Barbados vs. Grenada, the demand for own-goals, 1994

by on June 29, 2010 at 1:42 am in History, Law, Sports | Permalink

There was an unusual match between Barbados and Grenada.

Grenada went into the match with a superior goal difference, meaning that Barbados needed to win by two goals to progress to the finals. The trouble was caused by two things. First, unlike most group stages in football competitions, the organizers had deemed that all games must have a winner. All games drawn over 90 minutes would go to sudden death extra time. Secondly and most importantly, there was an unusual rule which stated that in the event of a game going to sudden death extra time the goal would count double, meaning that the winner would be awarded a two goal victory.

Barbados was leading 2-0 until the 83rd minute, when Grenada scored, making it 2-1. Approaching the dying moments, the Barbadians realized they had no chance of scoring past Grenada's mass defense, so they deliberately scored an own goal to tie the game at 2-2. This would send the game into extra time and give them another half hour to break down the defense. The Grenadians realized what was happening and attempted to score an own goal as well, which would put Barbados back in front by one goal and would eliminate Barbados from the competition.

However, the Barbados players started defending their opposition's goal to prevent them from doing this, and during the game's last five minutes, the fans were treated to the incredible sight of Grenada trying to score in either goal. Barbados also defended both ends of the pitch, and held off Grenada for the final five minutes, sending the game into extra time. In extra time, Barbados notched the game-winner, and, according to the rules, was awarded a 4-2 victory, which put them through to the next round.

The full story is here and I thank Solomon Gold for the pointer.  Angus also blogged this story, with video evidence as well.

Michael June 29, 2010 at 2:18 am

Could someone please phone the esteemed Sr Edgardo Barandiaran and tell him about this post! I’m sure he will have something to say about esos Caribeños locos.

Steve Sailer June 29, 2010 at 2:34 am

Considering that teams averaged only 1.05 goals per game in the World Cup group stage, I think allowing soccer teams to score in either goal would do much to make the game more entertaining.

finzent June 29, 2010 at 7:18 am

I can’t get over this weird two-goals-for-one-in-overtime rule. What on earth were they thinking?

db June 29, 2010 at 7:42 am

Fun with non-monotonic utility functions. Notice that the double-point overtime rule is not required to create the incentives to do this, it just makes the incentives stronger.

finzent June 29, 2010 at 8:48 am

Well, because it’s sudden death, the two-point-rule in this case DOES create the incentive, doesn’t it? With normal (one point) sudden death there’s no reason at all for Barbados to score an own-goal to get into overtime (and none for Grenada to avoid overtime by scoring an own-goal too).

And now my head hurts.

Philo June 29, 2010 at 1:02 pm

The editor of The Bridge World magazine, Jeff Rubens, has over the years written many editorials on the general phenomenon of (what he calls) “sportsmanlike dumping”–playing not win a particular game (or segment of a game, or series of games) so as to increase one’s chance of winning the overall event. Sportsmanlike dumping arises because of defective conditions of contest; ideally the players’ incentives to win each segment of the competition should be aligned with the overall goal of winning the whole event, but the designers of competitions often fail to attend to this.

meter June 29, 2010 at 2:37 pm

How about tanking at the end of a season to end up with the #1 draft prospect?

Pareto June 29, 2010 at 8:35 pm

Boy, Marginal Revolution’s commenters sure are the most intriguing and knowledgeable among all blogs. Even the spambots are smart.

Ian Preston June 30, 2010 at 5:25 am

These accounts don’t go into what must have been the deep weirdness of the final minutes of normal time if play ever reached the Grenadian penalty area. A team trying to score into its own goal has a player (its goalkeeper) able to pick the ball up and run with it into the net. At the same time their opponents would have had great difficulty defending that goal without committing offside offences. If the defending opposition were to put the ball out of play across the goal line, play would restart with the defenders outside the penalty area and the attackers restarting in front of an open goal but unable to score into it. (You can’t score into your own goal direct from a goal kick – it would lead to a corner kick which would in the circumstances have presumably been like a goal kick taken from the corner flag.) It must have been nightmarish for the referee trying to wrap his head quickly around the bizarre consequences of the reversal of roles.

Eric December 31, 2010 at 9:45 am

Which one is the spambot??

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