World Cup Football Matches – Golden Goal Alternatives to Prevent Penalty Shootouts

The penalty shoot out was the way in which the World Cup finals were decided. Sepp Blatter, FIFA’s all-powerful president, stated that there must be an alternative to penalties and that he does not want to see matches or, more importantly, World Cup matches end in this fashion. What is the alternative, though?

In the 1996 European Championship, an event that will be remembered by all Englishmen, was the first time we saw the potential for penalties to be avoided and adaptation. The so-called Golden Goal’ allowed for a normal amount of extra-time to be played, but any goal would immediately win the game. This was basically an upgraded version of the popular playground saying ‘next goals wins’. This idea was likely inspired by the 1994 World Cup finals in Pasadena, where a dour affair took place between Brazil and Italy.

Personally, I remember Gianluca Paliuca, an Italian goalkeeper, failing to score a brazilian attempt. But it was back up, saving Sampdoria’s stopper. That moment would have made for memorable Christmas ‘blooper video’ moments for many years to come. The dull affair was decided by penalties. South American’s took their fourth title 맨션티비. The next major international tournament was modified in the hope that “Golden Goal” would have a similar reaction as its playground origins, which saw men pushing forward in search of goals. However, what Mr. Blatter (and the many ‘yes’ men he surrounded himself with) didn’t realize was that a major international tournament is quite different from the scene where twenty-odd twelve-year olds forced a tennisball into a goal made from a bin and someone’s satchel.

If proceedings are extended beyond control, it is highly unlikely that any other members of the footballing elite will issue a similar reprimand. Only one game of the 1996 tournament was settled before penalties were applied. This happened in the final, when Oliver Bierhoff, Germany, won the match. We Bavarians are now singing the Three Lions’ summer anthem. In 1998, the World Cup was held in France. This method of avoiding penalties for deciding fixtures was again used. However, only one game was resolved in this way (Laurent Blanc’s strike against Paraguay in the second round). This idea had its problems. The pressure of losing by conceding outweighed any cavalier approach required to score. As a result, the game became less positive. France still benefited from the system in 2000’s European Championship final. David Trezeguet broke Italian hearts with his net-bursting strike.

There are a few exceptions to this rule. However, the argument has been raised that sudden death periods of extra time prevent attacking play, rather than provoke it. The fear of defeat outweighs those who want to pursue a winning goal. The FIFA think-tank decided to alter this idea by creating the ‘Silver Goal’. It is essentially a more complex version of its predecessor, in which the side that wins the tie in the extra time interval would win it. Another round of shootouts followed, as games turned more negative. Despite all attempts to avoid the inevitable “twelve-yard lottery”, it was still the most commonly used method of deciding fixtures that were even after ninety minute.

These were scrapped and for the 2006 tournament we returned the traditional half hour of extra-time, without all the previous stipulations. We also had more penalties. Is there a solution, or is it not? Replays are unlikely due to the time and tight schedules that result mainly from major media and sponsorship tie ins at major tournaments. This great problem of the knockout game has been solved by many different ways. One theory suggests that players should be removed from the game at regular intervals. This is in the hope that fewer players will lead to more space and therefore more chances. 

FIFA are said be investigating the possibility of such an idea. But, it is possible that we end up with an absurd situation where four, maybe even two, of the players on the field. Although it might be a dream for spectators, the practicality of this scenario must be challenged. If viewed in this manner, it might even be possible to make the satirical “extra-time multiball” a viable proposition, as featured in American beer manufacturer’s ads. Some have also criticized penalties for not reflecting the skill level of the entire team.

This is without question, and it was best illustrated in the 1991 European Cup final, where Olymique Marseilles lost to Red Star Belgrade, then Yugoslavia. In that game, the star studded Olymique Marseilles squad played out the entire match with the goal of winning on penalties. They did win, much to the dismay of an unbiased observer.

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