Kick-off (association football)

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Kick-off at the final of the 2005 Confederations Cup

A kick-off is the method of starting and, in some cases, restarting play in a game of association football. The rules concerning the kick-off are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.[1]


A kick-off is used to start each half of play, and each period of extra time where applicable. The kick-off to start a game is awarded to the team that lost the pre-game coin toss (the team that won the coin-toss chooses which direction they wish to play). The kick-off begins when the referee blows the whistle. The kick-off to start the second half is taken by the other team. If extra time is played another coin-toss is used at the beginning of this period.

A kick-off is also used to restart play after a goal is scored, and is taken by the team that conceded the goal.


Luis Suárez and Andy Carroll preparing to kick-off.

The kick-off is taken from the centre spot. All players, except for the kicker, must be in their own half of the field of play, and all opposing players must remain at least 10 yards (9.16m) from the ball (a distance marked on the pitch by the centre circle), until the ball is in play.

The ball is initially stationary until it is put into play by being kicked. The player who has first kicked the ball may not touch it again until it has been touched by another player.

A stipulation that this kick must be towards the opponents' goal existed in the rules from 1883[2] until 2016.[3] This resulted in kick-offs typically involving two people (as pictured), with one tapping the ball forward and the other passing it back to the rest of the team. Now a team may kick the ball backwards explaining why the kicker may be in the other half of the field when kicking the ball.

A goal may be scored directly from a kick-off against the opponent.[4]


If a player moves from their required position as detailed above the kick is retaken. Failure to maintain position may constitute misconduct and be punished by a caution (yellow card).

It is an offence for the kicker to touch the ball a second time until it has been touched by another player; this is punishable by an indirect free kick to the defending team from where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, in which case it is punishable by a direct free kick.


  1. ^ "LAW 8 - THE START AND RESTART OF PLAY -". Retrieved 2014-02-04.  |first1= missing |last1= in Authors list (help)
  2. ^ Wikisource link to Laws of the Game (1883). The Football Association. Wikisource. 1883. 
  3. ^ Football: IFAB Confirm Series of Changes to Football Rules Ahead of Next Season Yahoo! Sport, 16 April 2016
  4. ^!/laws/the-start-and-restart-of-play/chapters/kick-off The IFAB Laws of the Game, Law 8
  • FIFA Laws of the Game (PDF)
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