Saturday, 20 Jul 2024

Assists In Soccer: Everything You Need to Know

Gary Neville

Assist In Soccer: An Overview

Soccer enthusiasts understand that scoring a goal involves more than just the person who puts the ball in the net. The player who assists in the goal is equally crucial. In this article, we will explore the concept of assists in soccer and provide a comprehensive guide on how they work.

What is an assist in soccer?

An assist in soccer occurs when a player passes the ball to a teammate, leading to a goal. While not officially recognized in the Laws of the Game until the 1986 FIFA World Cup, the concept of assists has been integral to the sport for years.

A New Statistic

Throughout the history of organized soccer, teams and fans have been keeping track of various statistics. However, it wasn’t until 56 years after the first FIFA World Cup in 1930 that the player who passed the ball before the goal scorer started receiving recognition. FIFA took the initiative to track these influential playmakers.

Soccer Assist: The Definition and its Nuances

The definition of an assist in soccer is quite simple. It refers to a player passing the ball to a teammate in a way that leads to a goal. It is important to note that assists are only counted when a pass is made. Blocking defenders or other factors that contribute to a goal won’t be considered an assist.

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Additionally, assists are not attributed to all goals. If a player scores without receiving the ball from a teammate, it doesn’t count as an assist. For example, a game ending in a 3-3 draw may not include any assists.

FIFA World Cup Criteria

The criteria for determining an assist in the FIFA World Cup were developed by FIFA’s Technical Study Group. The key points include:

  1. An assist is awarded to the player who passes the ball to the goal scorer.
  2. In certain cases, assists can be given to both the passer and the penultimate passer (second assist).
  3. If a goal is scored from a ball rebounding off the crossbar, the player who made the original shot on target is awarded an assist.
  4. In goals scored from penalty kicks, the fouled player receives credit for the point.
  5. If a goal scorer scores without receiving a pass from a teammate, no assist is awarded.
  6. If the goal scorer takes advantage of a missed pass from an opponent, no assist is awarded.

Limitations to the Assist

The time elapsed between the pass and the goal does not affect the attribution of an assist. The goal scorer has the opportunity to position themselves correctly before scoring. Additionally, if the player who receives the ball dribbles past defenders before scoring, it still counts as an assist.

How Different Leagues Award Assists

Various soccer leagues have their own ways of recognizing assists. For example, France’s Ligue 1 has a trophy called the “Trophee de Meilleur Passeur,” awarded to the player with the most decisive passes in a season. In the UK’s Premier League, assists are factored into the Actim Index of player performance, and they also award the Premier League Playmaker of the Season to the player with the most assists.

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Different soccer leagues across North America, such as ice hockey and basketball, track assists as well. The NCAA also tracks assist statistics for male and female soccer players in their different divisions.

Leaders in Assists

While different leagues have varying standards, several players stand out for their impressive assist records:

  • The most assists in a single World Cup belongs to Pele, with nine assists.
  • Cristiano Ronaldo has recorded 42 assists in UEFA Champions League games throughout his career.
  • Ryan Giggs holds the record for the most career assists in Premier League games with 162.

Assists and Fantasy Sports

Fantasy sports have revolutionized fan engagement, creating a new way for fans to interact with the game. Official Fantasy Premier League rules have relaxed the criteria for assists within their program. Inadvertent touches by opponents do not automatically discount an assist as long as the ball reaches its intended target.

Goalies and Assists

Although goalies may seem excluded from the assist statistic due to their unique position, they are still capable of getting assists. While rare, if a goalie kicks a long pass to a teammate who then scores, the goalie is credited with an assist. Former Premier League goalie Paul Robinson holds the record for the most career goalie assists with five.

Assists and Egos

Within the world of professional soccer, some players prioritize scoring goals over making assists. However, the best players understand the importance of teamwork and setting their egos aside. Many top players achieve “double-doubles,” meaning they achieve double-digit goals and assists in a single season. For example:

  • Lionel Messi scored 25 goals and provided 21 assists in a season.
  • Mohamed Salah scored 19 goals and contributed 10 assists.
  • Domenico Berardi scored 14 goals with 10 assists.
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Practicing Assists

While soccer lacks structured plays like American football, teams practice various scenarios to implement on the field. These drills focus on attacking, situational awareness, and team coordination. By strategically positioning themselves and executing well-planned plays, players can maximize their chances of assisting and scoring goals.

The increasing interest in tracking assists demonstrates that soccer is more than just individual brilliance. It is a team sport that relies on players working together towards a common goal.


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Assists in soccer are an essential part of the game, recognizing the players who contribute to goal-scoring opportunities. From the FIFA World Cup to different leagues worldwide, assists are acknowledged and celebrated. As fans, we appreciate the skill, teamwork, and selflessness necessary to create these scoring chances. To learn more about soccer and stay updated with the latest news, visit Movin993.