Direct Free Kick Offenses
Direct free kicks are awarded to the opposing team when a player commits an offense of a violent nature or of physical contact, or the technical offense of handling the ball.
A goal may be scored directly from a direct free kick. A direct free kick is awarded when a player:
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
holds an opponent
spits at an opponent
handles the ball deliberately (except for the goalkeeper within his own penalty area)
Handling the Ball
Handling the ball (usually called simply a “hand ball”) is the only non-violent offense in soccer sanctioned by a direct free kick (or penalty kick, if it occurs in the defending penalty area), but it deserves special attention for another reason: Contact between the player’s hand (or arm, anywhere from the top of the shoulder down) and the ball happens all the time. This is only a violation of the rules if the contact is intentional.
By definition, “Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm” (FIFA Laws of the Game, Law 12).
Handling the ball involves a deliberate act of a player making contact with the ball with the hand or arm.
It means just that: handling the ball. That means the ball was handled by the player. It does not mean that the ball touched somebody’s hand or arm. When you consider what it means to “handle” something, know that this means the player used their arm or hand to deliberately play the ball. There must exist intent to alter the play of the game by use of these parts of the body, and that the action was intentional.
Unintentional (inadvertent) contact with the hands or arm are now penalized if it results in a goal or a goal scoring opportunity.
In the youngest three age groups (age 4, ages 5-6 and ages 7-8), officials are advised to include a little less intentional contact between the player’s hand or arm when enforcing handling the ball. This is because those younger players tend to reflexively reach for balls or otherwise make no effort to avoid hand or arm contact when the ball takes to flight; and penalizing contact which is less intentional and more incidental helps to teach them out of that inclination. Also, incidental contact is far less common in the younger age groups because the ball doesn’t really get up off the ground as much. Finally, the officials assigned to the younger age groups have less experience discerning which handling offenses to call and which to let go. This gives them some latitude as they learn and gain experience.
In the older two age groups (9-10 and 11-13), the officials use a more conventional form of enforcement which is consistent with FIFA’s Laws of the Game: It’s hand to ball, not ball to hand. FIFA’s Laws of the Game say that one should consider the following when enforcing handling the ball:
- the movement of the hand towards the ball (not the ball towards the hand)
- the distance between the opponent and the ball (e.g., unexpected or unavoidable ball contact)
Finally, FIFA’s Laws of the Game give the officials broad discretion in interpreting the rules and in their enforcement. What this means to Walker Recreation is that the officials will make the decision whether to enforce this (and other rules) according to their training and summary judgement. Notify a field supervisor if the performance of the officials comes into question; do not delay or interfere with the flow of the game by showing dissent for their decisions when the clock is running.