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Why Can Soccer End In A Tie?

Why Can Soccer End In A Tie?

Soccer is a game of wits and strength and we have mentioned this a couple of times before. To edge an opponent, the coach has to watch the style of play of their opponent and come up with a counter style that will capitalize on their weakness.

One of the telltale signs that two soccer teams are fairly matched is that fewer goals are scored. In fact, sometimes no goals are scored by either side.

There are also times when a team will score one or more goals and after a few changes from the coach the losing team makes a comeback to equalize the game. This always keeps the spectators in a frenzy and makes the huge sum they paid to get into the stadium worth it.

When fans pay to watch a game, they are often anticipating their team to win. However, there are some cases where the game ends in a tie.

Well, this may be confusing to some people that are new to the game because not all forms of soccer accept ties. So, why can soccer end in a tie and what are the circumstances that can lead to a game being tied?

Today, we are going to answer all your questions pertaining to why soccer can end in a tie as well as mention the types of soccer that don’t obey this rule.

Why can soccer end in a tie?

Non-competitive soccer games like a friendly match between two countries or clubs can end in a tie if at the end of the 90 minutes of gameplay plus extra time the goal tally remains the same between the two teams.

However, a competitive tournament can also end in a tie depending on the stage of the tournament. In league games, when there is a tie, each of the teams will earn a point each.

In indoor soccer, a game can end in a tie or a draw during regular season games. However, ties are not allowed during tournament games. Tournament games can only end in a win or a loss.

In tournament games, when there is a tie at the end of regular time, the referee will give an additional 5 minutes of sudden death extra period. If the tie persists at the end of the extra period, the game will go into penalties—and the penalty kick will continue until there is a winner.

Just like indoor soccer, ties are not allowed in beach soccer too. If the goal tallies between the two teams remain the same at the end of regular time, the referee will give 3 minutes of extra time.

If at the end of the three-minute period there is still no winner, the game-winner will be decided by penalty kicks. Starting with five selected players, the penalty kicks will continue until one of the teams leads by one point.

the penalty situation is about to take place

In futsal, regular season matches that end in a tie or draw will remain that way and the referee will not award overtime—both teams will get a point each. However, playoff matches that end in a tie will proceed into overtime and possibly penalties to decide the winner.

The problem with ties is that it often leads to teams having the same points on the league or tournament standings. When this happens, the number of goals scored or conceded will be used as a tie-breaker to either decide the league winners or the team that goes into the next round of the tournament.

So, one of two things happens when the game ends in a tie.

  • The game ends and both teams are awarded a point each. This usually happens in leagues matches and in the group stages of tournaments
  • The game goes into extra time and possibly penalties to decide the winner
  • Replaying the game after a week. Prior to the coronavirus pandemic, an FA Cup tie is usually replayed after a week. However, from the 2020/21 season, when there is a tie in the FA cup, the game goes straight into penalties to decide the winner.

It is estimated that on average, 14 to 30 percent of Association Football games end in a tie or draw. Some of the instances where soccer can end in a tie without requiring further actions include;

Man City Highlights | Liverpool 2-2 Man City | Foden, De Bruyne, Mane, Salah | Premier League

1. League games

A league game is a marathon and not a sprint. The 20 teams that usually take part in the league play a total of 38 matches.

The team continues to amass points as they play and the team with the most points at the end of the 38 games wins the league cup. For this reason, leagues have a point system where the winner gets 3 points, the loser gets no point, and when there is a tie both teams will share 1 point each.

Celta Vigo vs Barcelona [3-3], La Liga 2021/22 - MATCH REVIEW

2. Group stages of tournaments

Whether it is the World Cup tournament or the continental tournament, the group stages always run like a regular league season. The participating countries in each tournament are grouped in fours.

Consequently, every country will play three games to decide who tops the group. Similar to what you will find in a regular Premier League season, the winner of each game will get three points.

The loser will get no point. When the game ends in a draw, both teams will earn a point each. The first two teams after the points have been tallied will go into the knockout round.

