An own goal occurs in 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. It is considered one of the most embarrassing and humorous blunders in sports.

The term has become a metaphor for any action that backfires upon a person.[1] During The Troubles it acquired a specific metaphorical meaning to refer to an Improvised explosive device that detonated early killing the person who was making or planting the bomb.[2]

Association football

In association football, an own goal occurs when a player causes the ball to go into his or her own team's goal, resulting in a goal being scored for the opposition.

The fact that the defending player touches the ball last does not automatically mean that the goal is recorded as an own goal. Only if the ball would not have gone in the net but for the defending player would an own goal be credited. Thus a shot which is already "on target" would not be an own goal even if deflected by the defender. Then 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. The Laws of the Game do not stipulate any rules or procedures for to which players goals are credited, indeed such records are not a compulsory part of the game.

The defending player who scored the own goal is personally "credited" with the goal as part of the statistical abstract of the game. The credit is annotated "(og)" to indicate its nature.

The Laws stipulate that an own goal cannot be scored directly (i.e., without any other player touching the ball) from a throw-in, free kick (direct or indirect), corner kick, dropped ball or goal kick. Should the any of these situations occur, a corner kick is instead awarded to the attacking team.

Since football is a world game, the term "own goal" is widely known around the world.

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; this is because own goals in hockey are typically cases where the player so credited had his/her shot deflected, but this convention is used even where this isn't actually the case. 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 directed the puck into their own empty net, either late in the game or because of a delayed penalty call. This was the situation which resulted in Billy Smith of the New York Islanders becoming the first goalie to receive credit for a goal in the NHL. In some parts of Canada, an own goal is referred to as a limoges. The term is believed to have originated in New Brunswick (approx. 1970) and has become more common in the greater Toronto region starting in the 1990s.

Field hockey

If a goal is scored by a player on the defending team, as of September 2012 it is treated as if the defending player played the ball over the back line. If the ball was played over the back line unintentionally, or off the goalkeeper, a long corner is awarded to the opposing team. If the ball was played over the back line deliberately, then a penalty corner is awarded to the opposing team.

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced that in its 2012 rules revision, that from 1 January 2013, a "mandatory experiment" will be introduced in which if the ball touches or is played by a player of the defending team in the shooting circle, and then travels over the goal line without first leaving the circle, then it will be counted as an "own goal" against the defending team.[3]


When accidentally scoring at an opposing team's basket (basketball's equivalent of an "own goal"), the goal is credited to an offensive player.

In NCAA basketball, the rules state: "When a player scores a field goal in the opponent’s basket, it shall count two points for the opponent regardless of the location on the playing court from where it was released. Such a field goal shall not be credited to a player in the scorebook but shall be indicated with a footnote."

In NBA rules, the goal is credited to the player on the scoring team who is closest to defensive shooter and is mentioned in a footnote.

Under FIBA rules, the player designated captain is credited with the basket. In NFHS (National Federation of High Schools—United States), the two points are merely listed for the team, as a footnote.

American 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. In Canadian football, if this occurs as a result of a kick, the kicking team is awarded one point, scored as a single, or "rouge". A true "own goal", in which the team place kicks or drop kicks the ball through their own goal posts (which has never happened at any level in football history), is treated as any other backward kick in most leagues' rule books. Backward kicks are treated as fumbles, and as such, a backward kick through the back of the end zone, including through the goal posts, would be scored a safety.

In the final minutes of a game, a team may take a deliberate safety in order to get the free kick, rather than punting from the end zone. In 2003, the New England Patriots came back to win a Monday Night Football game after giving a safety that put them three points behind.[4]

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 association football. However, they are known to occur, such as one scored by Paddy Andrews in a 2009 O'Byrne Cup match.[5] 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

Main article: rushed behind

As a legitimate defensive play, an Australian rules 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 scoring one point. A defending player may choose to concede a rushed behind when the risk of the opposition scoring a goal (worth six points) is high. It is impossible for a team to concede an own goal worth six points.

