Problems with
Penalties

Problems with Penalties

Abraham received racial abuse and death threats

Exposes Players to Psychological Trauma, Racism and Death Threats

The penalty shootout fosters long term psychological trauma for players who miss critical kicks as Bossis, Six, Baggio, Conti and many others have detailed.

Death threats were made against Danish and Colombian players after they missed penalties at the 2018 FIFA World Cup. Chelsea striker Tammy Abraham received racial abuse and death threats after missing a penalty in the 2019 UEFA Super Cup. Three English players received racial abuse after missing penalties in the 2020 Euro final.

Some people will argue that the shootout simply parallels the ups and downs of real life. But the “two imposters” of triumph and disaster are already ever present within the regular ninety minutes.

Indeed, it’s common to see a player turn from villain to hero, or hero to villain, in the space of a few games or even a single match. If there’s one thing football certainly doesn’t need, it’s a tiebreaker to remind us of the capriciousness of life.

FIFA, IFAB, FIFPRO and any group who is concerned about player welfare, need to act before there’s a catastrophic real-life tragedy.

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Fails to Showcase the Game

Every time a match ends with a goalkeeper guessing wrong and a ball dribbling into a goal, or a player crumbling to the ground at the penalty spot, the sport is devalued.

ADG provides a tiebreaker format where fans can see spectacular and exhilarating goals. Would you rather watch a player like Marta, Messi or Mbappé walk up and convert a penalty to win a title, or watch them at full speed, swerve past a defender and bend the ball into the back of the net? However, ADG isn’t just about the attacking players, it also gives defenders and goalkeepers equal opportunity to shine.

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. 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. The introduction of a tiebreaker that rewards and showcases the modern footballer, instead of punishing and traumatising them, will be a critical component of this evolution.

Team Kicking First is 20% More Likely to Win

Professor Ignacio Palacios-Huerta in his book Beautiful Game Theory: How Soccer Can Help Economics, studied 1001 penalty shootouts comprising 10431 penalty kicks during a period from 1970-2013.

What Palacios-Huerta discovered was that the team who took the first kick in the shootout won 60% of the time.4 The reason is because the team kicking second is usually playing catch-up and therefore experiences greater pressure with each kick.

The data clearly shows that the penalty shootout is not a 50-50 lottery. It is more like a 60-40 lottery, where the team kicking first has 20% more tickets!

IFAB also rejected the ABBA kicking sequence which mirrors the tennis tiebreaker. In any respect, ABBA was just putting a band-aid on a broken leg. It wasn’t going to do anything in regards to player welfare. Nor would it have done anything to showcase the dynamic beauty of modern football.

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"Penalties are awful, unfair, but what else is there?"
Laurent Blanc