Friday Jan 27, 2023

Exploring Penalties in International Football

Penalties in soccer are an important part of the game. They can be used to score goals or to stop the other team from scoring, making it a huge game-changer in a match. Due to the pivotal nature of penalties, it is not uncommon for teams and players to utilise this as part of a strategy, which has both advantages and disadvantages. 

In this article, we’ll be going into a deep dive into the mechanics of the football penalty. We’ll be touching on terms and concepts such as the penalty kick, how it works, the foul rules that are followed, as well as other aspects of football surrounding penalties. 

Football Penalties and Fouls

A football penalty is a punishment given to a team by the referee for violating the rules of the game. This is a concept recognised in almost all kinds of international football games and variations played across the world. The punishment is usually a free-kick called the ‘penalty kick’ taken from the spot where the offence occurred.

The most common type of penalty is when a player commits an offence inside their own penalty area, which results in a goalkeeper being unable to take possession of the ball. This is also known as a ‘penalty kick,’ and it gives the attacking team an opportunity to score a goal without interference from other players. This is done by kicking the ball from twelve yards (11 metres) out directly at the goalkeeper.

Other types of penalties can include: handball, fouls, offside, and playing dangerously. If a player commits more than one offence during the same passage of play, the referee may choose to award two or more separate penalties.

Yellow Cards and Red Cards

A yellow card is a warning given to a player by the referee. If they get another yellow card in the same match, they are shown a red card and sent off. A red card means the player is not allowed to play anymore in the match, and they may also be given a suspension. This means they cannot play in their next match, depending on how severe the referee decides the offence was.

While yellow and red cards are most commonly associated with football (soccer), they can also be used in other sports, such as rugby. The purpose of yellow and red cards is to help referees control matches and ensure that players behave appropriately. They can be used for offences such as dissent, violent conduct, or even getting too close to the referee.

Penalty Kick

A penalty in soccer is a kick taken from the spot on the field where a foul has been committed, as determined by the referee. The player taking the penalty kick is usually one of the forwards or midfielders.

The ball must be placed on the ground and struck with only the foot unless it is being volleyed (hit while in the air). The kicker must aim at one of the goalposts and should not touch the ball a second time until it comes in contact with another player. If successful, the ball is put into play by either being kicked off from where it left the ground or played by another player who gains possession.

Penalty Kick

Normally, if a goalkeeper commits a foul inside their own penalty area, which leads to a penalty kick being awarded, they are allowed to take a replacement goalkeeper. If the goalkeeper is yellow-carded or sent off, then an outfield player comes on as the goalkeeper.

If the penalty kick is saved by the goalkeeper, or if it goes wide of the goal, the ball is played by one of the defending players (usually the goalkeeper), and the match resumes as normal. If a goal is scored from a penalty kick, play restarts with an indirect free kick to the opposing team from where the penalty was taken.

The Importance of Free Kicks

There are a few things that go into making a great penalty kick. The player needs to be able to strike the ball with power and accuracy, and they need to be able to judge how much power to put behind it depending on the distance to the goal. They also need to be aware of the goalkeeper’s movements and be able to adjust their kick accordingly.

Some of the best players in the world are known for their amazing penalty kicks. Cristiano Ronaldo is one of the best at striking the ball with power and accuracy, while Lionel Messi is known for his ability to score goals even when the goalkeeper is moving quickly to save them. Neymar is another player who is known for his incredible penalty kicks, as well as his showmanship.

Despite the skill involved, penalties can also be a bit of a gamble. The ball can move in any direction once it’s kicked, so it’s impossible to predict exactly how it will go. This makes them both exciting and unpredictable. Whether you’re rooting for the kicker or the goalkeeper, there’s nothing quite like watching a penalty kick.

There are several techniques that can be used when taking a penalty kick. Some players may choose to place their shot towards a certain corner of the goal, while others may try to power their shot into the top corner. Players may also attempt to deceive the goalkeeper by feinting to shoot one way before striking the ball in the other direction.

A player who is fouled while taking a penalty kick is awarded an automatic yellow card, as are all players from both teams who are within 10 yards of the ball when it is taken.


A foul in soccer is an illegal action committed by a player. Fouls can be categorised as either minor or major, and they can result in either a free kick or a penalty kick.

