Soccer at its most basic is all about who can score the most goals in a single game. Goals are what make soccer so exciting to watch. However, one game stands out above any other because of the unusually high number of goals scored.
The highest scoring soccer game ever was AS Adema 149–0 SO l’Emyrne. This 149 – 0 loss by Madagascar’s Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne against AS Adema occurred on October 31, 2002. SO l’Emyrne deliberately scored 149 own goals during the game as a protest against previous refereeing decisions.
No other professional soccer game comes close to having this many goals scored.
There were very specific circumstances to explain why this happened. I’m going to explain them to you here, along with explaining the consequences of such a large result, how this game also crushed other soccer records, and I’ll reveal the highest-scoring World Cup soccer game.
Let’s get started!
How the Highest-Scoring Soccer Game Ever Happened
One team beating another by 149 goals doesn’t just happen.
There have to be very unusual circumstances for this to occur, and one team has to just let the entire game pass them by.
You won’t be surprised to know that Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne Vs AS Adema was a game like no other.
Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne and AS Adema were due to face each other on October 31, 2002, in the context of the Madagascan National Championship.
This would be the last game of a four-team, round-robin style playoff, similar to the format of most professional soccer leagues.
By the time the game started, AS Adema had already been declared the winner of the championship.
Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne had failed to win their previous game and had drawn 2-2 with DSA Antananarivo after conceding a goal from a penalty late in the game.
This tied result meant there was no possible scenario where AS Adema could finish the championship as anything but winners.
Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne were particularly upset by this result because they were the current champions, and they felt that the late penalty awarded against them by the referee was unjust.
To display their anger and disgust at the situation, they decided that they would play the championship’s final game as a protest.
In their minds, they had nothing to lose and only world recognition to gain!
So, instead of attempting to play the game to win, they decided to do the opposite. They would do all they could to lose by the biggest score they could manage.
From kick-off at the beginning of the game, they took every opportunity to kick the ball back towards their own goal, past their goalie, and into their own goal net.
For the duration of the game, the opposition, AS Adema, simply stood back and watched.
Until the end of October 2002, the previous record for the game with the highest score was from 1885 when the Scottish team Arbroath beat Bon Accord 36-0. There had been a couple of regional games that had finished with higher scores since then, but nothing in a professional league.
Since this game, no other team has come close to scoring so many goals.
Consequences of Scoring So Many Goals in a Game
Due to the nature of this game, the local soccer authorities decided that something needed to happen to prevent this farce from happening again.
It doesn’t look good when one of your teams is spending an entire game scoring own goals!
So Madagascar’s soccer authorities decided to ban Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne’s coach along with four of the team’s players. They hoped this would dissuade another team, or players, from trying something similar in the future.
The Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne’s coach, Zaka Be, was given the most notable punishment when the authorities suspended him for three years and even banned him from visiting soccer stadiums at all during that time.
The four Stade Olympique de L’Emyrne players:
- defender Mamisoa Razafindrakoto,
- captain Manitranirina Andrianiaina,
- Nicolas Rakotoarimanana,
- and goalkeeper Dominique Rakotonandrasana
– were suspended until the end of the season and also banned from visiting soccer stadiums during that time.
What difference this punishment had is hard to tell, but one thing is for sure – no other team has tried using a similar tactic since!
But this isn’t where the records stop. This game holds more records than just being the highest-scoring game ever.
Record for the Most Own Goals Scored in a Game
Not only does the Stade Olympique L’Emyrne 0 – 149 AS Adema game have the honor of being the game with the most goals scored, but it is also the game with the record for the most own goals.
The record for the most own goals scored in a single game is held by Madagascar’s Stade Olympique L’Emyrne when they deliberately scored 149 own goals against AS Adema on October 31, 2002. Stade Olympique L’Emyrne lost the game 149 – 0.
Scoring so many own goals in a game is unheard of throughout the soccer world.
Occasionally you will see one or two own goals scored, but never 149!
I’m sure this record will stand for a long time.
Highest Scoring Game in World Cup History
Although the Stade Olympique L’Emyrne Vs AS Adema game will go down in history for the sheer volume of goals scored, other games have also seen many goals. One of the most significant happened during the FIFA World Cup.
The highest-scoring game in World Cup history was between Australia and American Samoa on April 11, 2001, when Australia won the game 31-0. Australia’s 31-0 victory is the highest-scoring international soccer game ever.
Like the game between Stade Olympique L’Emyrne and AS Adema that we talked about above, this was far from a usual game.
Australia was already considered a far stronger team in world soccer than American Samoa, and the fans expected them to dominate the game. But American Samoa was handed another disadvantage when they were unable to bring most of their team into Australia to play the game due to visa issues.
These restrictions left them relying on mostly youth players, including three 15-year-olds. The average age of their team ended up being only 18. Afterward, their coach even said some of their players had never even played a full 90 minutes of soccer before!
It’s actually impressive that they didn’t concede any more goals than 31!
Take a look at the highlights below if you’re interested.
Most Goals Scored in a Soccer Game by One Player
The highest-scoring game in world cup history also links to the most goals one player has scored in an international soccer game.
Australian Archie Thompson holds the record for the most goals scored in an international soccer game by one player. He scored 13 goals for Australia against American Samoa during their 31-0 victory in April 2001.
Although this is the record at the international level, it has been beaten at the domestic level.
The record for the most goals scored in a soccer game by one player is jointly held by Stephan Stanis and Panagiotis Pontikos, who both scored 16 goals in a single game.
Polish soccer player Stephan Stanis first held the record after scoring 16 goals for Racing Club de Lens vs. Aubry-Asturies, in Lens, France, in December 1942.
Then in May 2007, Panagiotis Pontikos of Cyprus equaled Stephan Stanis’ record by scoring 16 goals for Olympos Xylofagou against SEK Ayios Athanasios FC in the Cypriot 3rd division in a 24-3 victory.
In women’s soccer, the record for the most goals scored by a single player in a game is held by Shokhan Nooraldin Salihi, who scored 15 goals for Al-Hilal against Sama in an 18-0 victory. This feat was achieved during the 2022–23 Saudi Women’s Premier League season.
Although top-level competitions see their fair share of goals, no player has scored this many goals at the very top of the game.
Achieving a double-figure haul of goals during a single game is an incredible achievement and extremely rare.
The most goals scored in a World Cup soccer game by one player is five goals scored by Oleg Salenko for Russia against Cameroon in a 6-1 victory for Russia at the 1994 World Cup in the US.
Find out more
There are so many interesting facts and stories about soccer, and I love sharing them with you.
Check out one of my previous articles below. You may be surprised by what you find out!