shooter kicks the ball forward from the penalty mark a few yards or so. One of his teammates runs into the box after they kicked the ball. They shoot the ball into the back of the net – resulting in a goal!
That is how some of the most memorable penalties work in football. It’s risky… but very entertaining for the crowd to see and the TV pundits to comment on.
Can You Score a Rebound from a Penalty Kick?
Even though the simple answer is yes, it would only count under certain circumstances. The penalty must be one taken during a normal game (not a shootout).
First, the ball must first make contact with another player (e.g. the defending goalie). Once that happens, yes… you can hit the rebound and go for a goal.
Note: A ball rebounding off the post would not always count. After it rebounds, the ball must touch some other player before you can score.
Football Penalty Shootout Rules
English Football League competitions started using the ‘ABBA’ penalty shootouts system in 2017-18. It was part of the new FA rules for 2017/18 season.
The aim was to lower the pressure bestowed on the side that would always take the second kick in a shootout.
In the previous system, teams would take turns in a shootout. A coin toss would determine the choice of which team shoots first. For example, team A would go first, then team B, and then team A afterwards.
Under the new football penalty shoot-out rules, teams take pairs of kicks after the initial spot kick. Thus, team A shoots first, followed by team B. Then, team B goes again, followed by team A once more… ‘ABBA’.
Note: The referee will still toss a coin to determine which team shoots first.
Advanced Football Rules
FIFA Soccer Ball Specifications | Check out the size and weight rules for the modern football ball.
Handball Rule in Football | What exactly are the rules on deliberate and accidental ball handling?
Roles and Responsibilities of a Referee in Football | What’s it really like to be a Premier League official?