The golden goal or golden point is a rule used in association football, bandy, lacrosse, field hockey, ice hockey and korfball to decide the winner of a match (typically a knock-out 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.
The golden goal is still used in the Beach Soccer World Cup, in NCAA matches and in FIH sanctioned field hockey games, as well as in FIRS sanctioned roller hockey games. A related concept is used in National Rugby League games. A similar golden goal rule is also used in all National Hockey League (NHL) overtime games (followed by a shootout if needed, in the regular season and preseason); however, the term "golden goal" is not used. A rule similar to the golden goal also applies in the National Football League (only if a touchdown or safety is scored first on the first possession), although again the term itself is not used.
The first recorded use of the golden goal rule was in the final of the Cromwell Cup, the world's second ever football competition, at Bramall Lane, Sheffield in 1868, although the term golden goal was not used. The deciding goal was scored by the then newly formed team called The Wednesday, now known as Sheffield Wednesday. The golden goal was introduced due to perceived failings of other means of resolving a draw (tie) in round-robin or knock-out tournaments where a winner is required. In particular, extra time periods can be tense and unentertaining as sides are too tired and nervous to attack, preferring to defend and play for penalties; whilst penalty shootouts are often described as based upon luck, and unrepresentative of football. FIFA introduced the golden goal rule in 1993. It was hoped that the golden goal would produce more attacking play during extra time, and would reduce the number of penalty shootouts.
International field hockey tournaments such as the Hockey World Cup and Champions Trophy had used golden goals to decide the winners of elimination matches. During these matches, two extra periods of 7½ minutes each were played, and if no golden goals were scored after both periods of extra time, a penalty stroke competition decided the game. FIH, the sport's governing body, did away with the overtime procedure in 2013, and now teams go directly to the shootout.
The golden goal rule comes into use at the end of regulation of every National Hockey League game where the score is tied. In the regular season, five minutes of three-on-three sudden-death overtime are played, with the first goal winning the game. If, however, neither team scores after this period, a shootout determines the winner. In playoff games, shootouts are not used; 20-minute periods of five-on-five hockey are played until a goal is scored to end the game. This has resulted in extremely long contests, such as the "Easter Epic"; a playoff series-deciding match which ended in the midst of its fourth overtime. The term "golden goal" is not a commonly used term in hockey, rather it is known as an "overtime winner" or "overtime goal".
The Winter Olympics ice hockey tournament uses the golden goal rule only in the gold/bronze medal games, with a 20-minute period of four-on-four. The game ends if a goal is scored; otherwise, a penalty shootout will determine the winner. This method was used to determine the 2010 men's final, where Sidney Crosby scored the game-winning goal 7:40 into overtime. As that goal won Canada the Gold Medal, it has become known as "The Golden Goal". Another happened at the 2014 women's final, as Marie-Philip Poulin scored at 8:10 of overtime for Canada. In both instances, the team they beat was the United States.
The National Football League introduced sudden death during the regular season in the NFL in 1974 and had always had it in its playoffs. Like the NHL, the NFL's rule comes into use at the end of regulation of any regular season game. Until 2011, it applied for playoff games as well. A new "quarter" is started, with a kickoff. Whichever team scores first—either through a field goal or through a touchdown, or far more rarely a safety—wins the game and the game ends. In the preseason and regular season, teams are given a "fifth quarter" of fifteen minutes to decide the game. Originally if neither team scored after 15 minutes the game ended in a tie. Since the 2012 season, each team gets one possession to score, unless one of them scores a touchdown or safety on its first possession. Sudden death rules apply if both teams have had their initial possession and the game remains tied. If after the OT period it remains tied during that time, the game still ends.
Because this presents a significant advantage to the team winning the coin toss to decide who receives the first overtime possession, the NFL moved in 2011 to require that if both teams have not had possession of the ball prior to the first score, then the team who does have possession must score a touchdown to end the game, preventing the team winning the coin toss from making a much shorter drive down the field and kicking a "golden goal" without the other team having a chance to touch the ball. Making the longer drive downfield and scoring a touchdown still ends the game immediately. This applied first in the postseason and later was adopted in the 2012 season. During the postseason, multiple 15-minute overtime "quarters" can be played until either team scores. The record for a number of overtimes in a professional football game is three, when on June 30, 1984, the Los Angeles Express defeated the Michigan Panthers, 27–21, in the 1984 USFL playoffs.
The NFL is the only American football league that currently uses the golden goal. Most levels of football, including high school, college, most indoor leagues, and Canadian football, use a system known as the "Kansas Playoff" that more closely resembles baseball innings. Some professional leagues, such as the modern United Football League, use a system that guarantees each team has a possession before switching to sudden death.
