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Soccer – The Penalty Shoot-Out

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The Penalty Shoot-Out is method in the beautiful game of soccer that decides which team wins the match and progresses to the next round or wins a tournament.

However, it is a method that has many advocates and opponents among soccer fans. Proponents believe that players need good soccer skills needed to successfully kick a penalty into the goal and think these shoot-outs are exciting, while opponents believe that the penalty shoot-out is more or less a lottery.

History Of The Penalty Shoot-Out

The Penalty Shoot-Out was officially approved by the International Football Association Board (IFAB) in 1970. Before, games were decided by a replay, tossing a coin or drawing of lots.

So How Does It Work?

So what is the procedure when a match needs to be decided by a penalty shoot-out?

Each team takes turns to shoot five penalty kicks. The team that scores most goals wins the shoot-out. However, if a team is out of reach during the penalty shoot-out, the shoot-out ends immediately.

If the teams are tied after five penalty kicks, then sudden-death rounds of each team kicking one penalty decide which team will progress to the next round or will win the tournament.   

The Penalty Shoot-Out Trauma

Some famous soccer countries have more or less a penalty shoot-out trauma. Italy, The Netherlands and England are known for poor penalty kick performances during major tournaments.  The Italian national team was during three consecutive World Cup finals eliminated from the tournament on penalties. The Dutch lost four consecutive penalty shoot outs (European Championship 1992, 1996 and 2000 and World Cup in 1998).

However, the English national team has the dubious reputation to take the worst penalties. The English have lost seven of the eight penalty shoot-outs during major tournaments. Only during Euro 1996 in their own country, they were able to win a penalty shoot-out, they eliminated Spain via penalty kicks.

Penalty Alternatives

So are there any good alternatives for penalty shoot-outs? Over the years, various people suggested alternatives, such as awarding the victory to the team that had most shots on goal or had the most corner kicks.

Other suggestions include removing at regular intervals players from the pitch or one-on-ones between an attacker and a goal keeper, similar to the penalty shuffle in (ice) hockey.

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