God created me to delight
people with my goals.
Brazilian striker ROMÁRIO
Of the many criticisms leveled at soccer by American pundits is the indifference shown by those in the sport to statistics. Numbers are all well and good, but numbers cannot tell the story of such a free-flowing sport. Still, sometimes, when a remarkable thing happens in a match, someone with a calculator or measuring stick records it.
Little did the International Football Association Board, soccer’s official rule-making body, know in 1997 when it tinkered with Law VIII (“The Start and Restart of Play”) that it would allow one of the game’s quirkier records to be shaved to the nub.
The board, made up of four FIFA representatives and one each from England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland (in recognition of Britain as the home of modern soccer), decided at its annual meeting to allow a goal to be scored directly from the kickoff. No longer was an anxious player required to first have a teammate touch the ball forward before it could be blasted toward the net. It also declared the ball in play when it was kicked and moved forward, dumping the stipulation that it be touched one complete revolution before it could be played by another player.
Until then, one of the fastest goals scored was by Adelaide City’s Damian Mori—3.69 seconds—in an Australian league match in December 1994.