A corner kick is the method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball goes out of play over the goal line, without a goal being scored and having last been touched by a member of the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field of play nearest to where it went out. Corners are considered to be a reasonable goal scoring opportunity for the attacking side, though not as much as a penalty kick or a direct free kick near the edge of the penalty area.
A corner kick is also awarded instead of an own goal if a team places the ball directly into its own goal from certain restarts, though this is rare.
- The assistant referee will signal that a corner should be awarded by first raising his flag, then using it to point at the corner area on their side of the pitch; however, this is not an indication of which side the kick should be taken from. The referee signals the corner by pointing, with an upward extension of the arm, to the corner area from which the kick is to be taken.
- The ball must be stationary and on the ground within the corner area formed by a quarter circle with a radius of one yard from the corner flagpost inside the field of play.
- All opposing players must be at least 10 yards from the corner area until the ball is in play. Marks may optionally be made on the goal line and touchline at a distance of 10 yards from the corner area to assist the referee in enforcing this provision.
- The ball is in play when it is kicked and clearly moves; it does not need to leave the corner area.
- The player taking the corner kick may not touch the ball a second time before it has touched another player.
- The attacking side may [|score directly from a corner kick], though this is uncommon. An own goal may not be scored directly: in the extremely unlikely event of the ball going directly into the attacking team's own goal from a corner kick, a corner kick would be awarded to the opposing side.
- An attacking player who directly receives the ball from a corner kick cannot be penalised for offside.
Opposing players must retire the required distance as stated above. Failure to do so promptly may constitute misconduct and be punished by a yellow card.
A player who excessively delays the restart of play is cautioned.
It is an offence for the kicker to touch the ball a second time before 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 a direct free kick is awarded to the defending team.
Tactics in taking and defending a cornerA common tactic is for several attackers to stand close in front of the goal, whereupon the corner taker crosses the ball for them to head into the goal.
The defending team may choose to form a wall of players in an attempt to force the ball to be played to an area which is more easily defended. However, this is not done often because defending players must remain at least 10 yards from the ball until it is in play.
The defending team also has the choice of whether to instruct a player to place him or herself beside one or both of the goalposts to provide protection to the goal in addition to the goalkeeper. The thinking behind placing a player beside a goalpost is that it means more of the goal area is protected and there is no loss in the ability to play an offside trap because offside does not apply for the first touch from a corner, and it compensates for a keeper's positioning and/or reach.
The defending team also has to decide how many players it needs to defend a corner. Teams may withdraw every player into a defensive area, however this diminishes the potential for a counter-attack if possession is regained, and as such, allows the attacking side to commit more players to attacking the goal. Withdrawing all players into a defensive area also means that if the ball is cleared from an initial cross, it is more than likely that the attacking team will regain possession of the ball and begin a new attack.
In situations where a set-piece, such as a corner, is awarded to a side trailing by a single goal at the closing stages of a match where conceding further is of minimal consequence a team may commit all their players, including their goalkeeper, to the attack.
Man versus zonal markingTwo popular strategies used for defending corners are called man marking and zonal marking. Man marking involves each defensive player at a corner given an attacking player to defend, with his or her objective being to stop the attacking player from heading the ball. The other tactic, zonal marking, involves allocating each player to an area of the box to defend. The objective for players in zonal marking is to get to the ball first if it enters their zone and head it away from danger before an attacking player can reach it.
Short cornerAn alternative strategy for the attacking team is to take a short corner. The ball is kicked to a player located within ten yards of the kicker, to create a better angle of approach toward the goal.
A rarely seen "trick" version of the short corner was attempted during a tense top-of-the-table Premier League clash between Manchester United and Chelsea in the 2008–09 season, causing much controversy and media discussion. The strategy involved United's Wayne Rooney, standing at the corner flag, pretending to change his mind about taking the corner and signalling to winger Ryan Giggs to do it instead. While leaving the arc, however, Rooney sneakily touched the ball, effectively putting it into play. With Chelsea's defence unprepared and expecting a conventional corner, Giggs took the ball, sprinted with it towards goal and crossed it for teammate Cristiano Ronaldo to score with a header. On this occasion, the goal was disallowed after the linesman, not having seen Rooney's taking of the corner, raised his flag, thus prompting the referee to stop play. The end result did not change much, though, as Manchester United scored again when the corner was retaken. A similar strategy was attempted by the Colombian national team at the 2014 World Cup against Greece, though once again the linesman penalised them for it.
