Corner Kick vs Goal Kick – What’s The Difference?

There are over fifty different kicks in football, with the corner and goal kick being the most common and regularly played ones. 

The corner kick and goal kick are both results of the ball leaving the field at the goal line. They are both used to restart a football match, but that is where the similarities end.

So, what are the differences between a corner kick and a goal kick? Well, in this article, we will explain it all. So read on and find out!

The Difference Between a Corner Kick and a Goal Kick in Football

The difference between a corner and a goal kick follows the guidelines and definitions published by the International Football Association Board.

The referee awards a corner kick if the ball makes the last contact with a member of the opposing defence before crossing the by-line that runs across the goal line.

For goal kicks, the referee awards one if an attacking player makes the final touch on the ball before it crosses the end line at the goal post.

The primary difference between the two kicks is how the referee awards them. They give corners if the defending team makes the last contact, while goal kicks if the attacking player makes the last contact.

How Do They Happen?

A referee awards a corner kick when the ball crosses the by-line running across the goal line, and the last touch on it was by the defending team. The ball must cross the line without a goal being scored, and the final touch must be by a player on the defending side.

Meanwhile, the referee would award a corner kick by watching the flag position and direction of the assistant referee. The assistant referee signals to the referee that it is a corner by pointing to the corner flag at a downward 45-degree angle.

The referee awards a goal kick when the football crosses the goal line outside the goalpost, and the last touch on it was by the attacking team. The ball must completely cross the line, and the final touch must be from the attacker.

The assistant referee points his flag straight at the goal and signals the referee to award the goal kick.

Location of Kick

The attacking team takes corner kicks from the nearest corner flag to where the ball crosses the goal line. 

For goal kicks, the goalkeeper or one of his teammates takes it from anywhere in the six-yard/penalty box of the defending team goal.

Important Boundaries When Taking a Corner or Goal Kick

Both team players must follow important boundary rules. 

Here are the boundary rules to be followed when taking a corner kick:

  • The attacking team must take the corner kick at the closet corner flag to where the ball crossed the line.
  • The kicker must place the ball within the corner arc or on the line of the corner arc at the corner flag.
  • The defending team players must be at least 10 yards or 9.15 meters away in all directions from the corner the kick is happening.

For goal kicks:

  • The kicker must be in the 6-yard or penalty box area when he is taking the goal kick.
  • The kicker must not place the ball outside the penalty area, or the goal kick will have to be retaken
  • All opposition players must be outside the penalty area until the player kicks the ball.

Can You Score From a Corner or Goal Kick?

Scoring from a corner or goal kick is possible, as they regard both kicks as direct kicks. Direct kicks in soccer are those kicks that allow the players to take a clear shot at the goal.

Since both kicks are direct, attacking players can directly score a goal from a corner or a goal kick. A goal scored directly from a corner is called a Gol Olympico or an Olympic Goal. 

An example of a Göl Olympico is the goal scored by Thierry Henry for the New York Red Bulls vs. Columbus in the 2012 MLS season: 

You can find out more about which set pieces you can directly score from here.

Who Can Take a Corner or Goal Kick?

In football, after the referee awards the corner to the attacking team, any member can take it. 

Corner kicks are usually good goal-scoring opportunities, so they designate players with good crossing ability to take them. A player with good spin, power, and technique on the attacking team is usually the corner kick taker.

Goal kicks are usually the responsibility of goalkeepers, but any member of the defending team can take them.

Rules When Taking a Corner or Goal Kick 

Each team must adhere to certain rules when taking a corner or a goal kick. If they breach them, it will either lead to the kick being retaken, or the referee awarding an indirect kick to the opposing team.

 For corner kicks:

  • The kicker must ensure the ball is stationary before kicking it. 
  • The referee considers the corner kick taken when the player moves the ball. It does not necessarily need to leave the corner area or move far.
  • The kicker must not move the corner flag when taking a corner kick.
  • After the corner kick taker touches the ball, another player must touch it before the first player can touch it again.
  • In a weird scenario where the attacking team somehow kicks the corner into his net without touching another player, they will not award a goal. The referee will instead award a corner to the defending team.

For Goal Kicks:

  • When taking a goal kick, the ball must always be stationary.
  • They regarded the goal kick taken when the ball moves no matter the distance.
  • The player who takes the goal kick cannot touch the ball until another player does. The referee will award an indirect free kick to the other team if the player multi-touch the ball.
  • If an opposition player is in the penalty box during the kick and does not interfere with the kick, then the play is allowed to continue. If the attacking player touches the ball, the referee calls a foul, and the goal kick is retaken.

Some Top Examples

Some examples of top corner kick goals are shown in the clip below:

Meanwhile, here is a clip of Oliver Kahn and some other top keepers taking several goal kicks using different techniques:

Final Verdict

For our final verdict, they are both active kicks that are used to restart games and are awarded based on who touched it last before it crossed the line.

Here is a table highlighting the difference:

Corner KickGoal Kick
Last TouchThey are given if the ball touches the last defending team player.They are awarded if the ball touches the attacking player’s last
LocationThey are taken from the nearest corner flag to where the ball crossed the lineThey are taken anywhere inside the six-yard box.
TakerUsually taken by an outfield player with good crossing skillUsually taken by the goalkeeper
Location of opposing playersOpposition players are usually in the box of the defending team.Opposition players are usually not allowed in the box of the defending team
Direction of the referee’s flagThe referee’s flag is usually pointed at the corner flag when it is a corner kickThe referee’s flag is pointed straight at the goal spot when it is a goal kick.
Ball placementsThe ball must be placed in the corner
arc or on the painted arc. 
The ball can be placed anywhere in the six-yard box

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