Fact check: Are goals particularly common in certain minutes of the game?

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Over the years, we have seen people complain about goals being particularly frequent in certain minutes of the match. We already discussed the special case in regards to 45/90th minute aka stoppage time goals, so this article is dedicated to similar claims in regards other minutes of a match.

The claim

To illustrate the claim in dispute, we collected a few examples of quotes from people who assert that goals are particularly frequent in certain minutes of the match:

”For the 45th\90th minute, I noticed a lot of goals come before the 45th minute and stoppage time (42nd, 43rd and also 48th, I scored like 3 goals today in the 48th minute in 7 games).” (— Comment on Reddit)

”Even you aren’t that deluded to realise minutes like the 45th, 75th and 90th, there’s always a goal or unbelievable opportunity for one of the teams. And you can call it whatever you want, one thing it isn’t is broken mechanics” (— Comment on Reddit)

”And you also forget 2nd min and 47th min goals! In the last 5 games I scored twice at the 2nd min and concede one as well… It’s just like players dont give a shit on kick offs.. (probably a glitch/scripting)” (— Comment on Futhead forums)

“Another problem i have are the goals at certain stages of am match, but this is present in the franchise for ages. For those who do not know what i mean – scoring or conceding in 1st, 45th, 46th or 90th minute.” (— Comment on Futhead forums)

Although it isn’t reflected directly in all the quotes above, they were found in various scripting threads around the internet.

Are goals scored more frequently in certain minutes?

We already know that goals are scored more frequently in the timespans often – wrongfully – referred to as the 45th and the 90th minutes. We also know that the reason is perfectly natural. But what about all the other minutes mentioned above? Are goals really particularly frequent during those minutes as well?

According to the claims in the quotes above, goals occur particularly often in… the 1st, 2nd, 42nd, 43rd, 46th, 47th, 48th and the 75th minute. And this is just a small sample.

When we asked /r/fifa about what minutes people experienced more goals in, we got more answers, including intervals.

Thus, people seem to agree that there are absolutely clear and blatant patterns in regards to when goals are scored, but apparently less so when it comes to what those patterns are.

Another observation is that none of the people quoted above provide an answer to the million dollar question these allegations raise:

Why on earth would EA care about when we score our goals?

The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind.

When people see patterns

The quotes above and the claims they contain aren’t based on systematic observations. Rather, this is the story about how little it takes for the human mind to start seeing patterns in random data. You concede a goal twice in the 2nd minute, and you immediately start suspecting a conspiracy lurking in the dark. In reality, this is your mind playing tricks on you.

Having said that, it is quite likely that goals aren’t equally distributed over the match. Apart from stoppage time goals, football statisticians have found that the probability of scoring to increase towards the end of the match. Bookmakers use this knowledge to calculate live odds during matches.

This could easily be the case with FIFA as well, even though we have no information to confirm this.

So, to wrap this up, we perhaps didn’t manage to debunk the claim(s) above with hard data. On the other hand, no sane person would pay any tribute to them.

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