Once a soccer tournament has headed into the knockout stages, ties are no longer accepted. When one occurs, the game will go into extra time and possibly penalties to determine the winner.

3. Friendly games

As the name suggests, friendly games are usually unofficial games organized by two teams—usually as a way of preparing their players for a major tournament. The rules of friendly games are usually slightly different.

More substitutions are allowed and the game can end in a tie. When a friendly game ends in a tie, no further action is required since the purpose of these games is not really to have any winner—a win or a loss makes no difference besides giving the winning team a bragging right.

A Friendly soccer game of the children

Are there any benefits of having ties in soccer?

Whether a soccer game ends goalless or three or more goals on each side, it is still considered a tie or draw. However, a goalless draw or one goal apiece appears to be the most common form of tie recorded in most soccer games.

While many fans still wonder why soccer ends in a tie rather than have one team win outright, there are some benefits that we can identify from the tie scoring system. The most important benefits of a tie in soccer are as follows;

1. Gives smaller teams a chance against bigger ones

It is not a secret that richer teams will easily have the edge over the smaller ones if all the games should end in a win. Perhaps, this also explains why the World Cup has never been won by an underdog.

However, with the tie system of scoring, when smaller teams square up with bigger ones, they can adjust their play style and technique into a defensive format to try to at least get a point from the game. In fact, smaller teams usually see getting a point when facing a big team as a win—and this does a lot of good to the psychology of the players.

Inside Anfield: Liverpool 2-2 Brighton | Henderson & Mane on target, but Reds held at home

2. Reward exceptional performance

Soccer fans turn on their televisions or troop to the stadium to watch their favorite team play with the optimism that they will win. However, there are times when the two teams play so exceptionally well that one team winning will just be unfair to the other.

If such games that produce spectacular and entertaining cheers end in a draw, even the fans will have little or no reason to complain because they really enjoyed themselves.

3. Encourages the players to put in more effort

If soccer games only ended in a win or loss, smaller teams will always feel discouraged when they square off against a bigger team. In fact, some of the players may have the mindset that since losing is inevitable there is no need to expend much of their energies.

However, with the thought that if they put in their best they can draw the game, the smaller team will always come out on the pitch and fight to the last. Also, it makes a losing team keep fighting during a game with the hope of stealing a last-minute point.

Likewise, the winning team will try to preserve their lead by keeping up the tempo to prevent the opponents from drawing the game. The idea that the opponent can score and bring the game to a draw often pushes a team to aim for more goals even when they are winning.


4. Makes it easier to time the duration of a game

There is a popular saying that ‘Time is the currency of life’ or ‘Time is money’. Either way, those that are time conscious will always prefer a game that they can predict how long it will last.

Soccer games that must have a winner often stretch beyond 120 minutes when you add the 90 minutes regular time, the 30 minutes extra time, and the 15 minutes break.

Television stations that have stipulated program times can experience severe disruption in their programing schedule when the game stretches beyond their anticipation.

However, for games that can end in a tie, they know the game should not usually exceed 110 minutes when you add the 90 minutes of regular play, the 15 minutes break, and possible injury-time resulting from in-game stoppages.


In the 2019/20 season of the Premier League, there are a total of 184 ties or draws. This translates to 24.2% or about a quarter of all the matches in the entire season.

This shows you how frequent ties happen in soccer. The statistics may be quite different if you go back to 15 or 20 years.

While a tie is not something that a fan of a big team would want to see, it is totally satisfying for those on the lower end. Also, the increasing number of ties in the Premier League, for example, shows how much the league has grown.

In the past, it was easy to predict the direction a game will go once you look at the composition of the teams. However, that is no longer the case as underdogs are pulling up surprises against the heavyweights.

It is always heartbreaking to see an underdog team struggle so hard to keep the game tied only to lose at the penalty shootout. Well, in a tournament the trophy can only be won by one team which makes tie-breakers understandable.