A "Golden point" system, whereby a rugby league game whose 80 minutes have ended in a draw is decided by whichever team scores the first point (by whatever means) during a period of extra time is the winner. It was first used in 1997's Super League Tri-Series.
The term golden goal was introduced by FIFA in 1993 along with the rule change because the alternative term, "sudden death", was perceived to have negative connotations. Following a draw, two fifteen-minute periods of extra time are played. If any team scores a goal during extra time, the game ends immediately and the scoring team becomes the winner. The winning goal is known as the "golden goal". If there have been no goals scored after both periods of extra time, a penalty shootout decides the game. The golden goal was not compulsory, and individual competitions using extra time could choose whether to apply it during extra time. The first European Football Championship played with the rule was in 1996; the first World Cup played with the rule was in 1998.
The first golden goal recorded was in March 1993 by Australia against Uruguay in a quarter-final match at the FIFA World Youth Championships. The first major tournament final to be decided by such a goal was the 1995 Football League Trophy, where Birmingham beat Carlisle United 1–0, with a goal from Paul Tait, followed by the 1996 European Football Championship, won by Germany over the Czech Republic. The golden goal in this final was scored by Oliver Bierhoff. The first golden goal in World Cup history took place in 1998, as Laurent Blanc scored to enable France to defeat Paraguay in the Round of 16.
In a qualification game for the 1994 Caribbean Cup, Barbados deliberately scored a late own goal in a successful attempt to qualify for the finals by forcing golden-goal extra time against Grenada, as an unusual tournament rule stated that golden goals counted double in calculating goal difference. Needing a two-goal victory to qualify, Barbados found themselves 2–1 up with three minutes left of normal time. After the Barbadians scored an own goal to bring the scoreline level at 2–2, Grenada tried to score in either net while Barbados defended both goals for the final three minutes of normal time. Barbados won the game in extra time and advanced to the next round.
In 2000, France defeated Italy in extra time in the UEFA Euro 2000 Final when David Trezeguet scored a golden goal. France thus became the first holder of both the FIFA World Cup and UEFA European Championship in history since West Germany in 1974.
The following year, Liverpool F.C. overcame Deportivo Alavés in the UEFA Cup Final with an own golden goal by Delfí Geli to make the score 5–4 to Liverpool.
Golden goal was used in the FIFA World Cup for the last time in 2002, when Turkey defeated Senegal in the quarter finals when İlhan Mansız scored what would be the final golden goal in male tournaments. However, the 2003 Women's World Cup's final was decided by a golden goal as Germany defeated Sweden 2–1 with a header by Nia Künzer in the 98th minute.
In the 2002 season UEFA introduced a new rule, the silver goal, to decide a competitive match. In extra time the team leading after the first fifteen-minute half would win, but the game would no longer stop the instant a team scored. Competitions that operated extra time would be able to decide whether to use the golden goal, the silver goal, or neither procedure during extra time.
On 27 August 2003, Dutch club Ajax qualified for the group stage of the 2003–04 UEFA Champions League by virtue of the silver goal against Austrian club GAK after the two legs finished 1–1 each after 90 minutes. In extra time, Ajax was able to take advantage of GAK having two players sent off when Tomáš Galásek scored on a penalty in the 103rd minute.
Less than a year later on 1 July 2004, Galásek would be on the field when the silver goal was featured in the only major competitive match to be decided by a silver goal: that of the semi-final match at Euro 2004 between Greece and the Czech Republic. However, the silver goal would eliminate the Czech Republic as Traianos Dellas scored for Greece after a corner kick in the last two seconds of the first period of extra time.
The golden goal and silver goal were widely perceived as failed experiments. They had not brought about more active and attacking play and there was confusion when events could choose among several different extra time rules. The golden goal in the Euro 96 final was controversial, as the Czechs who were on the losing side argued that the Germans' winning goal was offside, and the immediate celebrations after the golden goal was scored made it impossible for the referee to disallow the goal and continue the match. The silver goal has been called illogical in that it denies the losing team the chance of saving the match simply by virtue of when the goal is scored, a point best illustrated in the Euro 2004 semi-final; if the Greek goal had been scored 15 seconds later, that is immediately after the extra-time interval (instead of the last two seconds of the first period of extra time), the Czechs would have had nearly 15 minutes to attempt to score the equalizer. Furthermore, one team could benefit unfairly from the conditions, such as if a strong wind aided one side.
In February 2004, the IFAB announced that after Euro 2004 in Portugal, both the golden goal and silver goal methods would be removed from the Laws of the Game. Since the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany the golden goal has never been used in the event of a tied match during the knockout stage,and FIFA restored the original rules: in the event of a tied game after the original 90 minutes, two straight 15-minute periods of extra time were played. If a tie still remained after that, the winner was decided by a penalty shootout.