Determining the Outcome of a Match (association football)

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Determining the Outcome of a Match is the 10th of the Laws of the Game of association football. [1]


It addresses two aspects of the game:

The current name and content of Law 10 date from 2016. [2] From 1938 until 2016, Law 10 was titled "Method of Scoring", and addressed only the procedure for scoring a goal. [3] [4] Procedures for breaking ties were addressed, if at all, in a supplemental section of the laws. [5]

Scoring a goal

Determining the winner of a drawn match

In most games, a draw is an allowable outcome. League competitions using the common three points for a win system award a single point to both teams for a drawn match.

However in some competitions, such as in knock-out tournaments, it is necessary to resolve a victor. Some competitions employ replays, otherwise there are three procedures permitted by Law 10 to determine the winner of a drawn match: [1]

  1. the away goals rule (for two-legged matches only)
  2. extra time, consisting of two periods of 15 minutes each
  3. a penalty shoot-out

Normally these are applied in the order listed above — i.e. for a two legged match, extra time is played if the away goals rule does not determine a victor. After extra time, if the score is still level, a penalty shoot-out takes place.

In a few cup competitions extra time is ignored completely and the game goes directly to penalties. Most of the time this applies to the whole tournament and as is decided before the tournament begins, but on rare occasions can be decided for individual games before kick off. Examples of where this happens include the EFL Cup and County Cups. [6]


Before 1863

Most codes of football from before 1863 provided only one means of scoring (typically called the "goal", although Harrow football used the word "base"). [7] The two major exceptions (the Eton field game and Sheffield rules, which borrowed the concept from Eton) both used the "rouge" (a touchdown, somewhat similar to a try in today's rugby) as a tie-breaker.

The 1863 FA laws

The 1863 laws of the game provided for only one means of scoring: the goal. There was no procedure to break ties.

The "touch down"

In February 1866, association football briefly adopted a tie-breaker known as the "touch down" (plural: "touches down"). This "touch down" had similarities to the "rouge" used in the Eton field game and Sheffield rules, and also to the try in today's rugby codes. It was defined thus: [8]

In case the ball goes behind the goal line, a player on the side to whom the goal belongs shall kick it off from the goal line, at the point opposite the place where the ball is touched by a player with any part of his body; but if a player of the opposite side first touches the ball, after it has gone behind the goal line of his adversary, one "touch down" shall be scored by his side, and in the event of no goals being got on either side, or an equal number of goals being got on each side, the side obtaining the greater number of "touches down" shall be the winners of the match

An example of a game being decided by "touches down" is Barnes FC v. Civil Service FC, played on Saturday December 8th, 1866. The match "resulted in a victory for the Civil Service by three touches down to none, no goal being obtained by either side". [9] In the historic London v. Sheffield match played on March 31st 1866, "London" (a representative team from the Football Association) won by two goals and four touches down to nil. [10]

The "touch down" lasted only one year. It was abolished in February 1867, on the basis of a proposal by Wanderers FC. [11] FA Secretary Robert Graham later explained the benefit of its removal, writing that "the whole play is now directed to obtaining a goal, whereas formerly this chief object in the game was frequently lost sight of in the efforts to obtain a 'touch down'". [12]

Explicit statement that the goal is the only means of scoring

In 1923, the following statement was added to the Laws of the Game: [13]

A game shall be won by the team scoring the greater number of goals. If no goals have been scored, or the scores are equal at the end of the game, the game shall be drawn

This change was made in order to prevent the use of the corner-kick as a tie-breaker. [14]

Drawing of lots

Between 1867 and 1970, the laws of the game said nothing about the means by which ties should be broken in a tournament which required a definitive result. The most common practice, as seen in the 1928 Olympics "consolation final" and the semi-final of the 1968 European Championships, was to use a random procedure such as drawing of lots or tossing a coin.

Use of corner-kicks as tiebreaker

Despite the 1923 law mentioned above, the Dublin City Cup (until the 1960s) and Dublin and Belfast Inter-City Cup (in the 1940s) used corner count as a tiebreaker in knockout rounds. [15] [16]

Penalty shoot-out

The use of drawing of lots was "discontinued" by the International Football Association Board at its 1970 meeting, to be replaced by the penalty shoot-out. [17]

Golden goal

The golden goal, originally known as "sudden death", was a procedure introduced experimentally in 1993, [18] by which the first team to score during extra-time was declared to be the winner. The golden goal was used at the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments, before being abolished in 2004. [19] During the latter part of this period, a variant known as the "silver goal" was also used.

Related Research Articles

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The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, baseball, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey, floorball and korfball to decide the winner of a match in which scores are equal at the end of normal time. It is a type of sudden death. Under this rule, the game will end when a goal or point is scored; the team that scores that goal or point during extra time will be the winner. Introduced formally in 1992, though with some history before that, the rule ceased to apply to most FIFA-authorized football games in 2004. The similar silver goal supplemented the golden goal between 2002 and 2004.

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A penalty shoot-out is a method of determining which team is awarded victory in an association football match that cannot end in a draw, when the score is tied after the regulation playing time as well as extra time have expired. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns shooting at goal from the penalty mark, with the goal only defended by the opposing team's goalkeeper. Each team has five shots which must be taken by different kickers; the team that makes more successful kicks is declared the victor. Shoot-outs finish as soon as one team has an insurmountable lead. If scores are level after five pairs of shots, the shootout progresses into additional "sudden-death" rounds. Balls successfully kicked into the goal during a shoot-out do not count as goals for the individual kickers or the team, and are tallied separately from the goals scored during normal play. Although the procedure for each individual kick in the shoot-out resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked.

