What Is a Penalty in Football

This is an article compiled by FootballTerms about What is a penalty in football updated latest and most complete

What is a penalty in football: Football is a game with many rules. Players are expected to maintain good conduct on the field of play, as well as exercise x of fairness and sportsmanship.

Although in some scenarios, referees who control the flow of the game are left with no choice but to punish a team for committing a foul that contradicts the rules of the sport.

This is particularly evident in the case of penalties.

Penalty kicks are awarded in the event of a player touching and gaining control of the football via their hands or part of their arms. It is through reckless and careless behavior; committing to challenges with excessive amounts of force and through general acts of indiscipline, all within the penalty area.

The list of possible offenses doesn’t even end there!

But I’ll get back to that in a moment.

For now, I’m going to give a bit more insight into what a penalty is.

What is a penalty kick?

According to Law 14 of the International Football Association Board Laws of the Game, a penalty kick is a scoring opportunity given to a team adjudged to have been on the receiving end of a direct free kick offense inside the opposition’s penalty area or off the field as part of the play.

Sounds a bit confusing, right?


A goal can be scored directly from the penalty spot without interference from any outfield opposition.

Committable offenses that may lead to the awarding of penalty kicks

With that definition out of the way, I can now revert to talking about the types of offenses that pave the way for penalties to take place within the game.

So, let’s get started.

1. Handballs

The name “football” tells you all you need to know about this one.

This is a sport that is primarily played with the feet. So any scenario (goalkeepers excluded) where a player deliberately touches the ball with their hand or a part of their arm is regarded as an illegal offense.

Subsequently, a direct free kick or an indirect one is given to the team that suffered the disadvantage from the handball offense.

Most importantly, however, is that referees signal for penalty kicks in situations where the perpetrators illegally handled the ball within their own penalty area.

2. Recklessness, carelessness, or use of excessive force

It’s safe to say that football is a sport that does not tolerate the deliberate or accidental infliction of injuries among its participants.

Therefore, players who “cross the line” by way of making tackles, charges, pushes, and challenges that are excessively forceful, careless, or reckless in nature will be penalized accordingly.

Spot kicks are even given if a player holds, impedes, or even head-butts an opponent within their own penalty area. So it’s important for teams to avoid having these moments of rashness. Because they can impact a football scoreline significantly.

3. Behavioural indiscipline

In a few instances, penalties are awarded when a player carries out any of the following actions within their own 18-yard box:

  • bites or spits on an opponent
  • punches or kicks a teammate, substitute, opponent, or match official
  • throwing an object at the football, an opponent, or a match official
  • interfering with the flow of the game after re-entering the field of play without the express permission of the referee

Here’s a useful table that categorizes all these offenses for ease of future reference:

Where are penalty kicks taken from?

There is a circular spot – indicated with a white paint marking within the 18-yard box. That is where all penalties are taken from.

And this position is always at a distance of 12 yards (10.97 meters) from the goal line where the ball is supposed to be directed towards.

Final thoughts

So that concludes this article on why penalties are given in football.

Just as a simple reminder…

Various situations can lead to penalty kicks being awarded in a football match. It is from a player being found guilty of handling the ball within their penalty area; to holding or impeding an opponent in the box; charging or tackling recklessly.

Don’t forget to visit FootballTerms frequently to know more about soccer rules and terms.

Related Articles

Back to top button