What is Sudden Death in Football?

what is sudden death in football

Football is the most popular sport globally and it has millions of fans. So of course like every other sport, even football has its own set of rules and regulations in order to maintain fairness and equity between every player. The governing body of FIFA introduced the concept of sudden death back in the 90s to achieve its goal of having one winning team. 

The 1990s brought about some of the greatest transitions in football’s history. While some great changes were made to football’s revenue, a few changes were also made to the rulebook. Today, we are here to talk about sudden death in football and what it means. 

What is the Sudden Death Rule?

Many other sports use the sudden death rule to decide the winner of a match, but in football, this rule is more popular by another name—the golden goal. The golden goal rule applies when a match ends in a draw and the winner of the match needs to be determined. 

According to this rule, when the game goes into extra time after ending in a draw, the winner of the game will be the team that is able to score the first and the only goal during the extra time.

Golden Goal Rule History

Before FIFA brought this system into the senior international clashes that took place at the Confederations Cup and Olympics, around the early 1990s, they were already putting the golden goal system on trial during the youth matches. According to the records, the first-ever official golden goal took place in the quarter-final match between Uruguay and Australia during the 1993 World Youth Championship. On the 13th of March of 1993, we saw the first golden goal ever.

In the European Championship during ‘96, the golden goal rule was the decisive factor when the Czech Republic lost against Germany due to the goal from Oliver Bierhoff. The MLS Cup also saw the first use of this golden goal system in 1996. 

The very first World Cup to use this rule was the 1998 World Cup in France. France benefited from this rule against Paraguay during the last 16. Paul Tait was the first player in FIFA’s history to score a golden goal during a major competition in the 1995/1996 season. 

Fast-forward to Euro 2000, and we saw France win against Italy with a golden goal scored by David Trezeguet. The 2002 World Cup also saw Senegal win against Sweden with a golden goal. In fact, there were three different golden goals seen during the 2002 FIFA World Cup. Ilhan Mansız scored the final official golden goal in the 2002 FIFA World Cup during the Turkey versus Senegal quarter-final match.

However, the problem was that this new golden goal rule enforced by the FIFA association was not actually working the way they intended it to. Their intention was to make the game more fun for the viewers, with lots of attacking and aggression moving into extra time while also keeping the game fair for the players. What ended up happening was that both the teams focused more on their defense if the game went into extra time due to a draw. The rule made the players more worried about suddenly conceding a goal instead of being encouraged to go in for the attack.

Is the Golden Goal Still in Use?

The directive of a sudden death system has been abandoned by FIFA at least in their official matches. Everyone could tell this rule would eventually face its downfall. In 2004 we saw another new rule called the Silver Goal, which suffered just as badly. Both these systems ended up being permanently abandoned. 

After the elimination of both the golden goal and the silver goal, during the FIFA World Cup of 2006, we saw the comeback of the classic extra time with the 30-minute format. If there is a draw then during the extra time, the game was divided into two halves of 15 minutes each. 

What is the Reason Behind Golden Goal being Abandoned

The initial plan by the governing bodies of the FIFA association was to create an end game that had a more active and aggressive play. This was mainly about keeping the audience more engaged with the game, especially around the end so everyone could be on the edge of their seats. While it seemed like a good plan on paper, it did not work out the same way in practical matches. 

Instead of both teams playing more aggressively to get the winning goal, they developed a more cautious play style. Of course, you would not want to come so close to winning and lose because you conceded one goal. This system made the players on the losing team more enraged. 

Moreover, there was a lot of uncertainty concerning the selection of events that could be chosen from the various extra-time options that were available. This system was eliminated from major competitions following the 2002 FIFA World Cup due to worries about excessively defensive play and also extra times that were completely unnecessary.

When was the End of the Sudden Death system?

Both the silver goal and the golden goal systems were abandoned by the International Football Association Board, IFAB, back in February of 2004. This ruling system was not producing the expected results and instead caused more difficulties that were becoming hard to address and handle. 

Ever since Golden Goal or the sudden death system was abolished, matches that end in a draw go into a 30-minute extra time that is divided into two halves. Even if a goal is not scored in the first half the game will continue till the end of the second half during the extra time. If the extra time also ends in a draw then the winner of the game is decided by a penalty shootout.

Final Words 

While the Golden Goal or Sudden Death rule had its fans, it was a system that needed to be eliminated due to the many hindrances that came along with it. This system is no longer used in any official FIFA match. You will now only be able to enjoy the invention of this rule when you play the FIFA game with your friends!