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Soccer Fouls, Offenses, and Misconduct

FIFA Law 12: Soccer Fouls

Offside Flag

In reality, soccer fouls are mostly about common sense. Law 12 covers plays that are prohibited and when committed will result in either a free kick (Law 13) or a penalty kick if the infraction is in the penalty area (Law 14).

These fouls can be divided into major offenses, other offenses, and misconduct.

9 Major Soccer Offenses

Nine offenses are outlined in the rules manual that, when committed, are considered soccer fouls and will result in a direct free kick. In no particular order:
  1. Kicking (or trying to kick) an opponent
  2. Tripping an opponent
  3. Jumping at an opponent
  4. Charging an opponent in particularly dangerous or violent way
  5. Charging an opponent from behind in a violent way
  6. Striking or attempting to strike an opponent
  7. Holding an opponent
  8. Pushing an opponent
  9. Touching the ball with your hands (handling the ball)

Other Offenses

These offenses will result in an indirect free kick being awarded to the other team:
  1. Dangerous play
  2. Charging an opponent cleanly, but with no intention of playing the ball
  3. Interference or Obstruction
  4. Charging the goalkeeper
  5. Goalkeeper not releasing the ball into play correctly
  6. Time wasting or delay of game by the goalkeeper
  7. Goalkeeper using his hands to play the ball after its been kicked to him by a teammate
  8. Offside


Committing any of the following will result in a yellow card and indirect free kick:
  1. You must have the referees permission to either enter or exit the field of play
  2. Showing dissent with the referee, either verbally or through your actions
  3. "Ungentlemanly" or unsportsmanlike conduct
  4. Continuously breaking the other rules
Red cards will be shown when a player:
  1. Commits a particularly violent or serious foul
  2. Uses foul language (either against your opponent or your own team!)
  3. Receives a second yellow card

Things to keep in mind...

  • Stopping a goal using your hand will result in an immediate red card, and a penalty kick for the opposing team
  • Taking a player down on a breakaway when you're the last man back will also result in a red card
  • Calling "my ball" when trying to win a ball is considered ungentlemanly conduct and will result in a foul....instead its expected you say a player's name like for example: "John's ball!" or "Keeper's ball"
  • When receiving a red card, you must leave the field of play and are not able to sit on the players bench...usually this means an early trip to the showers!

Return from Soccer Fouls to Soccer Rules


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