The Ultimate Guide To The High Boot Rule In Football

Last updated on October 7th, 2022

As a football fan, there is a possibility that you have witnessed players being sanctioned for raising their boot high in a match. Such scenarios are not at all rare in football matches. 

You may have been scared after an opponent’s high boot caught your team’s player in a vulnerable area or even frustrated when a player from your team commits the offence.

In case, you were wondering about the high boot rule. Here’s what you need to know about the rule in football:

Is there a high boot rule in football?

The Laws of the Game discourage all forms of playing in a dangerous manner such as the high boot move which mostly happens when a player raises their leg high to claim the ball. 

Sorare 700x320 1

The high boot rule applies in a situation whereby a player makes a reckless or dangerous play for the ball by kicking above the waist level of an opposition player. 

High boot moves are exemplified by the motion where a player leads with the studs of his boot. Such moves make other players prone to hurtful contact. 

High boot moves usually cause serious injuries whenever another player is affected.

In many ways, it is considered a high-risk move and should be avoided by players since the consequences may prove dire for both sides. The rules of the game were cemented with additional guidelines to protect footballers against the risk of the high boot.

What are the penalties for committing a high boot?

According to the laws of the game, the offence is punishable by the referee who awards an indirect freekick to the opposition team.    

The indirect freekick means the set piece taker cannot score directly from it but must pass it to another player instead.

Further sanctions, in terms of a yellow or red card, may follow depending on the risk of the situation. The referee shoulders the responsibility of weighing the situation and may decide to give a card after a complete assessment, sometimes with the aid of VAR. 

If the high boot move is seen as violent conduct, the referee may send the player off immediately. However, if the move was judged to be on a milder scale, the referee may award just a yellow card or no booking at all. 

However, if a player receives his second yellow booking of the game, he is automatically sent off. A direct red card or accumulated yellows can also lead to suspension.

Thus, a high boot can severely affect both teams by causing injury to the opposition and reducing the football team by one man.  

In the 2010 World Cup final, Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong was given a yellow card for kicking Xabi Alonso in the chest while attempting to claim the ball.

Xabi was able to return to the pitch, and participated in Spain’s monumental victory over the Netherlands.

Xabi Alonso was on course to head the ball but instead got kicked in the chest by De Jong.

Would a bicycle kick result in a high boot foul?

The bicycle kick is an acrobatic move executed by attackers to finish goal scoring chances. Most times, the player is positioned in an angle where it is nearly impossible to head the ball accurately and thus opts for the acrobatic finish.

The popular move involves the player bending backwards towards the ground and kicking backwards over their body. It has been popularised since the early days of the sport.

However, it is still widely considered as a high risk move since other players may get hurt in the process. The motion of the bicycle kick involves one or both legs in the air which could severely injure any player in the way.

However the Laws of the Game do not consider a bicycle kick to be a dangerous high boot move since it is usually an attempt to directly score a goal. Thus, no player can be penalised for attempting a bicycle kick even though players may get hurt.

Cristiano Ronaldo’s iconic goal against Juventus in 2018 was not considered a high boot foul even though an opposition player almost got hurt. 

Other acrobatic moves like the Scorpion kick and scissors kick are also not considered high boot moves. Therefore, they are not penalised by the laws of the game.

You can find out how a bicycle kick differs from a scissors kick here.


The high boot rule exists to protect players against the dire consequences of such risky moves.

Referees penalise the move through indirect free kicks and may also sanction the defaulting player with a red/yellow card depending on the context. 

However, some acrobatic moves like the bicycle kick, scissors kick and scorpion kick are not considered to be of the same calibre. Therefore, a player that attempts such a move will go unpenalised in accordance with football rules.

If you’re looking to buy the latest football merchandise from your favourite club, you can check out the latest deals at Kitbag.

You can find out why we need the offside rule here.

Subscribe to Telegram and Twitter to get the latest updates!

undraw junior soccer 6sop

Are you passionate about football and want to earn some side income?