There are many iconic goals that have been scored through quick corners and quick free kicks.
However, are these quickly taken set pieces even allowed?
Here’s what you need to know about the rules on taking set-pieces and waiting for the whistle.
Do you have to wait for the whistle for a corner kick?
You do not need to wait for the whistle before taking a corner kick, and they are able to be taken quickly in accordance to Law 17 of the Laws of the Game.
The rules for corner kicks are in Law 17 of the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) rule book. It contains these 5 key points:
None of these points mentions that you need to wait for the whistle, which is why a number of quick-witted footballers have taken quick corners to catch their opponents off-guard.
Classic example (Trent Alexander-Arnold)
One of the most iconic examples of a quick corner kick was in the Champions League semi-final between Liverpool and Barcelona.
Alexander-Arnold is one of the greatest right-backs (RB), and you can find out how this position differs from a right win-back (RWB).
The ball went out for a corner and Xherdan Shaqiri was walking over to take it. Trent Alexander Arnold was walking away to take his position. But he noticed something: all of Barcelona’s defenders were looking away, and Divock Origi was standing on his own.
In a short flash of genius, he quickly took the corner and Origi scored one of the easiest goals he will ever score.
However, you may want to note that you won’t be able to dribble directly from a corner kick!
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Do you have to wait for the whistle for a free kick?
You do not need to wait for the whistle to be blown before you can take a free kick. IFAB a quick free-kick as ‘a free kick taken (with the referee’s permission) very quickly after play was stopped‘. If the referee allows the player to take the free kick quickly, the player does not need to wait for the whistle to be blown.
However, you are required to receive permission from the referee, before you can take such a free kick!
Under the procedures for taking a free kick by IFAB, it was not mentioned that the player had to wait for the whistle before he could take the free kick.
One of the differences between quick free kicks and corners is that a corner can only be taken if the opposing players are 10 yards away from the ball.
Meanwhile, for free kicks, play will continue even if the player was less than 10 yards from the ball and the player intercepts it.
Nevertheless, opposing players could be penalised if they deliberately try to prevent a quick free-kick.
Law 13 states ‘an opponent who deliberately prevents a free kick being taken quickly must be cautioned for delaying the restart of play’.
A recent example was Raúl Jiménez for Wolves against Man City in 2021, who .
He receive 2 yellow cards in a matter of seconds, and was subsequently given a red card!
Classic example (Thierry Henry)
Back in 2004, there was a highly intense match between Arsenal and Chelsea. Peter Cech was standing by his left goal post and organising the wall. Thierry Henry saw this, took a kick shot and chipped it into the other corner.
The goal caused huge controversy. When Chelsea’s former manager Jose Mourinho was asked about how he felt about the decision, he said “More than unhappy. Unhappy is a nice word and I cannot say what I have in my heart and my soul.”
Their main contention was that Eidur Gudjohnsen was not 10 yards away from the ball, so the free-kick could not be taken. However, this does not apply to a quick free-kick. The referee, Graham Poll, defended the decision, by saying “With a free-kick around the penalty area we always ask the players whether they want it quick or slow.”
Speaking about the decision, Thierry Henry said “He [The refereel] said: ‘Do you want to wait for the whistle and [the wall to go] 10 yards?’ I said: ‘No.’ So he said: ‘You can have a go,’ so I was just waiting for Gudjohnsen to move out of the way. The referee allowed me to do it.”
Classic example (Ryan Giggs)
In the 2007 Champions League match between Manchester United and Lille, Ryan Giggs took a quick free kick while the Lille players were not ready.
Manchester United is a team from the Premier League and Lille is a team from Ligue 1. You can view how these competitions differ here.
During an interview, Giggs mentioned that he asked the referee if he could take a quick free kick. When the referee asked if Giggs wanted the whistle, Giggs replied that he wanted to take it quickly.
Since the referee was aware that Giggs wanted to take a quick free kick, it was not against the Laws of the Game, and the goal was allowed!
Do you have to wait for the whistle for a penalty kick?
For penalties, you are required to wait for the whistle before you can take the shot. The rules for penalty kicks in Law 14, mentions: ‘After the players have taken positions in accordance with this Law, the referee signals for the penalty kick to be taken.’
As such, the referee needs to give the ‘go ahead’ for the penalty to be taken, usually by blowing their whistle.
After taking a penalty, you may want to know that you can’t actually score from the rebound if the ball hits the post!
You are not required to wait for the whistle before taking a corner kick or free kick. However, you will need to receive the referee’s permission before you can take a quick free kick.
For penalties, it is non-negotiable and you can only wait for the whistle before taking the kick!
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