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EducationPlay of the Week

Play of the Week 26: Law 17 – Corner Kick

By PRO Training & Development Manager Paul Rejer

Play of the Week 26 examines the final law in FIFA’s Laws of the Game – Law 17, Corner Kick – and in particular the criteria for taking a corner kick that conforms with the Laws of the Game.

The incident in question is from Chicago Fire versus New York Red Bulls in the 49th minute.


In this play we see Red Bulls’ Lloyd Sam play the ball three times before his team-mate Sacha Kljestan runs with it and plays it to Ronald Zubar, who slots home for their second goal. This is obviously a planned move that the players have worked at in training, where the first player actually plays the ball without the opposition being aware. This enables the second player to run with the ball, thus taking the opposition by surprise.

What does Law 17 say regarding the procedure for taking a corner kick? The relevant part of the Law is underlined below.


– The ball must be placed inside the corner arc nearest to the point where the ball crossed the goal line

– The corner flagpost must not be moved

– Opponents must remain at least 9.15 m (10 yds) from the corner arc until the ball is in play

– The ball must be kicked by a player of the attacking team

– The ball is in play when it is kicked and moves

– The kicker must not play the ball again until it has touched another player

Infringements and sanctions

If, after the ball is in play, the kicker touches the ball again (except with his hands) before it has been touched by another player:

– An indirect free kick is awarded to the opposing team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred

For this planned move to work within the Laws of the Game the first player must only play the ball once. However, in this example, the first player (Lloyd Sam) touching the ball three times made this play illegal. This is where match officials have to be alert and aware at all times. The match officials must have had prior knowledge of the trick as they allowed Kljestan to run with the ball.

AR Anthony Vasoli appeared to be looking directly at the ball at the time it was played by Sam but it did not register with him that there was anything illegal. Remember, the ball is in play when it is kicked and moves. The ball moved three times.

This planned move is not new; it has been attempted before with different outcomes. I have seen referees allow it to take place as there is nothing in Law to prevent it. I have seen referees refuse to allow it to take place and order a retake, provided it was taken “legally”.

I can understand referees who refuse to allow this tactic as it involves the match officials to be compliant with the move. It appeared that Kljestan checks with Vasoli that the ball is in play and he receives confirmation. So there is collaboration with the attacking players to conspire against the defending team. This simply cannot be part of the match officials’ role.

That being said is my opinion; there is nothing illegal about this move if the first player only plays the ball once to comply with Law. There is a moral argument, however.

This particular play was illegal, though, and ARs must be aware of such a move and check that all restarts under their control (I have covered throw-ins before) are taken in accordance with the Laws of the Game as mentioned above.

As Sam played the ball a second time before it had been touched or played by another player, an indirect free kick should have been awarded to the opposing team, to be taken from the place where the infringement occurred.

Play of the Week 26 extra: Read an analysis of the corner kick in SJ v PHI

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