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, without a goal being scored, 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 goes directly into the goal, having last been touched by the attacking team, from a situation in which the laws do not permit an attacking goal to be scored directly. These are:
Goal kicks are most often taken by goalkeepers, but this is not compulsory under the laws of the game.
If the kick is taken with a moving ball, or from the wrong place, the goal kick is retaken.
Opponents must attempt to leave the penalty area before the goal kick is taken. However, if a "quick" goal kick is taken while an opponent is attempting to leave the penalty area, that opponent may touch or challenge for the ball once it is in play.
If an opposing player deliberately remains inside the penalty area, or enters the penalty area before the goal kick is taken, the goal kick is retaken. If this happens a number of times, the opposing player is booked for persistent infringement of the Laws of the Game.
A player who excessively delays the restart of play is cautioned.
If the kicker touches the ball a second time before it has been touched by another player, an indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team from the place where the offence occurred, unless the second touch was also a more serious handling offence, which is punished by a direct free kick (or a penalty kick if within the penalty area and the kicker was not the goalkeeper) for the opposing team.
Analogues of the goal kick are found in early codes of football. The first published set of rules for any code of football, that of Rugby School (1845), featured a "kick out" from ten yards or twenty-five yards after a team touched the ball down in its own goal area. This was the ancestor of the 22-metre drop out in modern rugby union. A similar 25-yard "kick out" is found in the first version of the Sheffield rules (1858).  The Cambridge rules of 1856 provided for a kick-out from "not more than ten paces", while the Melbourne Football Club rules of 1859 stipulated a 20-yard "kick off". Published laws of the Eton field game (1857) and Harrow football (1858), meanwhile, provided for a defensive kick-off from the goal-line itself whenever the ball went behind the goal without the attacking team scoring.
The original FA rules of 1863 defined the "free kick from the goal line", the ancestor of the goal-kick, thus:
In case the ball goes behind the goal line, if a player on the side to whom the goal belongs first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick from the goal line at the point opposite the place where the ball shall be touched. If a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, one of his side shall be entitled to a free kick (but at the goal only) from a point 15 yards from the goal line opposite the place where the ball is touched. The opposing side shall stand behind their goal line until he has had his kick.
There are several differences between this "free kick from the goal line" and the modern goal-kick:
It was not possible for a player to be offside from such a kick, a feature of the laws that has remained constant to the present day.
In 1866, the law was changed to award a goal-kick to the defending team regardless of which team touched the ball. (If the attacking team touched the ball down, it was awarded a "touch down", which served as a tie-breaker if the match ended level on goals; however the defending team was still awarded a goal-kick.) In 1867, following an amendment proposed by Wanderers FC, the law was simplified; both the requirement for a touch-down, and the short-lived "touch-down" tiebreaker, were completely removed from the laws. The goal-kick could now be taken from any point "within six yards from the limit of [the] goal", and the opponents were forbidden from approaching within six yards of the ball.
One problem with these early rules was mentioned at the 1867 FA meeting:
Where one side was very much weaker than the other, a very great deal of time was wasted by players intentionally letting the ball go behind their own goal-line (in some instances kicking it there themselves) particularly in playing against time.
This state of affairs lasted until 1872, when the corner-kick law was introduced from Sheffield rules football. Under the 1872 law, a goal-kick could be awarded only when the ball was kicked directly over the goal (by either side). When the ball crossed the goal-line to the side of the goal, a corner-kick was awarded to either the attacking or defensive side, depending on which team last touched the ball before it went out of play.
This law was rewritten the next year (1873) on the basis of a proposal by Great Marlow FC: a goal kick was awarded when the ball was kicked out of play over the goal-line by the attacking side. The kick had to be taken from within six yards of the nearest goal post. The 1873 law ran:
When the ball is kicked behind the goal-line by one of the opposite side, it shall be kicked off by any one of the players behind whose goal line it went, within six yards of the nearest goal post; but if kicked behind by any one of the side whose goal line it is, a player of the opposite side shall kick it from the nearest corner flag-post. In either case no other player shall be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked off.
The phrase "goal kick" is recorded in general usage as early as 1867, but does not appear in the laws of the game until 1890. Before this, phrases such as "kick it off from the goal line" were used.
The goal kick of 1873 was taken from "within 6 yards of the goal post nearest the point where the ball went out of play". In 1891, pitch markings were added to define the six-yard radius from each goal-post. In 1902, the term "goal area" was introduced for the place from which the goal kick was taken; it assumed its modern dimensions as a rectangle extending six yards from each goal post. The goal-kick had to be taken from the half of the goal area nearest to the spot where the ball went out of play. This requirement was removed in 1992, when it was permitted to take the goal-kick from any point within the goal-area. This change was made in order to "eliminate one of the common timewasting tactics".
In 1913 and 1914, the distance opponents were required to retreat was increased from six yards to ten yards. In 1948, opponents were required to be completely outside the penalty area when the goal-kick was taken.
In 1905, it was specified that the ball "must make a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference" before being in play. In 1936, after a proposal by the Scottish Football Association, a new restriction was added: it was specified that the goal-kick must leave the penalty area before becoming in play; if the ball does not leave the penalty area, the kick has to be retaken. The goalkeeper was also explicitly forbidden from "receiv[ing] the ball into his hands from a goal-kick in order that he may thereafter kick it into play". In 2019, the requirement that the ball had to leave the penalty area was removed: the ball became in-play as soon as it was kicked and clearly moved.
