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The football penalty shoot-out – my solution

simon gray 2010-06-25, 09:54:57
Read this article aloud — 469 words

Because I don’t actually care about the football, it was only subsequently that I learned the news that England had won its game against (who was it again?), meaning they get to go through to the next round in the World Cup. This is the phase where teams start to get knocked out when they lose.

It’s also the phase where traditionally England always loses, because the game always ends the first 90 minutes with a draw, then ends the 30 minutes of extra time still with a draw, then ends with England losing because whoever is the current star striker misses one more crucial penalty than the other side.

Notwithstanding the fact that I don’t care about the football, I’ve always thought the penalty shoot out to be an unfair method of resolving an unresolved game where a decisive end is necessary. Nobody ‘wins’ on penalties, the losing team only loses on them. The winners don’t win because they’re a better team, and the losers don’t win because they’re a worse one – it’s nothing more than a matter of luck which striker or goalie happens to make the first mistake first. They might just as fairly settle the issue by tossing a coin.

I’ve always thought they should take a leaf out of the world of pinball.


I love pinball – even though I’ve never been able to properly see the balls, it’s something that – whilst I’ve never been very good at – I’m not a total disaster at. I like the way it’s an analogue game, with real physics, and intrigued by the variety of games possible with just a table, a steel ball, some flippers, and some boingy things.

I think the world of football, when it has reached deadlock at the end of extra time, should introduce multiball:

What they could do after the 30 minutes extra time has elapsed is just keep playing as normal, and chuck an extra ball on to the pitch. Every five minutes, they chuck another one on, and just keep on playing until the first team scores.

I think that would be a much better test of the skill of the players – of all of the players, both attack and defence, than the current penalty shoot-out method. It’d be much more fun to watch, too!

Has anybody got Sepp Blatter’s email address?


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The code behind this site is a bit of an abandoned project; I originally had lofty ambitions of it being the start of a competitor for Twitter and Facebook, allowing other people to also use it turning it into a bit of a social network. Needless to say I got so far with it and thought who did I think I was! Bits of it don't work as well as I'd like it to work - at some point I'm going to return to it and do a complete rebuild according to modern standards.