Minor fouls are those that do not cause an injury to another player and do not require a yellow card to be shown. These types of fouls typically result in a free-kick. For example, tripping an opponent, pushing them, or striking them with a closed fist would all be considered minor fouls.

Major fouls, on the other hand, can result in injury to another player and always require a yellow card to be shown. These types of fouls typically result in a penalty kick. For example, tackling someone from behind, elbowing them in the face, or kicking them would all be considered major fouls.

The referee decides whether a foul is minor or major, and they also decide what action should be taken as a result. When a player commits a minor foul, the referee may just award a free-kick to the opposing team. However, if a player commits a major foul, the referee may also issue a yellow card to the player and/or send them off of the field.

Most Common Fouls

There are a number of fouls that can be made in a game, and they can result in various penalties depending on the severity of the infraction. Some common penalties include a free-kick, a yellow card, or a red card. The most common fouls are:

  1. Illegally handling the ball (e.g., holding, carrying, or batting the ball with any part of the body except for the hands)
  2. Tripping an opponent
  3. Jumping into an opponent
  4. Charging into an opponent from behind
  5. Kicking or striking an opponent
  6. Pushing an opponent
  7. Intentionally handling the ball to prevent an opponent from taking a clear shot on goal
  8. Obstructing an opponent’s vision or playing in a dangerous manner
  9. Making contact with the referee, assistant referee, fourth official, or any other match official
  10. Spitting at an opponent or any other person
  11. Denying an obvious goal-scoring opportunity by deliberately handling the ball (e.g., by blocking it with arm or hand when far from the goalkeeper’s goal)
  12. Expressing offensive, insulting, or abusive language and/or gestures
  13. Receiving a second caution in the same game (i.e., receiving a yellow card after already being shown a yellow card)
  14. Committing an act of violence (e.g., kicking, punching, elbowing, head-butting, etc.)

If a player commits any of these offences, they will be penalised with a free-kick, a yellow card, or a red card. If it’s a minor offence, the player is given a yellow card and sent off for 10 minutes. If it’s a more serious offence, the player is given a red card and sent off for the rest of the game. Besides being booted out of the game, players who are given red cards can also face further disciplinary action from their national or international governing body.

Fouls can also occur outside of the penalty area. These are called indirect free kicks and are awarded to the opposing team if a player commits any of the following offences:

  1. Playing in a dangerous manner
  2. Deliberately stopping, obstructing, or interfering with an opponent who is about to take a free-kick
  3. Stopping the goalkeeper from releasing the ball from his hands
  4. Handling the ball deliberately (except for goalkeepers within their own penalty area)
  5. Tampering with or destroying equipment or property used by match officials
  6. Refusing to leave the field of play when ordered to do so by a match official
  7. Entering or reentering the field of play without the referee’s permission

Indirect free kicks are taken from the spot where the offence occurred. If a player commits one or more of these offences, they will be penalised with consecutive indirect free kicks.

Flopping or Diving

Diving, or flopping, in soccer is a technique used by players to deceive the referee into thinking they have been fouled. By exaggerating the contact, players can hope to win a free-kick or penalty. Some players are known for their propensity to dive, and this has led to the term “flopping” being coined for the act.

The use of diving in soccer is considered highly controversial, with many purists arguing that it is a form of cheating. FIFA has attempted to outlaw diving, but it still remains a common tactic among players. Some teams are more associated with using diving than others–Brazil and Argentina are two such examples. This is likely due to the fact that these countries have a strong tradition of playing “Latin” or “South American” football, which is often associated with a more aggressive and theatrical style. When diving is caught by a referee, it can result in a yellow card for the player, and if the player does it again, they can be sent off the field.

Diving is not just used to win free-kicks and penalties, however. It can also be used to draw defenders away from other players or to create space for a shot. This makes it an important tactical weapon for teams trying to score goals. In the modern game, diving is becoming an increasingly important part of the arsenal of attacking players, despite its doubled-edged potential.

Final Thoughts

The mechanics of football, though elaborate, are simple. Football has existed for thousands of years, and the practice of penalties, fouls, and all of its rules bring structure to the game. It adds stakes as well as a mechanics of loss that make victories all the more worth it. We hope we’ve managed to enlighten you with these important concepts in international football. You’ll be able to explore more about soccer here in, in addition to international and local soccer news, soccer betting guides, and more.

Stefanie Steryn

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