After England were dumped out of Euro 2012, suffering yet another ill-fated Quarter Final penalty shoot-out, the credibility of such a method to decide a game has been questioned and thrown into the limelight.
After Cheslea won the Champions League final on penalties, Sepp Blatter, the President of FIFA, asked German legend Franz Beckenbaur to advise an alternative method of settling a game. Blatter spoke out to a FIFA congress, describing penalties as a “tragedy”, saying that the beautiful game “loses its essence as a team sport” when spot kicks determine the outcome of a match.
When asked by Yahoo! about where they stood on the matter, both Martin Jol and Ray Wilkins claimed that penalties were the only way to end a game. The Fulham manager suggested that if your team aren’t very good at penalties, then they should hit the training ground fast.
Former England manager Glenn Hoddle however, sympathised with Mr. Blatter’s point of view, saying that football fans only like watching penalties when their own team isn’t involved. Hoddle did however concede that penalties would be very difficult to avoid, mainly due to the fact that there is no real alternative.
But what alternatives are there? ‘Golden Goals’ were brought in and dropped not long after Oliver Bierhoff clinched Euro 96 against the unfortunate Czechs. Surely if the teams are still tied then penalties have to be the only way to settle the score. The former England manager, who also suffered a World Cup exit at the hands of penalties, suggested that they should be kept but taken straight after 90 minutes and then followed by extra-time. He explained that this way, the pressure of missing a penalty and losing the shoot-out doesn’t rest on one or two players’ shoulders. This would be because the losing team could still salvage the victory, if they win in-play, during extra-time.
Personally, I think that the spectacle created by a penalty shoot-out is one of the most captivating in sport and there is no bigger test of character than a penalty shoot-out.
Long live the shoot-out!