Penalty Shootouts

Love 'em or loathe 'em, penalty shootouts are here to stay ... Or are they?

Sepp Blatter, President of FIFA, speaking on 27th September 2006 at a British-Swiss Chamber of Commerce event in Zurich signalled that penalty shoot-outs may be phased out by the time the next World Cup comes around. He said, “When it comes to the World Cup final, it is passion, and when it goes to extra time it is a drama. But when it comes to penalty kicks, it is a tragedy. … Football is a team sport and penalties are not for a team, it is the individual.”

This web site is dedicated to research into the history, the impact, and opinions on using penalty shootouts to decide the result of drawn games in the knockout stages of international football tournaments.

We are a group of academics who are unhealthily obsessed with at the penalty shootout. In particular, we want to find out if penalty shootouts are fair, if they have an impact on the style of football played in the first 120 minutes of the fixture, and if people believe the penalty shootout is the best way to determine the fixture of drawn games in the knockout stages of international football tournaments.

Over the next few months, we will disseminate our findings on this web site. But first, we need your help. We want to know what you think about penalty shootouts.

  • Do you like them?
  • Do you think they are fair?
  • Do you think they are a lottery?
  • Do you think footballers should practice them?
  • Do you think there is something better?

Please click the following link to go to our survey of people's opinions about penalty shootouts. It will only take ten minutes (honest) and you can answer the questionnaire without leaving any details about yourself. 

CLICK HERE to complete the survey

So far the results (n=383) of our survey indicate that:

  • Only 33% enjoy watching penalty shootouts when their team is involved
  • But 84% enjoy watching other teams suffer in penalty shootouts
  • Only half of our respondents are happy that penalty shootouts are used in games when their team is involved
  • 69% believe that if footballers practice taking penalties they will increase the likelihood of scoring in a shootout
  • Only 35% believe that the possibility of going to a shootout influences the nature of the football during the first 90 minutes
  • But 87% believe that the possibility of going to a shootout influences the nature of the football during extra time
  • 51% of people who expressed a view believe that penalty shootouts are a lottery
  • People are evenly split on whether extra time should be extended to two periods of 20 minutes rather than two periods of 15 minutes
  • Half of the people surveyed believed there was a better way than penalty shootouts to determine the result of drawn games in international football tournaments

Latest News

World Cup 2010

The first penalty shootout settled a tame and dull draw between Paraguay and Japan in the round of the last 16. Paraguay beat Japan 5-3 on penalties (29/6/2010; Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria; http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/matches/match_55) after the third Japanese player, Yuichi Komano, thundered his spot kick off the bar. The second penalty shootout of the tournament settled the dramatic quarter final between Uruguay and Ghana. In the last minute of extra-time, Uruguayan forward, Luis Suarez, deliberately handled on the line to prevent a Ghanian winner. Amazingly, Ghanian star forward, Asamoah Gyan, then smashed the ball against the crossbar and on to penalties we went. Going first, Uruguay scored four of their five penalties and Ghana missed two of their four (2/7/2010; Johannesburg; http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/football/world_cup_2010/matches/match_58). This World Cup has highlighted technology deficiencies, but this game added the need to examine the laws. Whilst the referee got it right according to the rules, many people expressed the view that Uruguay had benefitted fron cheating; why doesn't football have the sanction of the 'penalty goal' when a goal would certainly have been scored?

European Championships 2008

So far... what a disappointment. After the promise of penalty shootouts in the group stages to separate best teams, second teams and worst teams, none. But finally we got one in the quarter finals. After the peculiar Germany-Portugal game which was entertaining and full of goals, knockout games settled down to their dreary fear-filled stalemates (which briefly broke out into a two-minute game of football after two hours of Turkey and Croatia - never can you be more convinced that it is vital to give one team the edge going into the game - sitting through Spain and Italy made that even more clear), Turkey beat Croatia 3-1 on penalties (20/6/2008; Vienna). And in the final quarter final, Spain beat Italy 4-2 on penalties (22/6/2008; Vienna) which was quite an event given that Spain had lost three previous pealty shootouts on the 22nd June.

Asian Cup 2007

There was one semi final and two quarter finals that were decided by penalty shootout. In the semi final, Iraq beat Korea 4-3 on penalties after a 0-0 draw (25/7/2007; Bukit Jalil). In the first quarter final, Japan beat Australia 4-3 on penalties after a 1-1 draw (21/7/2007; Hanoi). In the second, Korea overcame Iran in the penalty shootout 4-2 after a 0-0 draw (22/7/2007; Kuala Lumpur)

Copa América 2007

Just one penalty shootout this year with Brazil beating Uruguay 5-4 in the shootout after a 2-2 draw (11/7/2007; Maraicabo, Venezuela).

England lose again!

Wednesday 20th June 2007 was a momentous day in the history of the penalty shootout as the two worst teams in international football at taking penalty shootouts went head-to-head in a penalty shootout. England and the Netherlands played each other in the semi-final of the U21 European Championships. Each team took 16 penalties with the Dutch coming out victors 13-12. For the full story from the BBC: Click here. Another generation of English footballers are knocked out of an important tournament via the supposed 'lottery' of the penalty shootout tournament.