Come on, we’ve all been drawn in by the buzz of football’s Law 14, the beautifully simple but often frustrating penalty kick. A penalty during the game can be the most contentious and divisive decision a referee makes but that is compounded by one of most debated sections of football’s rule book. That’s right, I’m talking about the dreaded penalty shootout. We all know how exhilarating, emotional, and downright frustrating the penalty shootout can be and it has often brought players and fans to tears, but is there a more exciting and intoxicating way to decide the winning team?
Do you think penalty shootouts are the right way to end a game?
The penalty shootout was brought into play in the early 1970’s, replacing the drawing of lots which seemed an unfair anti-climax and took all of the skill out of reaching a winning result. But it’s had its critics over the years. Some say football is a team game and should be decided by team play rather than one-on-one penalties. Others say penalty shootouts are down to luck rather than skill. One alternative that has been tried in some major tournaments is the Golden Goal. David Trezeguet’s winner for France against Italy in the final of Euro 2000 was a Golden Goal but the argument against them is that they promote negative play in extra-time as conceding a goal becomes a frightening prospect. Other options have been brought to the table but never the pitch, such as unlimited extra time where we play until one team eventually scores, or another idea of reducing the number of players on the pitch as extra time ticks down. I don’t think any of these will happen soon, but the debate goes on.
Do fans like penalty shootouts?
As football fans, we’ve all been there. Is there a more exciting and intoxicating way to decide the winning team than the penalty shootout? Yes, somebody must lose, but that’s true about all games in knockout competitions. What makes the penalty shootout special is the range of emotions it brings out. Yes, it’s nerve-wracking but the sheer delight of your team scoring the winning penalty simply can’t be matched during 90 minutes of normal play. It’s those feelings and emotions that we, as fans, live for.
Is there a way to make penalty shootouts fairer?
Penalty shootouts are a nail-biting ordeal for even the best players, and with good reason. All the evidence points to shootouts being more about luck than technical ability. On top of that, the team taking the first kick has a significant advantage over their opponents because of the psychological pressure a successful penalty puts on the next player. Could changing the order of penalties taken change to make it fairer, perhaps a score-dependent alternating order where the team who are trailing take the next penalty to see if they can catch up. A team at Durham University have done some research into this option so we may see something like this soon.
Can you think of an alternative to penalty shootouts?
So how do we solve our little conundrum? Are penalty shootouts fair or is there a way we can all agree on to end the game in a manner that makes everyone happy? Do penalty shootouts occur enough to even have a debate about them? Here at DrinkKit, one of our colleagues thought he had the answer when he declared, what if, at the end of the game, a panel of referees was given the task of awarding a points decision to the best team, just like they do in boxing? Well, if it comes down to that or a penalty shootout, I’ll take penalties every time. And I follow England.