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Determining the Outcome of a Match (association football)

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 procedure for scoring a goal
  • Procedures for determining the winner of a "drawn" match, in which each team scores the same number of goals

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]


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]

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]


  1. ^ a b "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.