What's the
Genesis of ADG?

Merewether United, Newcastle, Australia,1975
"It affected me for years."
"One does not remember the winners. One remains haunted by the losers."
ADG showcases the skill, speed and athleticism of modern football
Who developed ADG and what's your involvement with football?

ADG was developed in 2008, by myself, Tim Farrell. Now some people are going to assume that I’m  a disgruntled English fan who has suffered years of shootout torment, and that’s why I created ADG. I’m actually Australian, and as fortune would have it, Australia have now qualified for two World Cups on penalties.

So, as a Socceroos fan, these were obviously unforgettable moments. The point is that ADG isn’t about national allegiances, or who has been successful in shootouts and who hasn’t. ADG is about the beauty and exhilaration of football and trying to improve the sport.

Growing up in Australia in the seventies, I played football (or soccer) like most boys. I was a pretty hopeless player, but that didn’t diminish my enjoyment and love for the game. I remember clearly the 1986 World Cup and Maradona leading Argentina to victory.

Watching the World Cup down under needs some passion and dedication because the matches are mostly in the middle of the night and the dead of winter!

The 1994 World Cup final was another critical moment. Roberto Baggio had scored 5 goals in the 3 knockout games, including a late brace to rescue Italy from defeat against Nigeria. In the shootout it was left to the “divine ponytail” to keep Italian hopes alive. The English novelist and football fan, A.S. Byatt writes, “One does not remember the winners. One remains haunted by the losers.” 7

Baggio later said that, “It affected me for years. It is the worst moment of my career. I still dream about it. If I could erase a moment, it would be that one.” 7

While we’ve witnessed growing recognition by most sports about their responsibility towards athlete’s mental health, football led by FIFA and IFAB, remain stuck in a 1970’s time-warp.

Twenty years ago, the late great, Terry Venables, who no one would have mistook as a new-age sensitive guy, said, “We ought not be subjecting people to this kind of pressure. Penalties put too much strain on one player.” 1

Since then the situation has only gotten worse. Today’s players have to endure vile abuse, racism and death threats. It’s a totally unacceptable situation. FIFA created this problem, so they need to pull their finger out and look for solutions. Let’s hope we don’t have to wait for a catastrophic real-life tragedy before anything actually changes.

After Italy beat France on penalties at 2006 FIFA World Cup ideas began gestating again. However, it wasn’t until the 2008 UEFA Champions League final between Chelsea and Manchester United, that I sat down one freezing Melbourne morning and really began to flesh out an alternative.

Once again, I wasn’t a Chelsea supporter who had just suffered a devastating defeat, I was just thinking about improving the game.

Unfortunately most football administrators will argue that since it’s already the world’s most popular sport, why bother? The answer, as both rugby and cricket have found, is that updating any sport keeps it fresh and even more importantly, fair.

Instead, with football we have a tiebreaker that gives one team a 20% advantage, exposes its players to psychological trauma, racism and death threats, and fails to showcase the game.

The underlying problem with the penalty shootout is the expectation that the kicker should always score. So, I said, “How do we change that expectation? How do we make it more difficult to score?” It was then that I had the idea of including a defender.

The challenge was then to develop that initial idea into a tiebreaker format that would combine the skill, speed and athleticism of modern football, with the inherent dramatic tension of the shootout.

NEXT: Why Penalties
are Problematic?

Learn about the various issues with the penalty shootout.