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What's new in 2019/20: Laws for free-kicks

20 Jul 2019

Updated Laws of the Game prevent attacking players from standing within a yard of a defensive wall

Ahead of the 2019/20 season, we look at the new things to keep an eye out for in the Premier League.

The International Football Association Board (IFAB) have updated the Laws of the Game, and we are examining what has changed.


Goalkeepers facing free-kicks will no longer have to deal with intruders in their defensive wall.

In previous seasons, players from the attacking team might have tried to stand among their opponents to create holes in the wall or block the 'keeper's view.

This has often caused management problems for the referee and wasted time, while it is also against the spirit of the game.

From now on, when there is a wall of three or more defenders, the attacking players will not be allowed within a yard of it.

If one is caught standing within that area when the free-kick is taken, the referee will award an indirect free-kick against them.

Playing out from the back

Goalkeepers will also now be able to play shorter goal-kicks and free-kicks inside their penalty area.

The ball will no longer need to leave the box before it can be played.

Experiments have shown that this produces a faster and more constructive restart.

It has also stopped the tactic of time-wasting whereby a defender deliberately plays the ball before it leaves the penalty area, knowing there will be no punishment and the goal-kick will simply be retaken.

Opponents must still remain outside the box and at least 9.15m away until the ball is in play.

Delaying a card

Teams on the attack will now be given a better chance of maintaining their momentum and finding the net following a foul.

If the referee is about to show a yellow or red card but a quick free-kick is taken and creates a goalscoring opportunity, the referee can delay the card until the next stoppage.

However, if the offending team has been distracted by the referee starting the procedure of issuing the card, the quick free-kick will not be allowed.

For an offence that denies an obvious goal-scoring opportunity, the player will be cautioned rather than sent off because the attack was restarted.

Tomorrow: Laws for handballs

See: What's new in 2019/20?

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