In a sport or game, sudden death is a form of competition where play ends as soon as one competitor is ahead of the others, with that competitor becoming the winner. Sudden death is typically used as a tiebreaker when a contest is tied at the end of regulation (normal) playing time or the completion of the normal playing task.

Overtime or extra time is an additional period of play specified under the rules of a sport to bring a game to a decision and avoid declaring the match a tie or draw where the scores are the same. In some sports, this extra period is played only if the game is required to have a clear winner, as in single-elimination tournaments where only one team or players can advance to the next round or win the tournament. In other sports, particularly those prominently played in North America where ties are generally disfavored, some form of overtime is employed for all games.

The penalty shootout is a method of determining a winner in sports matches that would have otherwise been drawn or tied. The rules for penalty shootouts vary between sports and even different competitions; however, the usual form is similar to penalty shots in that a single player takes one shot on goal from a specified spot, the only defender being the goalkeeper. If the result is still tied, the shootout usually continues on a "goal-for-goal" basis, with the teams taking shots alternately, and the one that scores a goal unmatched by the other team is declared the winner. This may continue until every player has taken a shot, after which players may take extra shots, until the tie is broken, and is also known as "sudden death".

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The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules of 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 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.

Corner kick Method of restarting play in association football

A corner kick is the method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball goes out of play over the goal line, without a goal being scored and having last been touched by a member of the defending team. The kick is taken from the corner of the field of play nearest to where it went out.

The away goals rule is a method of tiebreaking in association football and other sports when teams play each other twice, once at each team's home ground. By the away goals rule, the team that has scored more goals "away from home" wins, if the total goals scored by each team are otherwise equal. This is sometimes expressed by saying that away goals "count double" in the event of a tie, though in practice the team with more away goals is simply recorded as the victor, rather than having additional or 'double' goals added to their total.

Goal kick

A goal kick, called a goalie kick in some regions, is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. Its procedure is dictated by Law 16 of the Laws of the Game.

Throw-in Method of restarting play in association football

A throw-in is a method of restarting play in a game of association football when the ball has exited the side of the field of play. It is governed by Law 15 of The Laws Of The Game.


A dropped-ball is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is used when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay, fouls, or misconduct. The situations requiring a dropped-ball restart are outlined in Law 8 and Law 9 of the Laws of the Game; Law 8 also contains the dropped-ball procedure.

Kick-off (association football)

A kick-off is the method of starting and, in some cases, restarting play in a game of association football. The rules concerning the kick-off are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.

Sheffield Rules

The Sheffield Rules was a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1858 and 1877. The rules were initially created and revised by Sheffield Football Club, with responsibility for the laws passing to the Sheffield Football Association upon that body's creation in 1867. The rules spread beyond the city boundaries to other clubs and associations in the north and midlands of England, making them one of the most popular forms of football during the 1860s and 1870s.

Scoring in association football

In games of association football teams compete to score the most goals during the match. A goal is scored when the ball passes completely over a goal line at either end of the field of play between two centrally positioned upright goal posts 24 feet (7.32 m) apart and underneath a horizontal crossbar at a height of 8 feet (2.44 m) — this frame is itself referred to as a goal. Each team aims to score at one end of the pitch, while preventing their opponents from scoring at the other. Nets are usually attached to the goal frame to catch goalscoring balls, but the ball is not required to touch the net.

Free kick (association football) Method of restarting play in association football

A free kick is a method of restarting play in association football. It is awarded after an infringement of the laws by the opposing team.

London v. Sheffield was an association football game played on 31 March 1866. According to Charles Alcock, it was the "first match of any importance under the auspices of the Football Association".


  1. 1 2 "Laws of the Game 2018/19" (PDF). IFAB. p. 91. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  2. "Laws of the Game 2016/17" (PDF). p. 113. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  3. "Laws of the Game 2015/2016" (PDF). FIFA. p. 35. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  4. "The Revised Laws: X -- Method of Scoring". Evening Telegraph. Dundee: 8. 1938-07-26.
  5. e.g. "Procedures to Determine the Winner of a Match or Home-And-Away", in "Laws of the Game 2015/2016" (PDF). FIFA. pp. 55–57. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  6. "Carabao Cup games to go straight to penalties after EFL removes extra time" . Retrieved 2019-06-12.
  7. This was true even of the form of football played at Rugby school, where the predecessor of today's try was, as the name suggests, of value only because of the opportunity it offered to "try" to score a goal by kicking the ball through the posts, in the predecessor of today's conversion.
  8. Laws of the Game (1866)  via Wikisource.; emphasis added
  9. "Civil Service v. Barnes Club". The Sportsman (156): 4. 1866-12-13.
  10. "London v Sheffield". Bell's Life in London (2294): 10. 1866-04-07.
  11. Laws of the Game (1867)  via Wikisource.
  12. "Kicking Behind Goal Line". Field: 424. 1867-11-23.
  13. Laws of the Game (1923)  via Wikisource.
  14. "En Passant". Athletic News: 1. 1923-04-02. This change is not quite so unnecessary as it might appear, for matches have been decided by corner-kicks to prevent replays in charity games late in the season.
  15. Farrell, Gerard (1 October 2015). "The 1945 Inter-City Cup: War, Goals, Controversy and death by corner kicks". Bohemian FC . Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  16. DeLoughry, Sean (28 May 2015). "Ireland - Dublin City Cup Winners". Rec.Sport.Soccer Statistics Foundation . Retrieved 16 August 2017.
  17. "International Football Association Board: 1970 Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  18. "International Football Association Board: 1993 Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). p. 29. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  19. "Amendments to the Laws of the Game -- 2004" (PDF). p. 4. Retrieved 2019-01-25.