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An own goal occurs in association football and other goal-scoring games when a player scores a goal that is registered against his or her own team. It is usually accidental, and may be a result of an attempt at defensive play that failed or was spoiled by opponents.

The term has become a metaphor for any action that backfires upon a person.

Association football

In association football, when players kick or otherwise cause the ball to go into their own side's goal, it results in a goal being scored for the opposition.

An own goal cannot be scored directly from an attacking throw-in or a defending free kick (a corner kick will be awarded to the attacking team if so should happen), and under certain other circumstances, for example, directly from a corner kick.

The player who caused the ball to go into their own goal is personally "credited" with the goal as part of the statistical abstract of the game unless a goal is scored after a shot (by the attacking side) is deflected into the net by a defending player. In that case, officials determine if the original shot was on target. If so, the attacker is awarded the goal, even if the shot would have otherwise been easily saved by the goalkeeper. Some scorers will give credit to the attacker if the defender's mistake caused the own goal, similar to ice hockey.

Other sports

When they occur in other sports, own goals are not "credited" in the same manner as in football, but instead credited towards the attacker whose attempt forced the defensive error.

Ice hockey

If a goal is scored by a player on the defending team, credit for the goal goes to the last player on the other team to have touched the puck, mainly to the belief that the player credited with the goal had his/her shot deflected. Occasionally, it is also credited to the closest player to the goal from the other team if he is determined to have caused the opposing player to shoot it into the wrong net. On seven occasions in the NHL, players have shot the puck into their own empty net, either late in the game or because of a delayed penalty call, resulting in one of the two ways in which a goalie is credited with a goal. This was the situation which resulted in Billy Smith of the New York Islanders as the first netminder receiving credit with a NHL goal scored.


When accidentally scoring at an opposing team's basket (basketball's equivalent of an "own goal"), the goal is credited to an attacking player. In NBA and NCAA rules, the goal is credited to the player on the scoring team who is closest to the rim. Under FIBA rules, the player designated captain is credited with the basket.

American and Canadian football

When a ball-carrier is tackled or exits the field of play within the end zone being defended by his team, the result is a safety and the opposing team is awarded two points, and receives the ball after a free kick taken at the twenty-yard line.

Gaelic football

Gaelic footballers can play the ball with their hands; therefore, they have a much greater degree of control over the ball and thus, own goals are much rarer than they are in soccer. However, they are known to occur, such as one scored by Paddy Andrews in a 2009 O'Byrne Cup match. It is common for a defender or goalkeeper to block a shot on goal, causing it to go over the crossbar, scoring a point, but this is never considered an "own point".

Australian rules football

As a legitimate defensive play, an Australian football defender may concede an "own score." Such a score, referred to as a rushed behind and statistically credited to no player (scoresheets will simply include the tally of rushed behinds), results in the opposition team earning one point.

A defending player will choose to concede a rushed behind when the risk of the opposition scoring a goal (worth six points) is high. The team which concedes the rushed behind then retains possession of the ball, kicking in as normal.

It is impossible for a team to concede an "own goal" worth six points. In this way, Australian football separates itself from the other codes in this page, as teams may only score goals from their own efforts in attack, rather than benefiting from an opponent's blunder.

Many football observers dislike the practice of deliberate rushed behinds. The two main issues are that: defenders are given too easy an option of alleviating pressure in defence, and; the defending team is then given control of the ball via the kick-in. The idea of a rushed behind registering three points (awarded on the scoreboard as three behinds) instead of just one has been trialled in the NAB Cup, and the idea of awarding a free kick to the opposition was trialled in the 2009 NAB Cup. After the 2009 NAB Cup, the rule of awarding a free kick for a deliberate rushed behind, unless under pressure from the opposing team, was immediately implemented for regular season play.

Notable own goals

Many notable instances in sports where players scored on their own goal.

Association football

Ice hockey


  • Trailing by three points in a 1971 NBA game against the Portland Trail Blazers, Cleveland Cavaliers player John Warren went on a fast break and dunked the ball in Cleveland's net. Instead of being down only three, they were now down by 5, and would go on to lose the game.
  • It is not unheard of in the NBA for a basketball to ricochet off the body of a defender and be angled into the basket. In this case, the closest player will be awarded the basket, as mentioned above.



  2. An Identity Stuck in the Swamps of New Jersey - New York Times

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