One of football's great grey areas -- and one which is not even mentioned in the current Laws of the Game -- comes under examination in the April edition of FIFA Magazine: the definition of an Own Goal.
The Laws of the Game at present speak only of the ball being put into the net by the attacking side. And yet own goals have been a feature of the game since it began.
In the 15 editions of the World Cup to date, a total of 18 goals have been recorded as own goals - including that by Berti Vogts in the match in which Austria eliminated West Germany in the 1978 finals in Argentina. Vogts says in FIFA Magazine: "Maybe it wasn't an own goal in the classic sense, because that needs the player to be completely responsible for his own action - but I still can't complain that this one went down in all the records as an own goal."
In a feature analysing valid goals most frequently registered as own goals, FIFA Magazine puts forward a definition which may not always conform to current practice in some countries. A series of specially commissioned illustrations show the most common own goal situations, ranging from the straightforward mis-hit backpass to the ball rebounding from the goalpost against the back of the diving goalkeeper and into the net.
The feature concludes, among other points, that although it is not among his official duties, it is the referee who should decide whether a goal is an own goal or not, depending upon the incident and the flight of the ball; a defender must be deliberately involved in the incident to concede an own goal; a forward must always be assumed to be seeking to score and, logical as it may seem but still contrary to occasional practice in some countries, a forward cannot be registered as the scorer simply by putting a defender under pressure but without touching the ball.
Note to editors: FIFA Magazine is due to be distributed to regular subscribers this week (commencing Monday 14 April). The illustrations contained in the own goal article (also available through FIFA On-LINE at http://www.fifa.com) may be reproduced for non-commercial purposes, quoting the source and the name of the artist.