The 118th Annual General Meeting of the International Football Association Board (IFAB) at the end of February brought about a minor revolution in the football world, when the golden goal rule was abandoned in favour of a return to the previous system. The change has provoked a wide range of reactions amongst coaches and media the world over. During its ten-year reign, the golden goal provided some spectacular dénouements to the top international competitions. FIFA.com takes a look back at its past.
Few of football’s regulations have been subject to more tinkering than Law 10 of the Laws of the Game. In 1993, it underwent what amounted to a major overhaul, as the possibility of instant elimination was brought into the equation. Previously, stalemate in a game had resulted in a fixed 30-minute period of extra-time during which any number of goals could be scored, with the team in the lead at the end winning the match. If the scores remained level, the victor was decided by a penalty shootout.
The so-called “golden goal” rule was an entirely new animal, whereby extra-time was terminated as soon as a goal was scored and that team declared the winner. If neither team managed to score, the dreaded penalty shootout came into play once more. Eventually, the IFAB decided to revert to the old system.
The change has led to numerous reactions from around the world, with press, players and coaches queuing up to deliver their verdict on the famous golden goal. The overwhelming feeling was one of relief to be returning to the traditional format, as the main criticism levelled at the golden goal is encapsulated in its nickname of “sudden death”. For if truth be told, many found the principle too cruel a blow for the beaten team. From Ottmar Hitzfeld to Inaki Saez, from La Gazzetta dello Sport to Diario Olé, countless interviews and column inches have been devoted to the subject.
What is beyond dispute, however, is that the golden goal has provided world football with its fair share of magic moments, bestowing joy and pain in equal measure. The French have been particular beneficiaries, while the Italians have fallen foul of the initiative in different competitions. From the first-ever golden goal in a major tournament bagged by Oliver Bierhoff to the last netted by Thierry Henry, these unforgettable instants have left an indelible impression on the game.