A Goal in Soccer: What It Is, The rules, And It’s Worth

As everyone knows, there is one thing that is central to winning soccer games, and that is scoring goals.

It is undoubtedly one of the most important things in the entire game, and while most people know this, a lot of people don't fully understand what a goal is. Soccer fans included. 

You might think that a goal simply consists of kicking a ball into a goal. While this plays a big part in scoring goals, there is a lot of other information behind the scenes that define a goal.

A Goal in Soccer: What It Is, The rules, And It’s Worth

So if you’ve celebrated your team scoring, only to see that goal disallowed moments later, you are in the right place.

In this guide, we’re taking a look at all the different definitions of what a goal is, and the rules that dictate whether or not a goal is scored. So if you want to find out more about goals, then keep on reading. 

What is the definition of a goal?

Before we take a look at the different rules that make the difference between a goal being allowed or disallowed, let’s take a look at some of the definitions behind a “goal”.

If you are reading this, you might be wondering how there can be more than one definition for this, but that is because there are two important components in football that are referred to as a “goal”. 

This first is, of course, the goal that you will immediately think of. This type of goal is scored by a soccer player when they hit the ball (with either their feet or head) over the goal line.

The ball must pass the goal line between the goalposts and beneath the crossbar for this to count as a goal. 

The second component in football that is often called a “goal” is the goalposts. This “goal” is defined as a frame that is found on either end of the soccer field.

This frame consists of two upward posts and a crossbar on top which connects the two vertical posts to one another.

This frame is commonly covered with a net to form the goalposts which the attacking players aim for when they are attempting to score goals. 

As you can tell, both of these definitions are very different, and yet the word is used to describe them both.

Despite this, both of these definitions are important in discussing a goal in soccer, so we will be taking a look at them both. But let’s start with the goal that you score. 

Scoring a Goal 

Before we take a look at the goalposts, let’s take a look at the type of goal that you score. There is no doubt that scoring a goal is exciting, for both the player doing it and the fans watching on. 

When you are watching a game, there is nothing better than the moment when one of the attacking players hits that ball and it goes flying directly into the back of the net.

This is made even more exciting when it is that goal that will win the game for your team. Or when you are the player who is scoring the goal yourself. 

If you are an avid soccer fan, then the chances are that on more than one occasion you will have witnessed a goal being disallowed.

When this happens it is like a sucker-punch in the stomach, especially when it takes a couple of minutes for the officials to decide that this goal is not sound.

From the sidelines, it can often be difficult to understand why this goal has been revoked from your team.

After all, it went over the line and hit the back of the net without the goalkeeper stopping it, so why should it be taken away? 

There are a variety of reasons why a referee may disallow a goal, but they are all supported by one thing, and that is the rules.

There are a lot of rules surrounding goals in soccer which can also be perceived as a lot of reasons why a goal may be disallowed.

Not all fans are very clued up on the rules surrounding goals in soccer, so let’s take a look at some of the key points in the rule book surrounding the scoring of goals. 

The Rules 

So now that we’ve taken a look at what defines scoring a goal, it’s time to take a look at the rules behind it.

As with any sport, soccer comes with an entire rule book that dictates every single moment of the game. 

It is the referee’s job to know this rule book inside out so that they can call out players when they do something wrong and explain why they have made the decisions they make. 

The official soccer rule book defines a goal in the same way as the definition that we looked at earlier and says that a goal is scored when the entire ball passes over the goal line at the same time as passing between the goalposts and under the crossbar. 

However, it adds an extra sentence as it states that a goal being scored is also dependent on the fact that no offense has been committed by the team that is scoring the goal in the moments or moment immediately before the ball passes the goal line.

It is this additional sentence that sums up the rules surrounding goals being scored successfully or unsuccessfully. 

As you can see, we have highlighted the key points in these sentences, but let’s take a deeper look at them. 

The first thing that must be noted is that the entire ball must pass over the line.

