Law 12 Fouls & Misconduct

Law 12 Fouls & Misconduct


  • Handball text re-written for greater clarity/consistency with clear guidelines for when ‘non-deliberate’ handball should (and should not) be penalized. 
  • Confirmation that an ‘illegal’ handball offence by a goalkeeper in their own penalty area is not sanctioned with a YC/RC. 
  • If, after a throw-in or deliberate pass from a team-mate, the goalkeeper unsuccessfully kicks or tries to kick the ball to release it into play, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball. 
  • Referee can delay issuing a YC/RC until the next stoppage if the non-offending team takes a quick free kick and creates a goal-scoring opportunity. 
  • The YC for an ‘illegal’ goal celebration remains even if the goal is disallowed. 
  •  List of the warning/YC/RC offenses for team officials. 
  • All verbal offenses are punished with an IDFK. 
  •  Kicking an object is punished in the same way as throwing an object. 

Explanation Goal Celebrations:

  • Cautions for inappropriate goal celebrations apply even if the goal is disallowed as the impact (safety, image of the game etc.) is the same as if the goal was awarded. 

Handball further detail and explanation:

  • Deliberate handball remains an offense. 
  • The following ‘handball’ situations, even if accidental, will be a free kick: o the ball goes into the goal after touching an attacking player’s hand/arm. 
    • a player gains control/possession of the ball after it has touches their hand/arm and then scores, or creates a goal-scoring opportunity. 
    • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which has made their body unnaturally bigger •the ball touches a player’s hand/arm when it is above their shoulder (unless the player has deliberately played the ball which then touches their hand/arm). 
  • The following will not usually be a free kick, unless they are one of the above situations: o the ball touches a player’s hand/arm directly from their own head/body/foot or the head/body/foot of another player who is close/near. 
    • the ball touches a player’s hand/arm which is close to their body and has not made their body unnaturally bigger. 
    •  if a player is falling and the ball touches their hand/arm when it is between their body and the ground to support the body (but not extended to make the body bigger). 
    • If the goalkeeper attempts to ‘clear’ (release into play) a throw-in or deliberate kick from a team-mate but the ‘clearance’ fails, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball. 


  • Greater clarity is needed for handball, especially on those occasions when ‘non-deliberate’ handball is an offense. The re-wording follows a number of principles: o football does not accept a goal being scored by a hand/arm (even if accidental). 
    • When the GK clearly kicks or tries to kick the ball into play, this shows no intention to handle the ball so, if the ‘clearance’ attempt is unsuccessful, the goalkeeper can then handle the ball without committing an offense. 
    • if the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by, onto the hands/arms it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball. 
    • having the hand/arm above shoulder height is rarely a ‘natural’ position and a player is ‘taking a risk’ by having the hand/arm in that position, including when sliding. 
    • it is natural for a player to put their arm between their body and the ground for support when falling. 
    • football expects a player to be penalized for handball if they gain possession/control of the ball from their hand/arm and gain a major advantage e.g. score or create a goal-scoring opportunity. 

Explanation Quick Free kick and YC/RC

  • Occasionally, an attack is stopped by a cautionable (YC) or sending-off (RC) offense and the attacking team takes a quick free kick which restores the ‘lost’ attack; it is clearly ‘unfair’ if this ‘new’ attack is stopped to issue the YC/RC. However, if the referee has distracted the offending team by starting the YC/RC procedure, the quick free kick is not allowed. For a DOGSO offense, the player will be cautioned (YC) and not sent-off (RC) because the attack was re-started (as when advantage is applied for a DOGSO offense).