Scoring a goal direct from a cornerIt is possible to score direct from a corner kick if sufficient swerve is given to the kick, and/or there is a strong enough wind blowing in the goalward direction. This type of goal is called an Olympic goal in Latin America. The name dates from 2 October 1924, a few months after IFAB had legalised such goals, when Argentina's Cesáreo Onzari scored against Uruguay, who had just won the 1924 Olympic title. The expression "Olympic goal" is uncommon in English-speaking countries, but has some use in the United States, for example by Max Bretos on Fox Soccer Channel, reflecting Latino influence on the sport's culture there. The goalkeeper is usually considered at fault if a goal is scored from a corner.
Although FIFA states the first goal from a corner was scored by Billy Alston in Scotland on 21 August 1924, in fact Alston's goal was from a header on 23 August 1923. The first in England was by Huddersfield Town's Billy Smith on 11 October 1924. Portuguese footballer João Morais scored a direct corner kick for Sporting Clube de Portugal in the 1964 European Cup Winners' Cup Final, eventually deciding the match and the destiny of the trophy. The world record holder for most direct corner kick goals is a Turkish player named Şükrü Gülesin, during his career he scored 32 goals directly from corners. In the 1950s this apparently appeared in the Guinness Book of Records as a world best. The first Olympic goal at the Olympic Games was Megan Rapinoe's for the United States against Canada in the 2012 women's semifinal. The first Olympic goal in the World Cup was scored for Colombia by Marco Coll, beating goalkeeper Lev Yashin in a 4–4 draw with the Soviet Union in the 1962 FIFA World Cup. At the 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup, Elise Kellond-Knight scored direct from a corner in the 83rd minute for Australia to bring the score to 1–1 against Norway. Norway went on to win the match on penalties.
In January 2012, Paul Owens took advantage of strong winds to score two goals direct from corners in the second half of Coleraine's 3–1 win over Glenavon in the Irish Premiership.
Corner instead of own goal from restartMost methods of restarting the game do not permit the scoring of an own goal directly from the restart; if the ball enters the goal directly, a corner is awarded instead. This is the case for the kick-off, goal kick, dropped-ball, throw-in, corner kick, and free kick. Such incidents are extremely rare, and in some cases require unusual or extraordinary circumstances in order to occur.
In a 1983–84 English Third Division match, Millwall were incorrectly credited with a goal against Wimbledon rather than a corner, when Wally Downes' free-kick backpass eluded an off-guard Dave Beasant. In a 2002–03 FA Premier League match, Birmingham City scored when Olof Mellberg's throw-in backpass was missed by Aston Villa goalkeeper Peter Enckelman, who reacted with dismay but later claimed he had made no contact and the goal should not have been awarded. His reaction may have persuaded referee David Elleray that Enckelman had grazed the ball; manager Graham Taylor suggested it showed he was unaware of the corner rule, a charge Enckelman denied.
BackgroundUnder the original 1863 rules of the Football Association, a ball kicked behind the goal-line was treated similarly to present-day rugby: if an attacking player touched the ball down first, the attacking team was awarded a free-kick at goal, while if a defending player touched the ball down first, the defending team was awarded a goal-kick. These rules were subsequently simplified, so that by 1867 a goal-kick was awarded in all circumstances, regardless of which team touched the ball.
During this period, clubs around Sheffield played their own distinctive code of football. The laws promulgated in early March 1867 by the newly-formed Sheffield Football Association contained a similar rule: a goal-kick was awarded whenever the ball went behind the goal-line, regardless of which team touched the ball.
One problem with these early rules was mentioned at the 1867 FA meeting:
Introduction in Sheffield rulesAn early law providing for a throw-in from the corner flag had already been used by the Sheffield Mechanics' Football Club for the 1865-66 season:
The corner-kick itself was suggested in a letter to the editor of the Sheffield Daily Telegraph published on 22 March 1867. The author, writing under the pseudonym "Rouge", argued that the then-current rule was "a great inducement to foul and dishonourable play, for it is manifestly to the advantage of a defending side to allow the ball to pass their goal line, they having the great advantage or a free kick-off". Instead, Rouge suggested, "when the ball is kicked behind the goal-line, the players run for touch, and the side winning the touch, kicks in from the nearest corner-flag". The corner-kick was introduced to Sheffield football the following year, as the result of a rule-change proposed by Norfolk F.C.. The law, adopted in October 1868, ran:
This Sheffield form of the corner-kick had two significant differences from today's version:
- The corner-kick could be awarded to either the attacking or the defending team, depending on which team kicked the ball behind the goal-line.
