An own goal is when a player scores in their own team's net or scoring area, not the opposing team's, during sports games in which points scored are referred to as "goals" (e.g., association football). An own goal is usually accidental, but is counted as a regular goal. It may result from an attempt at a defensive play that either failed or was unexpectedly intercepted by an opposing player. It is considered to be one of the more embarrassing blunders in all of sports.
In some parts of the world, the term has become a metaphor for any action that backfires on the person/group undertaking it, sometimes even carrying a sense of "poetic justice". During The Troubles, for instance, it acquired a specific metaphorical meaning: referring to an IED (improvised explosive device) that detonated prematurely, killing the very person making or handling the bomb with the intent to harm only others. In February 1996, the death of Edward O'Brien in such an incident was followed by an article in The Independent entitled "Terrorists killed by their own devices".
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 past the goal-line 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. In this case 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 crediting goals to players, and 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 any of these situations occur, a corner kick is instead awarded to the attacking team.
Defenders often "turn behind" dangerous balls into the penalty area, particularly crosses, by kicking or heading the ball out of play behind their goal-line. In this way, the defender's aim is to concede a corner rather than giving attacking players scoring opportunities. Consequently, the defender may misjudge and inadvertently turn the ball into his own goal, particularly if he is under pressure from attacking players who might otherwise score.
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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.
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 the shot deflected, but this convention is used even where this is not 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. Occasionally 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 goaltender 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 (approximately 1970) and became more common in the greater Toronto region starting in the 1990s.
How "own goals" are treated in field hockey has varied over recent years. In 2013 the International Hockey Federation (FIH) implemented a "mandatory experiment" such that a deflection of a shot from outside the shooting circle from a defender would be equivalent to a touch from an attacker, and thus if the shot continued into the goal the score would be counted. However this proved unpopular and the change was reversed.
Presently rule 8.1 states that "A goal is scored when the ball is played within the circle by an attacker and does not travel outside the circle before passing completely over the goal-line and under the crossbar. " with the added clarification that "The ball may be played by a defender or touch their body before or after being played in the circle by an attacker" Thus, an "own goal" may occur, but in such situations the goal will likely be credited to the attacker whose initial play into the circle was necessary for the goal to stand.
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 NFHS basketball, the two points are merely listed for the scoring team, as a footnote.
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.
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. (This does not apply if the ball carrier secures possession of the ball in the end zone as a result of an interception or a kick; in that case, no points are awarded and the play is considered a touchback.) In Canadian football, if a scrimmage kick (punt or missed field goal attempt) is kicked into the end zone and the opponent does not advance it out, the kicking team is awarded a single, worth one point.
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 and would require a deliberate act of sabotage to actually occur), 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. Similarly, the Baltimore Ravens took a safety with twelve seconds left in Super Bowl XLVII instead of punting out of the end zone, cutting their lead to three points but winning the game since they were able to burn eight seconds off the clock with the safety play.
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. They do occur, such as one scored by Paddy Andrews in a 2009 O'Byrne Cup match, or two scored by Mayo in the 2016 All-Ireland Senior Football Championship Final. 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
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 (score sheets 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.
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- "Terrorists killed by their own devices". The Independent. London. 1996-02-20.
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