Notable own goals

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

Association football

Ice hockey

  • On 18 April 2010, in game 3 of the conference quarterfinals between the San Jose Sharks and the Colorado Avalanche, Colorado's Ryan O'Reilly scored when San Jose defenceman Dan Boyle attempted a pass from an improbable angle to goaltender Evgeni Nabokov, which was intended for Joe Thornton. Nabokov, who was totally unprepared for a shot on goal, froze as the puck slid between his legs. This gave Colorado a 2–1 series lead. San Jose ultimately won the series, 4–2.
  • On 18 March 2010, Greg Westlake of the Canada men's national ice sledge hockey team missed his defenceman on a pass in the offensive end while trying to tie the game in the last minute of the 2010 Paralympics semi-final, and sent the puck into the empty Canadian net.[32]
  • On 24 November 2008, Ryan O'Byrne of the Montreal Canadiens shot the puck into an empty net as Montreal's goaltender Carey Price had left the ice for an extra attacker on a delayed penalty to the New York Islanders. This goal tied the game, 3–3, and the Islanders ultimately won the game in a shootout.
  • Goaltender Marc-André Fleury of the Pittsburgh Penguins had a shot from Henrik Zetterberg of the Detroit Red Wings go between his legs and stop short of the goal in the third period of Game 6 of the 2008 Stanley Cup Finals. Believing the puck was loose behind him (which it was), he fell backward to cover the puck, and accidentally pushed it into the goal, giving the Red Wings what turned out to be the game- and Stanley Cup-winning goal. This was the second year in a row that the cup winning goal was an own goal scored by a goaltender.[33]
  • On June 6, 2007, during Game 5 of the 2007 Stanley Cup Final against the Anaheim Ducks, Chris Phillips, defenceman for the Ottawa Senators, tossed the puck into the skates of Senator goaltender Ray Emery and the puck was deflected into the net in the second period. The goal made it a 3–1 lead for the Ducks and would stand up as the Stanley Cup championship clinching goal for the Ducks. Travis Moen was credited as the goal scorer, despite having left the ice shortly before the goal was scored.
  • On April 27, 2004, during 2004 Men's World Ice Hockey Championships, Danish forward Morten Green scored when his pass was intercepted by Japanese player Nobuhiro Sugawara, who deflected the puck into his own goal. The result of this game determined their final standing in Group C of the Championships.
  • Sergei Gonchar, another NHL defenceman, not only deflected his own un-pressured outlet pass off the back of Olaf Kölzig's skate on November 14, 2003 while a member of the Washington Capitals, but redirected an opposition player's cross-ice pass five-hole on Marc-André Fleury on November 13, 2006 as a Pittsburgh Penguin.
  • Defenceman Marc Bergevin of the St. Louis Blues grabbed the puck and accidentally threw it into his own net during the 2000 Stanley Cup Playoffs. This act tied Game 2 at 1–1 and the Blues went on to lose the game, 4–2, to the San Jose Sharks. Ultimately, the Sharks upset the Presidents Trophy-winning Blues by taking the series, 4–3.[34]
  • The Detroit Red Wings' Paul Coffey accidentally swiped the puck into the Wings' own net during Game 1 of the 1996 Western Conference Finals against the Colorado Avalanche. The goal proved costly as it forced the Wings to tie the game late to force overtime, where they would eventually lose. Colorado won the series 4–2 and later went onto win the 1996 Stanley Cup Finals.
  • In his rookie season, Steve Smith, an NHL defenceman, accidentally scored on his own net against the defending Stanley Cup champion Edmonton Oilers in the 1986 NHL Divisional Finals. In the third period of the seventh and deciding game against the arch-rival Calgary Flames, with the score tied, 2–2, he attempted a pass from behind his own net that hit goaltender Grant Fuhr and deflected into the net. The goal, credited to Calgary forward Lanny McDonald, stood up as the game winner and eliminated the Oilers from the possibility of a three-peat. Edmonton went on to win the Stanley Cup again in 1987 and 1988.
  • 1:31 into Game Two of the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals, Marc-Edouard Vlasic of the San Jose Sharks put what would be the game-winning goal into his own net against the St. Louis Blues. The goal was credited to Vladimir Sobotka. Sobotka had shot the puck from the blue line. Sharks goalie Antti Niemi made the save, but Vlasic put it into the net when trying to clear the puck from the front of the net. The Blues would win the game, 3–0.


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 offensive player will be awarded the basket, as mentioned above.

American Football

  • On October 25, 1964, in a game against the San Francisco 49ers, Minnesota Viking Jim Marshall recovered a fumble and ran 66 yards with it the wrong way into his own end zone. Thinking that he had scored a touchdown for the Vikings, Marshall then threw the ball away in celebration. The ball landed out of bounds, resulting in a safety for the 49ers. Despite this gaffe, the Vikings won the game, 27–22.[35]


  • During the 2007–08 Men's EuroFloorball Cup Finals, the 5th place match featured three own goals. Finnish team SSV Helsinki would score two own goals during regulation time, but would still go on to win the match as their opponents, Swiss team SV Wiler-Ersigen, would score an own goal 15 seconds into sudden victory overtime.


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