Die Spielregeln, English

Law 13: Free kicks

In this article the development of the free kick is described.


In the beginning, the free kick was a reward and it was always indirect. The distinction between direct and indirect free kicks, which is completely normal today, only came about in the 1920s.

Year (Source) new or changed laws (proposing club/association, if known)
1858 (Harrow Football) A free kick is a reward for fair catch, if you additionally call “three yards”. If in Harrow the ball was caught near the opponent’s goal, you could jump 3 yd for reaching the goal or went back and take a free kick as a place kick.
1858 (Sheffield FC) A free kick ist a reward for having first touched the ball after it into the touch or behind the goal. This reward was, depending on the place a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick. When taking a free kick, all players have to stay 6 yd away from the ball or stand on the goal line until the ball is kicked. All free kicks are indirect free kicks.
1863 (Cambridge University) A free kick is a reward for fair catch. The kick may be taken in any manner. All players must be at least 10 yd away from the ball until the ball is kicked and no player is offside.
1863 (FA) A free kick ist a reward for having first touched the ball after it into the touch or behind the goal. This reward was, depending on the place a throw-in, goal kick or corner kick. When taking a free kick, all players have to stay 6 yd away from the ball or stand on the goal line until the ball is kicked. All free kicks are indirect free kicks.
1869 (Sheffield FA) Only the players of the opposing team must be 6 yd away from the ball until it is kicked.
1872 (FA) After the prohibition of Fair Catch (1871) the free kick was handed out as a penalty for an infringement of the law (Harrow Chequers). Initially, it is not specified more precisely in the law when the free kick is handed out.
1874 (FA) Every free kick is an indirect free kick, i.e. a goal cannot be scored directly by it (Harrow Chequers). It was handed out as a penalty for an infringement of the laws of the goal kick, corner kick and offside and handball – all during the game. If a player behaves ungentlemanly during a stoppage in the game, before or after the game, no free kicks may be taken, but cautions and dismissals may be given.
1875 (FA) The free kick is kicked at the point where the infringement of the law occurred (Royal Engineers).
1877 (FA) Added: It was handed out as a penalty for an infringement of the determination of the choice of ends.
1896 (IFAB) A goal can never be scored from a free-kick – except in a penalty kick. Kick-off, corner-kick und goal-kick are free kicks within the meaning of this law (FA).
1903 (IFAB) Only a penalty kick can directly score a goal from a free kick (FA).
1905 (IFAB) When a free kick is performed, the opponents must be at least 6 yd away from the ball. The ball is in play when it makes a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference (FA).
1913 (IFAB) Increase the distance for opponents from 6 yd to 10 yd (FA).
1924 (IFAB) In addition, a corner kick can be used to score a goal directly (SFA).
1929 (IFAB) Removal of the passage, replacing by splitting into indirect free kick and direct free kick (FA).
1931 (IFAB) In addition, the goal scoring is only possible in the opposing goal (FIFA).
1932 (IFAB) As soon as the game has been stopped due to ungentlemanly conduct, it must be restarted with a free kick (FA).
1936 (IFAB) It is added to the passage that opponents may only be closer than 10 yd to the ball if they would otherwise be off the field. In this case they must be on the goal line (FA).
1938 (IFAB) The ball is not in play until it is beyond the penalty area. Players who do not retire to the proper distance when a free-kick is taken must be cautioned. Every attempt to delay the taking of a free-kick is also considered a serious misconduct. It is ungentlemanly conduct to dance or gesticulate as an opponent in front of the player performing the free kick.
1965 (IFAB) If a player of the opposing side encroaches into the penalty-area, or within ten yards of the ball, as the case may be, before a free-kick is taken, the Referee shall delay the taking if the kick, until the Law is complied with.
1978 (IFAB) It is added that – when a player commits an infringement in his opponent’s goal area – the free-kick shall be taken from a point anywhere within that half of the goal area nearest to where the offence occurred (FA).
1980 (IFAB) The data in the metric measurement system are supplemented (FIFA).
1997 (IFAB) Re-Introduction of a passage about indirect and direct free kicks. Kick is retaken, if an opponent is closer to the ball than the required distance or when the ball is not kicked directly into play from the penalty area of the defending team.
IDFK, if the player who performs the free kick plays the ball a second time.
DFK, if, after the ball is in play, the kicker deliberately handles the ball before it has touched another player. The free kick is taken at the place where the infringement against the Law occurred. But if this occurs inside the own goal area of the defending team, it is taken from any point within the goal area, if it occurs in the penalty area of the opponent, a penalty kick is awarded. If the free kick is taken outside the penalty area, the ball is now in play as soon as it is kicked and moves.
2018 (IFAB) It is added, that also offences by substitute, substituted or sent off player, or team official are penalised by a free kick. It is added, that the referee need not show the signal for an IDFK if it is clear that a goal cannot be scored directly.
2019 (IFAB) It is added that if an opposing player infringes the required distance to the ‘wall’, an IDFK is awarded. It is added that where three or more defending team players form a ‘wall’, all attacking team players must remain at least 1 m (1 yd) from the ‘wall’ until the ball is in play.