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Replay (sports)

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A replay (also called a rematch) is the repetition of a match in many sports.

Association football[edit]

In association football, replays were often used to decide the winner in a knock-out tournament when the previous match ended in a draw, especially in finals. In 1970, FIFA (the worldwide governing body of the sport) and IFAB (the international rules committee for the sport) allowed penalty shoot-outs to be held if a match ended in a draw after extra time. The penalty shootout made its appearance immediately thereafter. The first instance of a shootout replacing a replay (rather than lots) was the final of the 1976 European championship. The shootout's first use at the World Cup took place in the 1982 semi-finals. Replays are now only used in the early rounds of the English FA Cup tournament, as well as rounds up until the semi-finals in the Scottish Cup. Games going to replays in the FA Cup since 1991 are only replayed once, with extra time and penalty shootouts used to decide the tie if the replay ends in a draw. Historically, FA Cup games would be replayed as many times as necessary until one team managed to win - in 1971, a fourth qualifying round match between Alvechurch and Oxford City was replayed five times after the initial match ended 2-2, with Alvechurch winning 1-0 in the fifth replay to settle the tie.[1] On 18 April 2024, The Football Association announced that would scrap replays altogether from the first round of the competition proper of the FA Cup beginning from the 2024-25 edition to help ease fixture congestion for clubs competing in UEFA competitions though replays will be retained during the qualifying phase of competition involving non-League clubs.[2]

Replays can sometimes also take place on occasion if a team has fielded an ineligible player in the original match,[3] or if a player has been injured as a result of an action by a spectator (such as throwing a coin or a bottle).[4] However, more common consequences for such actions include awarding victory to non-offending teams and/or deducting points from offending teams.


Until 2007, in the rare event that a Major League Baseball game ended in a tie, it was replayed if necessary to decide postseason advancement. Tied games counted in statistical records, but were not counted in a team's win-loss percentage. Since 2007, tied games that must be abandoned for whatever reason are resumed (if feasible and/or necessary) from the point of suspension, as opposed to being replayed in full.

Until the 2020 Major League Baseball season, it was possible for teams to protest games, usually if the manager believed his team was negatively impacted by a consequential umpiring decision that violated MLB rules. If the protest was upheld, the game would be replayed from the "point-of-protest" at a later date. In total, 15 MLB games were partially replayed under this rule, the last such occurrence happening in 2014. Most upheld protests were in the National League. The only case where the American League upheld a protest and ordered a replay was after the famous Pine Tar Incident in 1983. The rule was abolished after the 2019 MLB season, so protests and ensuing replays are no longer possible.


In boxing, rematches (referred to as "rematch" and not "replay", or simply by the match-up followed by a Roman numeral, as in Holyfield vs. Tyson II) are common and expected, producing historically significant moments in the sport. Examples include:

Gaelic games[edit]

Replays are often used as tiebreakers in the Gaelic games of hurling, Gaelic football, camogie and ladies' Gaelic football.[5][6] Extra time, penalty shoot-outs and free-taking shootouts have, in recent years, been increasingly used as tiebreakers to prevent fixture congestion.[7][8][9]

Gridiron football[edit]

The National Football League has a clause in its rules that allows the commissioner to order a whole or partial replay of a game that has been corrupted by an "extraordinary act." For a partial replay, the game is reset to the point immediately before the play in which the act took place, with all game parameters (time, score, ball position and possession) set to where they were at that point. A full replay discards the result of the previous game altogether and restarts the game from its beginning.

As of 2024, the NFL has never used its extraordinary act clause. The rulebook states that the authority is only to be used in the event that "any club action, non-participant interference, or calamity occurs in an NFL game which the Commissioner deems so extraordinarily unfair or outside the accepted tactics encountered in professional football that such action has a major effect on the result of the game."[10] Former commissioner Pete Rozelle refused on principle to use the provisions, notably after the notorious Snowplow Game.[11] Under commissioner Roger Goodell, the league also opposes using the power, mainly because of the domino effect it could have on the rest of the schedule and the financial ramifications that would result.[12] When this situation occurred in the aftermath of Damar Hamlin's on-field collapse in January 2023, it was decided instead to create an alternate playoff path for both the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, rather than replay the game.

Notable replayed games[edit]


  1. ^ "22 November 1971: The longest-ever FA Cup tie finally finishes". TheGuardian.com. 21 November 2009.
  2. ^ https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/68844583
  3. ^ Fox, Norman (3 October 1992). "Football: Leeds ordered to play third match". The Independent. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  4. ^ Forsyth, Roddy (25 September 2009). "Rapid Vienna's sense of humour failure against Celtic in the Europa League". The Telegraph. Retrieved 17 February 2018.
  5. ^ White, John DT (April 12, 2012). 101 Things You May Not Have Known About Gaelic Football. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9781908752727 – via Google Books.
  6. ^ Moran, Seán. "GAA's new rules on avoiding replays have come into operation". The Irish Times.
  7. ^ O'Rourke, Steve (26 September 2014). "So what happens if there is a draw in tomorrow's hurling replay?". The42.
  8. ^ O’Connor, Christy (December 28, 2021). "Penalty shoot-outs in the GAA: High drama or awful end?". Irish Examiner.
  9. ^ O'Toole, Fintan (6 June 2018). "Explainer: How free-taking shootouts could be needed as 2018 All-Ireland football qualifiers start this weekend". The42.
  10. ^ Florio, Mike (January 21, 2019). "Commissioner has authority to take action over Rams-Saints outcome, in theory". Profootballtalk.com. MSN.com. Retrieved January 21, 2019.
  11. ^ See: Snowplow Game
  12. ^ Dedaj, Paulina (January 25, 2019). "NFL opposes Rams-Saints do-over, saying it could cost league more than $100M: court filing". Fox News. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  13. ^ ""It still hurts": 25 years on from Dublin v Meath - the greatest GAA saga of all". JOE.ie.
  14. ^ "All Ireland Series 1925, Charlestown Co. Mayo West of Ireland | mayo-irelan". www.mayo-ireland.ie.
  15. ^ "Senior Football Championship Scoreboard 1888 - Present". April 21, 2015.
  16. ^ Moran, Seán. "Seán Moran: Mayo's greatest football grievance actually goes back 95 years". The Irish Times.