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When Is It A Goal In Soccer?

When Is It A Goal In Soccer?

In 2004, Zlatan Ibrahimovich achieved a goal that the soccer greats would approve of. He twisted and turned, eluding five attacks from opponents to collect the ball before shooting it gently into the goal.

The extent of mastery and dupes he utilized made it one of the best goals ever. His team won the game 6-2, which makes us side-eye the opposition, but it was still a great goal.

Additionally, Dennis Bergkamp was recognized for his calm talent and ball control; the goal that he scored for Arsenal against Newcastle in 2002 left everyone amazed. It is tough to clarify precisely what he did because no one else appears to have done it before.

However, one could say he kicked the ball back around the defender, swerved, and ran to the other side of the defender to retrieve the ball and score. However, nothing describes it better than watching the real footage and being stunned!

In late 2012, Zlatan Ibrahimovich scored yet another stunning goal in an international friendly game against England. When the England goalkeeper, Joe Hart attempted to make a goal-line clearance, Zlatan whirled on his heels, jumped into the air, and curled an overhead kick into the England goal from 30 yards away.

While it is said in the soccer world that overhead kicks are mainly lucky goals, the skill, confidence, fitness, and precision illustrated by Ibrahimovich were extraordinary. During soccer games, the squads strive to score the most goals during the match.

Nevertheless, a goal is scored when the ball flies totally over a goal line. And each team seeks to score at one end of the field while thwarting their opponent’s attempts from scoring at the other end. How do we know when a valid goal has been scored during a soccer game?

In this article, we discuss how to know when your team has scored a legal goal. The different elements of a goal, and if a goal is acceptable if it does not touch the net.

Keep reading.

Soccer ball toches the line

When Is It A Goal In Soccer?

The guidelines of goal scoring in soccer are followed according to the laid down rules of the International Football Association Board (IFAB). These rules are contained in the ‘Laws of the game’ rulebook.

“A goal is scored when the whole of the ball passes over the goal line, between the goalposts, and under the crossbar, provided that no offense has been committed by the team scoring the goal”. – Law 10 of the FA rules

As seen above, a goal is scored when the whole of the ball crosses over the goal line. However, other conditions must be met before a goal can be allowed.

A soccer ball in front of the goal

They are:

  • The whole of the ball must pass over the goal line for it to be deemed a goal. 

If a little part of an inch of the ball has not crossed the line, then the goal will not be granted.

  • The behavior of the team in the minutes leading to the goal is important. 

Even if the ball has traveled over the goal line, the referee is permitted to assess the behavior of the team and if one of them executed an offensive move shortly before, the goal will be denied.

An instance of this was seen when Fulham was denied a goal because one of their players had used his hands on the ball before the goal was scored.

  • The ball MUST be in play

A lot of people miss this. If the ball is out of the field of play, any goal that is achieved will not be authorized. An example of such an occurrence is Mario Balotelli’s goal in 2013. He scored a saving goal for Milan with his outstanding overhead kick.

Unfortunately for Milan, the ball had passed over the field of play and was no longer in play by the time Balotelli performed his magic kick. This resulted in the goal being duly rejected.

  • In certain situations, the ball’s path is controlled by some kind of interference

It could be that the ball hit the referee, a corner flag, or a goal post. If this happens and the ball remains in the field, it will be considered to be in play. If a ball that is directed into the goal hits a referee and is halted, no goal is scored. However, if the ball hits a referee and goes back into the goal post, the goal will be granted.

  • The player must not intentionally use their hands to score the goal

Until recently, the same was considered for accidental handball. There has always been a lot of debate about the handball rule and its application.

In a recent Premier League game between Fulham and Tottenham Hotspur, Fulham scored a goal that was rejected after one of their players was charged with handling the ball in the 62nd minute. However, the handling was accidental and the buzz from this case caught the attention of IFAB.

Crucially, the association has ruled that: “an accidental handball that leads to a team-mate scoring a goal or having a goal-scoring opportunity will no longer be considered an offense.”

The board acknowledged that they have not been consistent with the handball rule. They also announced that not every contact that a player’s hand/arm has with the ball is a violation of the law.

IFAB also stated that referees should keep using their perception in deducing the legality of the hand/arm’s stance in connection to the player’s action in that particular situation.

So, what then are the actions that violate the handball rule?

A soccer ball and a goal

It has been explained that it is a handball infraction when a player:

  • Intentionally touches the ball with their hand/arm.
  • Touches the ball with their hand or arm when it has made their body unusually larger.

This means that if the position of the player’s hand or arm is not defensible by their body’s motions, it will be assumed that the player intended for their hand to hit the ball. And there is no area for negotiation or accommodation with these laws.

