How does ADG Reconcile
with Football Past,
Present and Future?

Win the toss, win the shootout!
Why not keep football a simple game?

The phrase “a simple game” dates back to 1862 when a teacher at Uppingham School in England drew up a set of ten laws entitled “The Simplest Game”. These ten laws which are also known as the Uppingham Rules totalled a mere 253 words.20 By contrast, the word count for the 17 laws in the current edition of IFAB’s Laws of the Game is over 16,000.

What was indeed once “a simple game” has morphed into a sophisticated sport where players, coaches and referees dedicate decades to perfecting their skills. Over the past 150 years the Laws of the Game have expanded exponentially and the sport has undergone many transformations. Consequently, the idea of football being “a simple game” is an anachronism.

So, while some might complain that ADG is too complicated, we must also acknowledge that the sport’s rulebook spans 230 pages. In fact, the word count for the ADG’s thirty-seven laws is actually less than that for the penalty shootout!

Regardless, many concepts which are highly detailed and ostensibly complicated on paper, become deceptively simple when they are physically played out and people can visualise them. This will be the case with ADG.

Tammy Abraham was racially abused and received death threats after the 2019 UEFA Super Cup
The penalty kick itself has been around for over 100 years, isn't that justification for the shootout?

The late broadcaster and FIFA Ethics committee member, Les Murray writes, “To begin with penalty kicks were invented as tools of punishment for offences. It is inherently abhorrent that tools of punishment should be used to decide games. Proponents of shootouts make the case that penalties are part of football.”

“Yes. But only when someone has committed a foul inside the penalty area. As genuine, intended arbiters of a game’s outcome, they are not part of the game and never have been.”

“The men who drew up the Laws of the Game at London’s Freemasons Arms all those years ago would be spinning in their graves at the thought that penalties are now deciding World Cup finals.” 21

Claire Lavogez misses her penalty at FIFA Women's World Cup 2015
Isn't ADG just a gimmick and not real football?

We’re all scared of change but we also know that the shootout is an unsatisfactory solution and that’s why we’ve seen things like golden goal and silver goal. And while these experiments were ultimately deemed unsuccessful, this should in no way hinder or disqualify the development of other new alternatives.

I know people will say that ADG isn’t real football and contrary to the Laws of the Game, but I will always argue that ADG is more about the purity of football and the dynamic beauty of the game than the penalty shootout will ever be.

Of course, ADG is a bold alternative. But the very nature of a diabolical problem necessitates creative thinking, innovation and evolution. Most elements of the game such as pitch quality, stadium design, real-time statistics, kit, crowd control, safety, and most recently, refereeing technology, have evolved since the seventies.

But the game’s ultimate tiebreaker remains a relic from a bygone era. Football must continue to evolve if it’s to preserve its place as the most loved sport in the world. ADG should be viewed as another step forward in this evolutionary process.

"It affected me for years."
What’s the future hold for ADG?

You often hear people say, don’t fix what’s not broken. However, FIFA acknowledge the problem and that’s why we saw golden goal and why other alternatives are always discussed.

Even Sepp Blatter, for all his faults, declared the shootout a tragedy and in 2012 asked Franz Beckenbauer to come up with an alternative. Beckenbauer said something about them being better than the coin toss, and that was it!

So, regrettably there’s an astonishing amount of arrogance and wilful neglect exhibited by the sport’s law makers and administrators.

ADG was discussed by the IFAB in 2009 when the proposal was then just weeks old. In the ensuing years the proposal has been radically improved. Subsequently, IFAB acknowledged the 20% advantage for the team kicking first and ABBA was trialled.

We’ve also witnessed the global sporting community’s growing recognition of their responsibility towards athlete’s mental health.  However, football remains oblivious to the dangers, with the penalty shootout continuing to promote psychological trauma, racism and death threats. 

I’ve tried to develop a thorough proposal and anticipate likely problems, but as with any proposed alternative, only practical testing will reveal its actual strengths and flaws. It’s then of course a matter of getting feedback from the game’s stakeholders such as players, fans, coaches and managers, referees, sponsors and administrators.

When the shootout was introduced in 1970, football was a very different game. Four years earlier Pelé was literally kicked out of the World Cup and even considered quitting the sport.

Five decades later and the game deserves a tie-breaker that rewards and showcases the modern footballer for their immense skill and athleticism.

Things have to change, and change soon, otherwise as Karembeu says, “Someone will get the bullet, you know that. And it will reduce them to nothing.”

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