Bend It Like Megan Rapinoe

About 10-15 percent of goals in football are scored following a corner kick. In a very rare occasion, the goal is scored directly from the corner. Megan Rapinoe, a midfielder in the US Women’s National Football Team, did just that in their semifinal game with Canada during the Olympics. With the team down at 1-0, Rapinoe was getting ready to take a corner kick. On the 54th minute, she kicked the ball, which started curving toward the goal and causing confusion among the Canadians. The ball just squeezed past the left post and flew into the net, hitting a few defenders already inside the goal.

This rare occurence in football is called a “Gol Olimpico” (Olympic Goal) in Latin America. This name was first used on the 2nd of October in 1924, after Cesáreo Onzari of Argentina scored a corner kick goal against Uruguay (1924 Olympic Champions). It is very hard to score directly from a corner kick. Generally, there are three distinct ways to score an Olimpico:

  • a certain amount of spin is applied to the kick
  • the ball is kicked from the part of the corner arc farthest from the goal
  • a strong wind in the goalward direction changes the trajectory of the ball
  • or any combination of the three factors

Scoring straight off a corner kick has been “legal” in football ever since an IFAB meeting on June 15th, 1924. On August 21st, 1924, Billy Aston of Scotland became the first to score an Olimpico. Currently, Dejan Petković holds the record for most Olympic Goals (8). Only one goal has ever been scored from a corner in the FIFA World Cup. The person who did it was Columbian Marcos Coll, who managed to trick goalkeeper Lev Yashin (Soviet Union) and end the game in a 4-4 draw. Only a handful of other players have ever made an Olimpico, such as Charlie Tully, Ronaldinho, George Best, and of course, David Beckham. In 2002, a movie about football entitled Bend It Like Beckham was created, which got its name from Beckham’s abilty to score by curving in a corner or a free kick past a wall of defenders.