The golden goal refers to a goal scored by a soccer team during overtime. The overtime minutes in a tied soccer game are similar to “sudden death.” The game ends in overtime with the first score, and the team that makes the point has made the golden goal.
This term was first used in 1992 to replace the more negative term “sudden death.” However, this way of breaking a tie is no longer used by the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA), which is the major governing body for professional soccer games. FIFA used the golden goal method for about ten years.
Many feel the golden goal rule was not successful because teams would often play conservatively and defensively. If a game-ending goal was not scored during overtime, then teams settled a tie by penalty kicks. This was preferred by many players, and often both teams wished to see a tied game settled in this manner.
Those who had established the idea of sudden death thought that the renamed golden goal would produce dramatic action in games that went into overtime. Instead it tended to produce far less dramatic action because of the conservative way in which the teams played.
There are a few exceptions. Some European Football Championships had a winning outcome determined using this method. In 1996 Germany beat the Czech Republic using a golden goal. As well, in 2000, France beat Italy with one to decide the European Football Championship.
However, as a result of dissatisfaction with this tie-breaking method the silver goal tie-breaking method was introduced. In this overtime strategy, teams are given an extra 15-minute period, and the team scoring the most at the end of that period would win the match. This method was also discarded after a few years.
Now neither golden goal nor silver goal method decides ties. Instead teams have two 15-minute halves after a tied game ends at the 90-minute mark. The team with the most points at the end of the two halves wins the games. Penalty shots decide a game that remains tied after the two halves have been played.