Every time soccer fans tune in to watch their favorite team (whether at home or in the stadium), what they really want to see is their favorite team scoring numerous goals. However, in most games, the scoring is done by both teams.
To eliminate any form of ambiguity, the scoring system was introduced in soccer to determine who wins the game. For a tournament like the World Cup, it is easy to determine the winner during the knockout stage because the game will go on until one team outscores the other.
However, for group stages of major tournaments or league games that run for 38 games, it is harder to determine the winner without a point system. Therefore, every soccer competition uses a point system to rank the teams to determine the winners and the losers.
Counting the points in soccer is pretty easy and straightforward. However, a newbie that recently fell in love with the game may find it confusing.
If you are one of those wondering how to count soccer points, we will explain it all to you. In this post, we will tell you why a team is handed the trophy at the end of a long contest and others are either sent home or relegated.
How to count soccer points?
A team wins when they score more goals than their opponent. A goal in soccer is recorded when the entire ball crosses the goal line. This rule was made by the FA in 1863.
For a goal to count, the player must have used only allowed body parts to kick the ball. Also, there should have been no infringements in the actions leading up to the goal.
If a referee mistakenly blows the whistle before the entire ball crosses the line, play will be restarted using a drop ball.
Prior to the introduction of goal-line technology in soccer, there have been cases where the ball did not completely cross the line and was erroneously awarded a goal by the referee. Thankfully, such incidences have reduced, thanks to the combination of VAR and goal technology.
However, we have seen several cases where the game ends goalless or the teams score an equal number of goals. In some games, the game will proceed to extra time and a penalty shootout to determine the winner.
Whenever an outright winner is required in a game, the point system will take the back seat. In such situations, any team that outscores the other is declared the winner.
The point system only comes to play when a series of games have to be played to determine the winner. Any tournament that makes use of the point system will have a table, where all the points accumulated from all the games are tallied.
At the end of the entire game, the team with the highest point wins. It is important to mention that not all soccer variations make use of the point system. Here is a highlight of how to count soccer points in all the different variants of the game.
In association football, there are two types of competitions namely tournaments and leagues. In a tournament, a winning team will progress to the next stage of the competition and continue to play until only one team is left—and takes the trophy.
Tournament point counting system
World Cup and other continental competitions fall under the association football tournament. In the tournament system, all the competing teams are placed in groups of 4s.
Depending on the number of participating teams, you can have 4 to 8 groups labeled A, B, C, D, and so on. This part of the tournament is called the group stage.
The point system is used in the group stage of a tournament to decide the teams that will make it to the next round of the competition. Every team will play against the 3 other teams in each group. In the point system, the award of points is as follows;
- Every win is equal to 3 points
- A draw is equal to 1 point.
- The team that loses gets zero points.
Therefore, the team that gets the 9 maximum points from any group will automatically qualify for the next stage. In this scoring system, the number of goals you score doesn’t matter. All that counts is whether you won, drew, or lost the game.
Usually, the first and the second team after all the points from the three games have been tallied will make it to the next stage. From the knockout stages of the competition, the point system is dropped. Any team that wins proceeds to the next stage while the losing team goes home.
League point counting system
How to count soccer points in a league is slightly different from that of tournaments. While a tournament switches to a knockout format after the group stages, the league continues with the point system throughout the entire duration of the league.
In the league system, there are usually a total of 20 teams that play a total of 38 games in the home and away format. Following the standard point-scoring format, each team accumulates points depending on whether they win or draw their game.
The points of each of the teams are tracked using a table. The table usually has 8 columns that display match played (MP), win (W), draw (D), loss (L), the goals scored (GS) or goals for (F, GF), goals conceded or goals against (A, GA), goals difference (GD), and the points accumulated by the team (Pts).
The team with the highest point at the end of the league wins the league cup. In the English Premier League, the top 4 teams with the highest points will qualify for the UEFA Champions League group stage.
The team with the 5th highest point on the log will qualify for the Europa League group stage. Also, the 3 bottom teams with the least points get relegated to the lower division league.
The league point system ranks teams in descending order. Thus, the team with the most points will be at the top while the team with the least point will be at the bottom.
Beach soccer is a typical 5v5 variant of association football that is played on beach sand. Inasmuch as it shares some similarities with association football, one of its major differences is how points are counted.
In association football, a tie earns each team 1 point. However, in beach soccer, there is nothing like a tie. What that means is that every game must end with a win and a loss.
Regardless of the fact that beach soccer doesn’t allow a tie in a game, there are still laws that govern its point system.
- Any team that scores the most goals during normal regulation time gets 3 points
- If a team should win during the extra time, they will get 2 points
- If a team wins through a penalty shootout, they will get 1 point
- The losing team will not get any point
If a game should head to the penalty shootout, each team will take 5 shots. If at the end of the 5 shots, there is no winner, the penalty kick will head to sudden death.
Indoor soccer (futsal)
Indoor soccer is another variant of association football that is played in an enclosed space. One of the most popular indoor soccer is futsal.
Just like every other soccer variant, a goal is scored in futsal when the entire ball crosses the goal line. The point system in futsal is closely related to that of association football.
- The winning team gets 3 points
- Both teams will get 1 point when there is a draw
- The losing team will not get any point
Another interesting feature of futsal is the forfeiture point awarding system. If a team should forfeit their game, their opponent will be awarded 3 points and 3 goals.
The points will continue to accumulate and the team with the highest point at the end of the pool play will win the competition. If there is a tie in point, goal difference, and penalty shoot-out is used to break the tie.
The popularity of street soccer has grown over the years in the United States. This soccer variation shares a lot of similarities with association football and beach soccer.
The game comprises two halves of 7 minutes each. The team that outscores the other wins. Like beach soccer, a draw is not allowed in the United States street soccer variant.
It is important to mention that different associations often alter their rules slightly to achieve a certain aim. Points in street soccer are awarded as follows;
- The winning team gets 3 points
- The losing team gets zero points
Whenever a game ends in a draw, the winner will be decided by a sudden-death penalty shootout. The penalty kick will continue until one team scores and the other fails to score.
Also, if a team is excluded from a tournament for a disciplinary reason or fails to show up for a game, the opponent is awarded the 3 points and the match is judged to have ended 0:3 in favor of the opponent.
In a sport like basketball, the number of times the ball passes through the basket is counted as two points or three points if the ball is thrown from outside the three-point line. These numbers are tallied and become the points the team gets from the game.
However, in soccer, the number of times the ball passes through the net does not necessarily count as points. For example, a team can score 10 goals in a game but the maximum points they can get if they win the game is three points.
However, scoring plenty of goals and conceding a few can help a team when there is a tie in point at the end of the point tally. The more goals you score and the fewer you concede increases your goal difference which is basically the number of goals scored minus the number of goals conceded.
In a league, the team with the most goal difference (GD) will be ranked higher than the one with lesser goal difference—even when they both have the same point.
A similar scenario will play out in the group stage of a tournament. At the end of the group stages, if two teams are tied in second with the same number of points, the team with the most goals will proceed to the next stage of the competition.
Soccer points can seem a little bit confusing—especially if you are used to other types of games that don’t use the point system. However, once you get a hang of it, you will discover that it is easier than it seems.
Hopefully, we were able to help to make it easier for you to understand how to count soccer points with our detailed explanation.
Hi there, I’m Jay.
Soccer is everything in my life! My friends and I have created this blog with all our enthusiasm, passion, and understanding after years of playing pro soccer. Hope you will enjoy it!