Assist (football)

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In association football, an assist is a contribution by a player which helps to score a goal. Statistics for assists made by players may be kept officially by the organisers of a competition, or unofficially by, for example, journalists or organisers of fantasy football competitions. Recording assists is not part of the official Laws of the Game and the criteria for an assist to be awarded may vary. Record of assists was virtually not kept at all until the end of the 20th century, although reports of matches commonly described a player as having "made" one or more goals. Since the 1990s, some leagues have kept official record of assists and based awards on them.

Association football Team field sport

Association football, more commonly known as football or soccer, is a team sport played with a spherical ball between two teams of eleven players. It is played by 250 million players in over 200 countries and dependencies, making it the world's most popular sport. The game is played on a rectangular field called a pitch with a goal at each end. The object of the game is to score by moving the ball beyond the goal line into the opposing goal.

Goal (sport) method of scoring in many sports

In sports, a goal is a physical structure or area where an attacking team must send the ball or puck in order to score points. In several sports, a goal is the sole method of scoring, and thus the final score is expressed in the total number of goals scored by each team. In other sports, a goal may be one of several scoring methods, and thus may be worth a different set number of points than the others.

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. The laws mention the number of players a team should have, the game length, the size of the field and ball, the type and nature of fouls that referees may penalise, the frequently misinterpreted offside law, and many other laws that define the sport. During a match, it is the task of the referee to interpret and enforce the Laws of the Game.


Lionel Messi has made the most assists in football history. An all-time record 162 in Spanish La Liga and also an all-time record 13 in Conmebol's Copa America. He has delivered a total of 278 official assists for both FC Barcelona and Argentina National Team. FRA-ARG (22).jpg
Lionel Messi has made the most assists in football history. An all-time record 162 in Spanish La Liga and also an all-time record 13 in Conmebol's Copa America. He has delivered a total of 278 official assists for both FC Barcelona and Argentina National Team.


Most commonly, an assist is credited to a player for passing or crossing the ball to the scorer. It may also be awarded to a player whose shot rebounds (off a defender, goalkeeper or goalpost) to a teammate who scores. Some systems may credit an assist to a player who wins a penalty kick or a free kick for another player to convert, [1] [2] or to an attacking player for contributing to an own goal. [3] A goal may be unassisted, or have one assist; some systems allow for two assists. [1] [4]

Passing (association football) formation

Passing the ball is a key part of association football. The purpose of passing is to keep possession of the ball by maneuvering it on the ground between different players with the objective of advancing it up the playing field.

Cross (football) term in football

In association football, a cross is a medium- to-long-range pass from a wide area of the field towards the centre of the field near the opponent's goal. Specifically, the intention of a cross is to directly bring the ball into the box from an angle that allows the attacking forwards to more easily aim for goal with their head or feet. Crosses are generally airborne (floated) to clear nearby defenders, but can also be hit with force along the ground (drilled). It is a quick and effective move.

Penalty kick (association football) type of direct free kick in association football

A penalty kick is a method of restarting play in association football, in which a player is allowed to take a single shot on the goal while it is defended only by the opposing team's goalkeeper. It is awarded when a foul punishable by a direct free kick is committed by a player in their own penalty area. The shot is taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards (11 m) from the goal line and centred between the touch lines.


FIFA's Technical Study Group is responsible for awarding assist points at the FIFA World Cup. [5] In the Technical Study Group's report on the 1986 World Cup, the authors calculated for the first time unofficial statistics for assists, developing the following criteria: [1]

FIFA World Cup Association football competition for mens national teams

The FIFA World Cup, often simply called the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), the sport's global governing body. The championship has been awarded every four years since the inaugural tournament in 1930, except in 1942 and 1946 when it was not held because of the Second World War. The current champion is France, which won its second title at the 2018 tournament in Russia.

1986 FIFA World Cup 1986 edition of the FIFA World Cup

The 1986 FIFA World Cup, the 13th FIFA World Cup, was held in Mexico from 31 May to 29 June 1986. The tournament was the second to feature a 24-team format. With European nations not allowed to host after the previous World Cup in Spain, Colombia had been originally chosen to host the competition by FIFA but, largely due to economic reasons, was not able to do so and officially resigned in 1982. Mexico was selected as the new host in May 1983, thus becoming the first country to host the World Cup more than once. This was the third FIFA World Cup tournament in succession that was hosted by a Spanish-speaking country, after Argentina 1978, and Spain 1982.