This is something that often causes anger among soccer fans, especially with the introduction of enhanced technology, such as the VAR in the English Premier League. 

As the rules state that the entire ball must pass over the goal line, a goal can be disallowed by the referee if a single millimeter of that ball does not cross the goal line. 

In modern-day soccer, this is usually picked up by technology as it would be impossible for the referee to see if the ball missed the goal by a fraction of a centimeter.

This is what angers soccer fans as you are now seeing goals be disallowed or not awarded when before this technology they would have classed as a good goal.

The second thing that we need to note from the definition is that a goal requires no offense to be made by the scoring team immediately before the ball hits the net.

With the enhanced technology that has been introduced to soccer, it is now much easier for the referee and linesmen to spot if any foul play has occurred.

This means that even if the ball has passed the goal line in the correct area, the referee can still disallow the goal if one of the attacking players that helped set up that goal did something wrong. 

Again, this is something that is another source of anger for fans watching, but the rules are the rules and there is absolutely no compromise on them.

But if the goal enters the net in the correct area and no offenses are committed immediately before then the goal must be allowed.

The only time that a goal can meet these criteria but not be allowed is if the goalkeeper on one team manages to throw the ball into the opposition’s net. 

But as you will expect from the size of the field, this very rarely happens. So now that we’ve looked at the rules and definitions surrounding scoring a goal, let’s take a look at the definition of the goalposts. 

The Goal Posts

So now that we’ve taken a good look at scoring a goal, let’s take a look at the second definition, the one about the goalposts. 

It doesn’t take a soccer fan to know that the goalposts are the frames that are located on either side of the soccer field.

In fact, if you only know one thing about soccer, it is probably about the goalposts. They are the first thing you notice when you look at a soccer pitch, and it is clear that these frames play a big part in the game. 

Most commonly, the goalposts will be painted white to ensure that a lot of the focus in the game is on these frames.

Just like there are a lot of rules surrounding the scoring of a goal, there are also a lot of rules surrounding the other “goals”, the goalposts.

These rules surround the location of the goalposts and also their appearance, so let’s take a look at some of the most important points. 

One very important thing is that the goalpost is placed on the center of the goal line on both sides of the field.

It should be firmly attached to the ground and can also include a net if you wish, however this net should not interfere with the goalkeeper. 

Additionally, the goal post must consist of two vertical posts joined by a horizontal crossbar, with an inside distance of 8 yards between the two vertical posts.

It should also have a distance between the crossbar and the ground below it of 8 feet and must be white with the same width and depth the entire way through the frame. 

As long as the goalposts meet all the criteria that we have outlined above then they can be used in a soccer game.

The definition suggests that a lot of teams choose to not use a net in their goalposts, but this is actually very rare.

Most teams will use nets as it means the ball is stopped when it enters the net, so the speed of the game will not be slowed down by the goalkeeper having to chase after the ball. 

Defining a Goal’s Worth

Finally, let’s take a look at how the worth of a goal is defined in the soccer world. Different sports have different scoring systems that impact the number of points that are awarded. 

In football, the scoring system is very simple as one goal is the equivalent of one point for the team that scored.

This makes it incredibly easy to tell whether or not your team is winning as the number of goals scored will match the number of points that are on the board.

At the end of the game, the number of points is then added up, and the team with the most points is the winner. If both teams have equal points then it is declared a draw. 

Whether the team has won, lost, or drawn will have a direct impact on their position within the league that they are playing in.

In some sports, this is where following your team can become complex, but in football it is simple.

If a team wins a game then they are awarded 3 points, if a team has drawn then both them and the opposing team is awarded 1 point each, and if a team loses they are awarded 0 points. 

Throughout the season the point total of each team will change depending on the number of wins/losses they get, but in the end, the team with the most points wins.

In the same way that the team with the most goals wins the match. 


In short, after reading this, you will know absolutely everything there is to know about goals from what they are to what they are worth, there is nothing left to learn. 

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