A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the ball goes out of the field of play by crossing, either on the ground or in the air, the goal line (but not the portion between the posts and under the crossbar which would constitute a goal) when the last person to touch the ball was from the attacking team. If the last person to touch the ball was a member of the defending side, a corner kick is instead awarded to the attackers.
A goal kick is awarded to the defending team when the ball is struck directly into the goal by the attacking team from an indirect free kick.
- The ball is initially placed anywhere within the defending goal area. All opposing players must be outside the penalty area until the ball is in play. The ball must be kicked (a goalkeeper may not pick up the ball).
- The ball becomes in play as soon as it leaves the penalty area – if any player makes contact with the ball before it becomes in play the kick is retaken.
- A goal may be scored directly from a goal kick as a goal kick is a direct free kick, but only against the opposing team. An own goal cannot be scored from a goal kick; in the highly unlikely circumstance that the ball happened to land directly into the kicker's own goal a corner kick would be awarded to the opposing team.
- A player may not be penalised for being in an offside position directly from a goal kick.
- Goal kicks are most often taken by goalkeepers, however this is not compulsory under the laws of the game.
Opposing players must retire the required distance as stated above. Failure to do so promptly so may constitute misconduct and be punished by a caution (yellow card). Furthermore, if an opposing player enters the penalty area before the ball is in play, the goal kick may be retaken subject to Law 5.
If any player touches the ball after it is kicked, but before it is in play (i.e. before the whole of the ball has left the penalty area), the goal kick is retaken. It is an infringement for the kicker to touch the ball a second time once the ball is in play (i.e. when it has left the penalty area), before it has been touched by another player – this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the opposing team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, which is punished by a direct free kick for the opposing team. Most goal kicks usually land past the midfield line.
- "FIFA.com – The Laws of the Game – Law 16: The Goal-Kick". FIFA. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "FIFA.com – The Laws of the Game – Law 11: Offside". FIFA. Retrieved 9 April 2012.
- "Interpretation of the Laws of the Game and Guidelines for Referees – Law 16 – The Goal Kick". FIFA. Retrieved 11 April 2012.