Hockey chiefs announce end to own goal peril

Goalkeepers and defenders throughout the hockey world can breathe a sigh of relief from next season as own goals will no longer be possible in the sport.

Hockey chiefs announce end to own goal peril

After a two-season period experimenting with the own goal as a new rule, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has opted to discard it. The rule is no longer obligatory from February 1, though individual nations can decide whether to stick with it until the end of this season before it is removed completely in September.

The move has been widely welcomed by players, many of whom felt it encouraged players to “crash” the ball into the scoring circle hoping for any kind of goalward touch.

Given a separate rule change, ensuring free hits from inside the 23m line had to be moved five metres, was introduced a couple of seasons ago was to discourage such activity, the own goal rule was deemed by many to be counter-intuitive. Former world players of the year Jamie Dwyer (Australia) and Moritz Fuerste (Germany) both support the removal of the own goal rule, while the FIH has won praise for its willingness to revert.

Lisnagarvey captain and Ireland defender Jonny Bell also said he was happy to see it abolished: “I will be glad to see the back of the own goal, partly because I have had the embarrassment of having scored two myself, one of which was a real cracker in a World League game against New Zealand,” he said. “I don’t think it added anything whatsoever to the skill-set. If anything it made the game less skilful and encouraged teams to crash free hits and balls into the circle in the hope that a defender would get in the way.”

Supporters of the own goal rule claimed it added excitement and made defenders and goalkeepers sharper; umpires also may not be glad to see it abolished as they will now return to having the task of deciding who got the final touch in a crowded circle.

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