  1. An assist was awarded to the player who had given the last pass to the goalscorer.
  2. In addition, the last but two holder of the ball could get an assist provided that his action had decisive importance for the goal.
  3. After goals from rebounds those players were awarded an assist who had shot on target.
  4. After goals scored on penalty or by a directly converted free-kick the fouled player received a point.
  5. In case that the goalscorer had laid on the goal for himself (dribble, solo run), no assists were awarded.
  6. No assists were awarded, either, if the goalscorer took advantage of a missed pass by an opponent.

The 1990 World Cup technical report adopted similar criteria, but changed the free-kick/penalty criterion: [2]

1990 FIFA World Cup 1990 edition of the FIFA World Cup

The 1990 FIFA World Cup was the 14th FIFA World Cup, the quadrennial international football tournament. It was held from 8 June to 8 July 1990 in Italy, the second country to host the event twice. Teams representing 116 national football associations entered and qualification began in April 1988. 22 teams qualified from this process, along with host nation Italy and defending champions Argentina.

Planet World Cup has calculated some retrospective data on assists back to the 1966 World Cup, [6] though the 1986 data differs from that of FIFA. [1] [7]

1966 FIFA World Cup 1966 edition of the FIFA World Cup

The 1966 FIFA World Cup was an international association football tournament played in England between 11 and 30 July 1966. It was the eighth FIFA World Cup, the first having been played in 1930. England defeated West Germany 4–2 in the final to win their first World Cup; the match had finished at 2–2 after 90 minutes and went to extra time, when Geoff Hurst scored two goals to complete his hat-trick, the first to be scored in a World Cup final, with spectators storming the pitch during the fourth goal. England were the fifth nation to win the event, and the third host nation to win after Uruguay in 1930 and Italy in 1934. Brazil were the defending champions, but they failed to progress from the group stage.

FIFA started officially keeping track of assists in World Cup tournaments at the 1994 edition. [8] This was popularly ascribed to the popularity of detailed sports statistics among American fans. [8] 1994 was also the first World Cup in which assists were used as a tie-breaker in determining the Golden Shoe award for top scorer. [8] [9] In the event, both Hristo Stoichkov and Oleg Salenko tied with 19 points, from 6 goals and 1 assist. [9]

1994 FIFA World Cup 1994 edition of the FIFA World Cup

The 1994 FIFA World Cup was the 15th edition of the FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It was hosted by the United States and took place from 17 June to 17 July 1994 at nine venues across the country. The United States was chosen as the host by FIFA on 4 July 1988. Despite the host nation's lack of soccer tradition, the tournament was the most financially successful in World Cup history; aided by the high-capacity stadiums in the United States, it broke the World Cup average attendance record with more than 69,000 spectators per game, a mark that still stands. The total attendance of nearly 3.6 million for the final tournament remains the highest in World Cup history, despite the expansion of the competition from 24 to 32 teams, which was first introduced at the 1998 World Cup and is the current format.

Hristo Stoichkov Bulgarian footballer

Hristo Stoichkov is a Bulgarian former footballer who is currently a football commentator for Univision Deportes. A prolific forward, he is regarded as one of the best players of his generation and is widely considered the greatest Bulgarian footballer of all time. He was runner-up for the FIFA World Player of the Year award in 1992 and 1994, and received the Ballon d'Or in 1994. In 2004, Stoichkov was named by Pelé in the FIFA 100 list of the world's greatest living players.

United States

The original North American Soccer League kept assist statistics from its foundation in 1968, as its forebears the United Soccer Association and National Professional Soccer League had done the previous year. [10] Analogous statistics were already being kept in basketball and in ice hockey, both established North American sports.

