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]

The Laws of the Game (LOTG) are the codified rules that help define association football. They are the only rules of association football subscribed to by FIFA. 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.

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.


It addresses two aspects of the game:

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 each 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 also referred to as a goal. Each team aims to score at one end of the pitch, while also preventing their opponents 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.

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]

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]

Three points for a win is a standard used in many sports leagues and group tournaments, especially in association football, in which three points are awarded to the team winning a match, with no points awarded to the losing team. If the game is drawn, each team receives one point. The system places additional value on wins compared to draws such that teams with a higher number of wins may rank higher in tables than teams with a lower number of wins but more draws.

A replay is the repetition of a match in many sports.

The away goals rule is a method of breaking ties 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.

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.


Association football is distinctive from most other codes of football in retaining the principle that the goal is the only method of scoring. [6] In 1923, a statement to this effect was formally added to the Laws of the Game: [7]

Football Group of related team sports

Football is a family of team sports that involve, to varying degrees, kicking a ball to score a goal. Unqualified, the word football is understood to refer to whichever form of football is the most popular in the regional context in which the word appears. Sports commonly called football in certain places include association football ; gridiron football ; Australian rules football; rugby football ; and Gaelic football. These different variations of football are known as football codes.

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

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 Civil Service v. Barnes, 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, being abolished in February 1867 after a proposal by Wanderers FC. [11]

Drawing of lots

Random procedures, such as drawing lots or tossing a coin, have been used to break ties in tournaments such as the 1928 Olympics "consolation final", and the semi-final of the 1968 European Championships.

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. [12]

Golden goal

The golden goal, originally known as "sudden death", was a procedure introduced experimentally in 1993, [13] 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. [14]

Related Research Articles

The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, 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.

Offside (association football) law in association football

Offside is one of the laws of association football, codified in Law 11 of the Laws of the Game. The law states that a player is in an offside position if any of their body parts, except the hands and arms, are in the opponents' half of the pitch, and closer to the opponents' goal line than both the ball and the second-last opponent.

Futsal Ballgame-team sport, variant of association football

Futsal is a variant of association football played on a hard court, smaller than a football pitch, and mainly indoors. It can be considered a version of five-a-side football.

An own goal is an event in competitive goal-scoring sports where a player scores on their own side of the playing area rather than the one defended by the opponent. Own goals sometimes result from the opponent's defensive strength, as when the player is stopped in the scoring area, but can also happen by accident. Since own goals are often added to the opponent's score, they are often an embarrassing blunder for the scoring player, but in certain sports are occasionally done for strategic reasons.

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.

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.

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. Corners are considered to be a reasonable goal scoring opportunity for the attacking side, though not as much as a penalty kick or a direct free kick near the edge of the penalty area.

Football pitch playing surface for the game of association football

A football pitch is the playing surface for the game of association football. Its dimensions and markings are defined by Law 1 of the Laws of the Game, "The Field of Play". The surface can either be natural or artificial. Artificial surfaces must be green in colour. The pitch is typically made of turf (grass) or artificial turf, although amateur and recreational teams often play on dirt fields.

Goal kick method of restarting play in association football

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 football when the ball has exited the side of the field of play.

Dropped-ball method of restarting play in association football

A dropped-ball is a method of restarting play in a game of association football. It is designed to offer no advantage to either side, generally being awarded when play has been stopped due to reasons other than normal gameplay, fouls, or misconduct. The rules concerning the dropped-ball are part of Law 8 of the Laws of the Game.

Kick-off (association football) method of restarting play in 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 Association Football rules formed for Sheffield F.C.

The Sheffield Rules was a code of football devised and played in the English city of Sheffield between 1857 and 1877. They were devised by Nathaniel Creswick and William Prest for use by the newly founded Sheffield Football Club. The rules were subsequently adopted as the official rules of Sheffield Football Association upon its creation in 1867. They 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 70s.

The goalkeeper, often shortened to keeper or goalie, is one of the major positions of association football. It is the most specialised position in the sport. The goalkeeper's primary role is to prevent the opposing team from scoring. This is accomplished by the goalkeeper moving into the path of the ball and either catching it or directing it away from the vicinity of the goal line. Within the penalty area goalkeepers are able to use their hands, making them the only players on the field permitted to handle the ball. The special status of goalkeepers is indicated by them wearing different coloured kits from their teammates.

John Charles Thring, known during his life as "Charles Thring" or "J. C. Thring", was an English clergyman and teacher, notable for his contributions to the early history of association football.

Comparison of association football and futsal

Futsal began in the 1930s in South America as a version of association football, taking elements of its parent game into an indoor format so players could still play during inclement weather. Over the years, both sports have developed, creating a situation where the two sports share common traits while also hosting various differences.

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. For comparison, in rugby football the try has become more important than the goal, even though during most of the nineteenth century the try, then known as a "try at goal", was significant only because of the opportunity it afforded to score a "goal" by kicking the ball between the posts, in what would subsequently become known as a conversion
  7. Laws of the Game (1923)  via Wikisource.
  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. "International Football Association Board: 1970 Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). p. 6. Retrieved 2019-01-24.
  13. "International Football Association Board: 1993 Minutes of the Annual General Meeting" (PDF). p. 29. Retrieved 2019-01-25.
  14. "Amendments to the Laws of the Game -- 2004" (PDF). p. 4. Retrieved 2019-01-25.