Do International Friendly Goals Count in Soccer Statistics?

Do International Friendly Goals Count in Soccer Statistics?

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When it comes to soccer, there are countries that engage themselves in international friendly competitions between their two national teams. The stars usually come out to play well in international friendlies because of how pride and dignity are on the line. That’s why they still play really well regardless of what is at stake. However, are the goals that these players score in international friendly games counted in their statistics?

Goals scored in international friendly games are also counted in the player’s soccer statistics. This is because a grade-A international friendly game is officially sanctioned by FIFA. In that regard, it is also considered an official game. However, if unsanctioned by FIFA, the goals don’t count.

While international friendly games don’t really amount to much depending on certain circumstances, the players are still competitive enough to make sure that they give the win to their team by scoring as many goals as possible. That’s why they are still rewarded with such statistics. But there are still some things you need to know about international friendlies before you assume that every goal counts (unless you’re talking about Pele, of course).

What is an international friendly in soccer?

In soccer, two teams or clubs can come together to play a game with no stakes on the line at all. These are called friendly matches or friendlies, for short. A friendly can be played by one professional team coming from a different country or league and another team from the same country or league or from an entirely different country or league. That’s why there are some friendlies that are played by a professional team from England and another professional team from, let’s say, Japan.

The purpose of a friendly is mainly to test out new players and new strategies while also allowing the players to get into game shape quickly after a long rest during the offseason. There are also some friendlies that are played for charity and even to honor a legendary player’s achievements.

However, we also have international friendly matches, which are friendlies that are played between the two national teams of each country. We have to stress the word “national” here because international friendlies can only be sanctioned by FIFA as grade A matches if they are played by THE national teams of those countries and not just some any other national team. In other words, the game will only be officially sanctioned by FIFA if the countries use the team they would send to any other international competition or tournament.

International friendly matches are usually played as glorified tune-ups where one country will try to gauge its strength against another country’s national team. In that sense, they are quite similar to ordinary friendlies. 

But the difference here is that international friendlies that are sanctioned by FIFA also give out ranking points to the team. That’s why there are some lower-ranked teams that increase their ranking if they win against a team ranked much higher. However, stronger teams don’t get a lot of points if they end up winning against the weaker teams.

Do international friendly goals count in soccer statistics?

Now that we have mentioned that international friendly matches that are sanctioned by FIFA reward ranking points to the teams participating in them (albeit not large enough for most teams to increase their ranking), does it also mean that goals are also counted in the statistics of the players participating in these matches?

For starters, yes, goals scored by the players are counted in their statistics even if it is just simply an international friendly game. That’s why you still see the best players competing at the top of their games whenever they are participating in international friendlies as the goals they would score do not go to waste and are still counted in their stats. In fact, players that even participate in international friendlies also get caps in their name.

However, what you have to take note of here is that the goals will only be counted if the players played in an officially sanctioned international friendly match. That means that it should have been given the grade A status by FIFA and should have complied with all of the other requirements to be officially sanctioned. Elsewise, it will be treated as a glorified exhibition game between two national teams and the goals scored by the players won’t get counted.

Do goals in club friendlies count?

While we have discussed that international friendly games played by two national teams and sanctioned by FIFA are treated as real games, so to speak, and the goals scored by the players are counted in their statistics, does the same rule apply in friendlies played by professional soccer clubs?

Well, no. The reason is that any club can simply participate in a friendly game against any other club from another league or country. It can be against a stronger team or a much weaker team, and there are really no points or rewards on the line in such games. 

That is why nothing is really counted as statistics in these games are they are simply glorified tune-up games where even the best players don’t usually come out to play at their best and are just simply trying to get back into playing shape or are trying to adjust to the playing styles of their new teammates.

Do pre-season goals count?

Similar to how club friendly game goals are not counted, pre-season games are also not counted even if the two clubs participating in the game come from the same league and are almost equally matched in terms of standings and strengths.

Pre-season games count for nothing at all and are just tune-up games that will allow both teams to look at how well they have trained during the offseason and to try out new sets and strategies that they may apply when the actual season starts. As such, even the goals scored by the players in these games count for nothing as well.