Please note that a goal can not be gotten from a dropped ball, indirect free kick, or a throw-in.

If a player or team administrator is illegally on the field of play when that person’s team scores a goal, the goal will be denied, and a direct free kick will be granted to the opposing side.

If the goalkeeper manages to catch the ball after it has crossed the line, it will still be considered a valid goal as it has fulfilled the first condition of a credible goal.

Where the goalkeeper stands is not important, what takes precedence over this, is the position of the ball.

Another thing to note is that if the ball is considered to still be in the control of the goalkeeper and a player somehow manages to collect It from him and scores a goal, that goal will be disallowed.

Evidence of this rule was shown when Arsenal’s legendary player Thierry Henry “stole” the ball from the Blackburn goalkeeper Brad Friedel and passed it into the net in 2003. Alan Wiley, who was the referee of the match, struck out the goal by arguing that Friedel still had custody of the ball.

Is It A Goal If The Ball Is On The Line? 

The Ball Is On The Line

As we stated earlier, you can only say a goal has been scored when the entire ball goes over the line at the goal post or beneath the crossbar. The exterior of the goal is defined by the edge of the goalposts and crossbar.

If the ball does not completely pass over the plane established by these three bars, the goal will not be conferred. Even if the ball is right there on the line, if it does not completely cross it, then it will not be a valid goal.

During a soccer game, the head referee is given full authority to discern whether a ball fully crosses the plane of the goal. The soccer ball has to extend across the goal line before the ball is out of play or a goal will not be awarded.

There has been a lot of controversy around goals for a while in the soccer world. As a result of the debate and the previous inability to track goal clearances, goal-line technology was brought in.

Goal-line clearances depict the phrase, ‘desperate attempt’ perfectly.

When the goalkeeper neglects to catch the ball and lets it get past him, when it looks like the ball is fated to cross the goal-line and hit the inside of the net, a player suddenly comes to salvage the situation and kicks the ball off the line.

In soccer, that is called a goal-line clearance.

Here are 5 of the best times when the ball was stopped at the moment of truth.

Example 1: John stone’s clearance goal against Liverpool.

Example 2: Neven Subotic sliding goal-line clearance where he cleared the ball off the line before it could cross.

Example 3: Raul Albiol against Sevilla where he managed to keep the ball from crossing the goal line by nudging it with the soles of his boot.

Example 4: This awesome double goal-line clearance can not be forgotten. In 2019, Evgeni Chernov performed two impressive goal-line clearances seconds away from each other at the Russian Premier League.

What is noticeably outstanding is Chernov’s smart reasoning in holding his arms well away from the direction of the shot, which meant that there was no possibility of giving a penalty away.

Example 5: This goal-line clearance happened when Ashley Young slid his feet out of nowhere and stopped Mame Diouf from scoring a goal against his team. His quick response earned him a lot of praise from fans.

LEGENDARY Goal Line Clearances | Premier League Edition

Is It A Goal If The Ball Does Not Touch The Net?

Yes, it is a goal. The fact is that although goal nets are generally connected to the frame of the goal post to catch balls, it is not a prerequisite that the ball must touch the net.

The presence of the net is to assist the referee to easily see a goal. Whether or not the goal-scoring ball touches or hits or goes through the net is irrelevant, as long as it crosses the goal line.

Law 1 of the FIFA Laws of the Game states that a net “maybe” attached to a goal as long as it does not affect the goalkeeper.

That implies that nets are not necessary.

However, goals that get awarded without the ball touching the net are considered controversial.

For instance, Geoff Hurst scored a “netless” goal against West Germany in the 1966 World Cup Final. This goal is deemed to be one of the most questionable goals in the history of soccer.

Another example of a dubious goal where the ball did not hit the net is when Luis Garcia scored against Chelsea in the 2005 Champions League Semifinal.

European Classic: Liverpool 1-0 Chelsea | Garcia goal sees Reds off to Istanbul


Goals have always been a source of debate and strife in the soccer world. Points are won through goals, so every team strives to win as many as possible in each match.

There are a lot of fans who made their voices heard after their favorite teams got “cheated” out of their goals. This brought about the advent of goal-line technology.

An example of one of such events is when Thierry Henry handled the ball in the build-up to the goal that won the World cup for his team. This resulted in Ireland losing the match, and this scandal resulted in a lot of conspiracy theories against FIFA.

Another instance is when El Salvador’s Luis Tejada got praised for this rather inconclusive goal against Panama in the 2011 Gold Cup quarterfinals. Was it a goal or not?

Remember, one inch can mean the difference between a victory goal or a tied game. A soccer ball must be totally across the line for it to be counted as a valid goal.