10 Alternatives to Penalty Shootouts

Will Tidey@willtideySenior Manager, GlobalMay 25, 2012

10 Alternatives to Penalty Shootouts

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    FIFA president Sepp Blatter has challenged Franz Beckenbauer to come up with an alternative to penalty shootouts—the go-to resolution for knock-out matches in football's premier tournaments.

    As honorary president of Bayern Munich, Beckenbauer experienced spot-kick agony in last weekend's Champions League final against Chelsea.

    Blatter clearly feels his pain. And with Beckenbauer leading Football Task Force 2014, a group charged with improving the game ahead of the Brazil World Cup, he's asked him to find a better option.

    Here's what Blatter had to say, as per BBC Sport:

    Football can be a tragedy when you go to penalty kicks.

    Football should not go to one to one. When it goes to penalty kicks football loses its essence.

    Perhaps Franz Beckenbauer with his football 2014 group can show us a solution, perhaps not today but in the future.

    With that in mind, here are 10 possible alternatives to the dreaded penalty shootout—some you'll have come across before, others you won't.

1. Attacker Defender Goalkeeper

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    The Attacker Defender Goalkeeper (ADG) solution is the brainchild of Timothy Farrell, who introduced his idea in 2008.

    ADG sees an attacker go up against a defender and a goalkeeper, with 30 seconds to score a goal. The attacker starts on the center spot. 

    Just like a penalty shootout, each team has five attempts each, with the team scoring more times deemed the winner. In the instance the teams are still level, we go to sudden death.

    Unlike a penalty shootout, all active players (those on the field at the end of the game) are involved. Each team would nominate five attackers, five defenders and goalkeeper.

    You also have an obvious disadvantage if you've had a player sent off—leaving you a defender short for one of the opposition attempts.

    To learn more about the system, visit the ADG website. Here are the main advantages, as they see them:

    • All players compete
    • Showcases skill and athleticism
    • Positive natured competition
    • Strategy is vital
    • Promotes attacking play
    • Promotes fair play

2. Shootout

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    The North American Soccer League and MLS both tried a variant on the penalty shootout—with players starting 35 yards out and tasked with beating the goalkeeper inside five seconds.

    This system was last seen in 1999.

    You could argue it calls for greater skill than a spot-kick shootout, and thus serves as a fairer way of splitting two teams.

    That said, it's still pitting one man against another.

3. Golden Goal

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    FIFA's golden goal system was used most notably at Euro 96, Euro 2000 and the 1998 and 2002 World Cups.

    The idea was simple. If two teams remained level at the end of normal time, extra-time would go ahead as usual—with two halves of 15 minutes. 

    But if either team scored, the game would be over. The most famous example came with David Trezeguet's winner in the final of Euro 2000, for France against Italy.

    The silver goal was a variation on a theme. This time, if a team led after the first period of extra-time they would be deemed the winners of the tie.

    Greece beat the Czech Republic in the semifinal of Euro 2004 by this method.

    We haven't seen either system since. The main argument against them is that they promote negativity during extra-time. Conceding a goal becomes so frightening a proposition teams are encouraged to sit back and wait for the penalty shootout.

4. Ever-Decreasing Numbers

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    One idea that's never far from the discussion involves reducing the number of players on each team during extra-time.

    You could, for example, remove one player from each team every five minutes. If the two periods remained 15 minutes in length, this would leave the teams playing the last five with just six players.

    The theory here is that fewer players leads to a greater chance of goals being scored and errors being made.

5. Never-Ending Extra Time

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    Then there's the notion of extra time going on as long as it needs to—you might call it the bronze goal.

    Let's say the two teams can't be separated after 30 minutes. What you could do is tell them to simply keep going, until eventually one of them scores.

    This one will never happen. Not only would it play havoc with television schedules, you also risk player injuries and encounter the possible scenario of a team playing a major final several days after being involved in an eight-hour football marathon.

6. Stat Count

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    With the vast array of statistical data now available, we could potentially decide games based on elements other than goals—either before or after an extra-time period.

    Penaltyshootouts.co.uk can be credited with several of these potentially decisive options:

    • Most corners
    • Most shots on target
    • Time in possession
    • Fewest fouls conceded
    • Fewest yellow/red cards
    • Number of times a team hits the woodwork
    • Fewest goalkeeper touches

7. The Rouge

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    We could even take things back to the Sheffield Rules of 1862.

    What you have here is an additional goal area on either side of the goalposts, marked by flags. Teams would then score points for any shots passing through the area between the post and the flags.

    These points could then be used to separate two teams, should be they level on goals at the end of a match.

    This one's clearly not happening, but fun to include nonetheless.

8. Coin Toss

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    How many times do we hear penalty shootouts referred to as "a lottery"?

    What you could do is take away the responsibility from the players and simply hand the result over to fate—and the simple toss of a coin.

    But is that really more satisfactory? Surely you'd rather your team had at least a modicum of control over their destiny?

9. Free-Kick Shootout

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    Blatter talked of the "tragedy" of penalty kicks. But perhaps if you take away the expectation that a player should score, you take away some of the heartache.

    From 12 yards, a miss is humiliation. From 25 yards, it's more or less expected.

    If you had a free-kick shootout, perhaps even with a training wall placed by the opposition goalkeeper (see above), you'd be rewarding those of the highest skill level. 

    That said, you'd also be inviting goalkeepers to make terrible mistakes. And then we're back to heartbreak and humiliation again.

10. Jury Decision

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    Thanks again to penaltyshootouts.co.uk for bringing up this one.

    What if, at the end of extra time, an expert panel was given the task of awarding a points decision to the best team?

    Ridiculous, right?

    Yes. In fact it's hard to imagine a more terrifying thought than Blatter and his cohorts deciding upon your team's future.

    If it's that or a penalty shootout, I'll take penalties. And I'm English.