- When the ball was kicked directly over the crossbar, by either team, a goal-kick was awarded to the defending team.
Introduction in association footballIn 1872, the Sheffield Association successfully introduced the corner-kick into the Football Association's code. The new FA rule was identical to the Sheffield rule, as described above.
1873 changesThe next year, 1873, the FA rule was rewritten, under a proposal by Great Marlow FC, to essentially its current form:
- When the attacking team kicked the ball behind the goal-line, a goal-kick was awarded to the defending team
- When the defending team kicked the ball behind the goal-line, a corner-kick was awarded to the attacking team.
NameThe name "corner-kick" first appears in the laws of 1883. Before this, the phrase "corner-flag kick" was used.
Position of the kickIn 1874, the kick was allowed to be taken from within one yard of the corner-flag, rather than from the flag itself.
Position of other playersInitially, all other players were forbidden to be within six yards of the ball at a corner-kick; this was altered to all opposing players in 1888. In 1913 and 1914, the distance was increased from six yards to ten yards. In 2006, the minimum distance was specified as ten yards from the corner area, rather than from the ball.
Putting the ball into playIn 1905, it was specified that the ball "must make a complete circuit or travel the distance of its circumference" before being in play. In 1997, this requirement was eliminated: the ball became in play as soon as it was kicked and moved. In 2016, it was specified that the ball must "clearly" move.
Offside from a corner-kickWhen first introduced in 1872, the corner-kick was required to be taken from the corner-flag itself, which made it impossible to be offside directly from a corner. In 1874, the kick was allowed to be taken up to one yard from the corner-flag, thus opening up the possibility of a player being offside. At the International Football Conference of December 1882, it was agreed that a player should not be offside from a corner-kick; this change was incorporated into the Laws of the Game in 1883.
Scoring a goal from a corner-kickWhen it was first introduced in 1872, there was no restriction on [|scoring a goal directly from a corner-kick]. In 1875, this was forbidden, but it was subsequently legalised by the International Football Association Board meeting of 15 June 1924 with effect from for the following season. In 1997, the laws were amended to remove the possibility of scoring an own goal directly from a corner kick.
Touching the ball twice from a corner-kickWhen initially introduced in 1872, there was no restriction on dribbling from a corner-kick. In 1875, this was changed: it was forbidden for a player to touch the ball again after taking a corner-kick, before the ball had been touched by another player. In 1924, this restriction was accidentally removed, as an unintended consequence of the law-change allowing a goal to be scored directly from a corner. This possibility was exploited by Everton winger Sam Chedgzoy in a match against Arsenal on 15 November of that year. At the end of November, the International Football Association Board issued emergency instructions that dribbling was once again forbidden. The law was formally amended to prohibit dribbling at the next annual meeting of the Board, in 1925.
Punishment for infringementIn 1882, an indirect free-kick was awarded when the player taking the corner-kick touched the ball again before it had touched another player.
In 1905, an indirect free-kick was awarded for any infringement at a corner-kick.
These penalties were accidentally removed from the laws in 1924, as described above. In 1930, both penalties were reinstated. In 1973, the remedy for infringements other than the double touch was changed to a retake.
Pitch markingsThe one-yard quarter-circle pitch marking is first explicitly mentioned in the Laws of the Game in 1938, but appears in the diagram of the pitch as early as 1902. In 1995, the Laws of the Game were updated to explicitly allow optional marks on the goal line 11 yards from the corner flag, at right angles to the goal-line, to aid the referee in enforcing the minimum distance from the corner kick. In 2008, similar optional marks were permitted at right angles to the touch lines. .
Use as a tiebreakerIn the early 1920s, some charity matches began using corner-kicks as a tie-breaker in order to avoid replays. In response, the laws of the game were amended in 1923 to state explicitly that the goal was the only means of scoring, and that a match that ended with equal number of goals scored was drawn.
Despite this, the Dublin City Cup and Dublin and Belfast Inter-City Cup used corner count as a tiebreaker in knockout rounds. The use of corner-kicks in this manner was never approved by the International Football Association Board, and in 1970 IFAB endorsed the penalty shoot-out as its approved method of breaking ties.