In 1890, it was forbidden to score a goal directly from a goal-kick. In 1997, the laws were amended to allow a goal to be scored directly from a goal-kick, but only against the opposing team.
In 1890, the player taking the goal kick was forbidden from touching the ball a second time before it had touched another player.
In 1890, an indirect free-kick was awarded to the opposition when the player taking the goal kick touched the ball twice. In 1939, it was clarified that this penalty did not apply if the ball was touched twice before it had entered play by leaving the penalty area—in that case the kick was to be retaken instead.
In 1905, encroachment by the opposition at a goal-kick was also punished with an indirect free-kick. This penalty was removed in 1937. In 1997, the laws explicitly stated that, in the case of encroachment by the opposition, the kick should be retaken.
This table describes all kicks awarded to the defending team after the ball goes out of play over the goal line, including the defensive corner kick from the 1872 laws.
used in laws
|Awarded when||Location||Minimum distance required (opponents)||Ball must leave penalty area||Kicker may play ball again before it is touched by another player||Attacking goal may be scored||Own goal may be scored||Player may be offside|
|1863||Free kick from the goal line||Ball first touched by a member of the defending team after going out of play||From the goal-line, in line with the place where the ball was touched down||None||N/A||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|1866||"Kick it off from the goal line"||In all cases|
|1867||Kick-off||Within 6 yards of "the limit of the goal"||6 yards|
"Kick (it) from the nearest corner flag"
|Ball goes out of play directly above the goal
Ball last touched by a member of the attacking team before going out of play
|Within 6 yards of "the limit of the goal" (if ball went directly above the goal)
From the corner-flag nearest the point where the ball went out of play (otherwise)
|1873||"Kick(ed) off"||Ball last touched by an member of the attacking team before going out of play||Within 6 yards of the goal post nearest the point where the ball went out of play|
|1902||The half of the goal area nearest the point where the ball went out of play||No|
|1948||Must be outside the penalty area|
|1992||Anywhere within the goal area|
KICK OUT must not be from more than ten yards out of goal if a place-kick, not more than twenty-five yards, if a punt, drop, or knock on.– via
Kick out must not be from more than 25 yards out of goal.– via
When the ball is behind it shall be brought forward at the place where it left the ground, not more than ten paces, and kicked off.– via
In case the Ball is kicked behind Goal, any one of the side behind whose Goal it is kicked may bring it 20 yards in front of any portion of the space between the 'Kick Off' posts, and shall kick it as nearly as possible in line with the opposite Goal.– via
If a player kicks the ball behind, or on the line of the goalsticks of the opposite party, without being bullied, or should the ball be first touched by one of the defending party, no rouge is obtained, and the ball must be placed on a line with the goalsticks, and "kicked off" by one of that party.– via
When the Ball goes behind the Line of either of the Bases, it must be kicked straight in (as by Rule 9), and then must not be touched by any one belonging to the Side, behind whose Base it was kicked, until it has been touched by one of the opposite Side.– via
In case the ball goes behind the goal line, a player on the side to whom the goal belongs shall kick it off from the goal line, at the point opposite the place where the ball is touched by a player with any part of his body; but if a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, after it has gone behind the goal line of his adversary, one "touch down" shall be scored by his side, and in the event of no goals being got on either side, the side obtaining the greater number of "touches down" shall be the winners of the match.– via
When the ball is kicked behind the goal line, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went, within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick off in whatever way they please without any obstruction, the opposite side not being able to approach within six yards of the ball.– via
When the ball is kicked over the bar of the goal, it must be kicked off by the side behind whose goal it went, within six yards from the limit of their goal. The side who thus kick the ball are entitled to a fair kick off in whatever way they please; the opposite side not being allowed to approach within six yards of the ball. When the ball is kicked behind the goal line, a player of the opposite side to that which kicked it out shall kick it from the nearest corner flag. No player to be allowed within six yards of the ball until kicked.– via
every time the ball passes the line a goal kick might be claimed
In no case, save the penalty-kick, shall a goal be scored from any free kick, nor shall the ball be again played by the kicker until it has been played by another player. The kick-off, the corner-flag and goal-kicks shall be free kicks within the meaning of this rule.– via
a line defining six yards from the goal posts and twelve yards from the goal lines shall also be marked out.– via
Lines shall be marked six yards from each goal-post at right angles to the goal-lines for a distance of six yards, and these shall be connected with each other by a line parallel to the goal-lines; the space within these lines shall be the goal area.– via
When a free kick has been awarded, the kicker's opponents shall not approach within 6 yards of the ball unless they are standing on their own goal-line. The ball must at least be rolled over before it shall be considered played; i.e., it must make a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference. The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has been played by another player. The kick-off (except as provided by Law 2), corner-kick, and goal-kick, shall be free kicks within the meaning of this Law. [emphasis added]– via
[Law 10]: When a free kick has been awarded, the kicker's opponents shall not approach within 6 yards of the ball unless they are standing on their own goal-line. The ball must at least be rolled over before it shall be considered played; i.e., it must make a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference. The kicker shall not play the ball a second time until it has been played by another player. The kick-off (except as provided by Law 2), corner-kick, and goal-kick, shall be free kicks within the meaning of this Law.– via
[Law 17]: In the event of any infringement of Laws 5, 6, 8, 10, or 16, a free kick shall be awarded to the opposite side, [emphasis added]
Delete the words 'and goal-kick'