Major League Soccer formerly awarded the MLS Golden Boot based on 2 points per goal scored and one per assist. The all-time leader in assists in Major League Soccer is midfielder Landon Donovan, with 136 assists as of October 2014. [11]

The NCAA makes regulations for statistics, including assists, in college soccer in the U.S. [12] Two players may be credited with assists if the second did not have to beat a defender before passing to the scorer. [4] No assist is awarded for winning a penalty. [13] If a goal is scored after a save, block, or rebound from the goal frame, the first shooter gets an assist. [14]


In Britain, official game statistics, including assists, for the Premier League, the Scottish Premier League and the Football League are provided by PA Sport under the Actim brand. [15] Since the 2006–07 season, assists have been factored into the Actim Index of Premier League player performance. [16] The assist statistics provided by fantasy football competitions may differ from the Actim data; some uniformly credit an assist to whichever teammate last touched the ball before the scorer, regardless of other circumstances of the play. [17] The "Premier League Playmaker award" was introduced in the 2017–18 Premier League for the player with most assists over a season. [18]


The French league, Ligue 1, awards the Trophée de Meilleur Passeur ("best passer trophy") to the player with most "decisive passes" in a season, the 2013–14 champion being James Rodríguez with 12. [19] The French league's Commission des Compétitions includes blocked shots as a subset of "decisive passes". [19] [20] In 2012–13, Mathieu Valbuena and Dimitri Payet finished with 12 assists, Valbuena winning the trophy by having fewer blocked shots (3 against 5) among his total. [20]

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  1. 1 2 3 4 FIFA Technical Study Group (1986). "1986 World Cup Technical Report, part 4" (PDF). FIFA. The Table of Goalscorers: Goals and Assists, page 198. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  2. 1 2 FIFA Technical Study Group (1990). "1990 World Cup Technical Report, part 6" (PDF). FIFA. p. 281. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  3. "Haverford College vs Alvernia College". Haverford College. 18 September 2007. Archived from the original on 13 July 2007. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  4. 1 2 NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(1)
  5. "adidas Golden Shoe Award" (PDF). FIFA. Archived (PDF) from the original on 26 June 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  6. "World Cup 1966 statistics". Planet World Cup. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  7. "World Cup 1986 statistics". Planet World Cup. Archived from the original on 20 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  8. 1 2 3 Bryan, Rebecca (11 July 1994). "Football by the numbers". Los Angeles: Agence France Presse. the assist has gained enough ground to earn a place in the calculations for the Golden Boot award, which in every previous World Cup has been awarded solely on the basis of goals scored. Under the formula, players get three points for a goal, and one point for an assist. "We made a two-point difference because we do not want someone who did not score winning the award," a FIFA official said.
  9. 1 2 "Romario is voted the top player of World Cup '94 and winner of the FIFA/adidas Golden Ball award; Salenko and Stoichkov tie as leading scorers for World Cup USA '94". Business Wire. 17 July 1994. [FIFA] has announced Oleg Salenko (Russia) and Hristo Stoichkov (Bulgaria) as [...] winners of the prestigious adidas Golden Shoe award [...] who made six goals and one assist each. Kennet Andersson (Sweden) with 5 goals and 3 assists, will receive a Bronze replica of the Predator [...] Throughout World Cup '94, three points were awarded for each goal scored and one point for each assist leading to a goal, with a maximum of two assists per goal. Assists are only taken into account if two or more players scored the same number of goals.
  10. "NASL Top Scorer Award". midfielddynamo. Archived from the original on 24 July 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  11. "Statistics".
  12. "Section 5: Assists" (PDF). Official Soccer Statistics Rules; Approved Rulings and Interpretations. NCAA. 2009. p. 2. Retrieved 25 June 2010.
  13. NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(3)
  14. NCAA Official Soccer Statistics Rules, §5.Art 1.(8),(9)
  15. "Actim Stats Frequently Asked Questions". PA Sport. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  16. "Actim Index Explained". PA Sport. Archived from the original on 2 August 2008. Retrieved 29 July 2008.
  17. Coombs, Dan (22 September 2013). "Mesut Ozil... When is an assist not an assist?". HITC Sport. hereisthecity. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  18. "New Premier League player award announced" (Press release). Premier League. 18 April 2018. Retrieved 18 April 2018.
  19. 1 2 "James Rodriguez en prince de la passe". (in French). Ligue de Football Professionnel. 17 May 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2014.
  20. 1 2 "C'est la bonne pour Mathieu Valbuena". Ligue de Football Professionnel. 26 May 2013. Retrieved 21 July 2014.