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Monday, 3 July, 2000, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Penalty deciders: are they fair?

Holland are out of the Euro2000 championships. For the first time in the tournament the outcome was decided by a penalty shoot-out at the end of a goalless 120-minute match.

Holland actually missed two penalties in regulation time and couldn't take advantage of the fact that Italy had a man sent off early in the second half. Still, the penalty decider leaves a lot of people feeling uneasy about the fairness of the outcome.

Is a penalty shoot-out the best way of getting a result in closely contested match? Is it fair, or is it just a lottery? And if you don't like them, what alternatives might there be?

This debate is now closed. Read a selection of your comments below.


Your reaction



At the end of a game there has to be a loser

William Milliken, Scotland
At the end of a game there has to be a loser. It doesn't matter how well or otherwise you played. If you don't score the goals during the match, you know what is coming. If you don't like penalties then win the match during the 90.
William Milliken, Scotland

The rules should to set to encourage attacking play. It cannot be right for a team like Italy to win by play for penalties from the start. If the game is a draw, the team that has spent the most time in the opponent's half should win.
Rob, UK

Like most people, I am ambivalent about penalty shoot-outs. They are very exciting, but somehow depressing too. Even if you win them it somehow feels wrong. There is no excuse for having a final decided like that - a replay is a must. I also like the idea of having the shoot-out before extra time. That way one team has the incentive to go all out, taking whatever risks. It should make for a thrilling thirty minutes. I would however scrap the golden goal - that has done nothing to help.
Martin D, England

Penalty shootouts are the best way to decide a game. True, a bad team could win on penalties by holding to a draw but penalties are the height of the climax. Besides, Holland should have hit at least one of the two penalties. They could have avoided the penalty shoot-out. They dug their own grave.
Uday Kumar, USA

All football is about is making goals. Penalty shoot-outs show clearly which team really wants to win the match. Holland have a handful of very skilled players but they just want to win. They lack the mental strength that shoot-outs require. It´s not unfair, it's just cruel. Winning and losing are cruel.
Marcelo Cavallari, Brazil

Obviously it is not a true indication, but just suppose if a 100-metre sprint decided it, or if that fails a pie-eating contest.
Kieran Robet, England

Penalties are a perfect example of the psychology of sport. It undoubtedly takes a lot of courage to step up and take the shot, but it is a skill that can be practised. Holland did not want it to go to penalties, Italy actively did. Italy won the mental battle and hence the game. Penalties make for a level playing field after normal time and they should remain.
Jason Braid, UK



Penalty shoot-outs are condensed excitement in the extreme

Ben, UK
I can't understand why everyone doesn't love penalty shoot-outs. Golden goals? Now there's a mistake - extra time come-backs can be the most exciting football in an otherwise ordinary game. But penalty shoot-outs are condensed excitement in the extreme. The pressure is unbelievable and any watching fans can't fail to be touched by the tension. I know, I'm an Arsenal fan!!
Ben, UK

How about this? It may encourage negative teams like Italy to attack more. If after 90 minutes and extra time there is no result then the team with the most number of corner kicks wins. If they are still equal then the team with the least number of bookings wins.
Duncan Penman, Scotland

The winner should be chosen on the basis of the following very important criteria-
1. Number of shots on goal and corners won
2. Total time in possession
3. Time spent in opponents half
This is a clear reflection of each team's performance and effort to score, and the only fair and equitable solution, in the event of a draw after the regular and overtime play. Penalty shootout is only a lottery.
Neil Aloysius, Canada



It is not testing the team's skill or ability, but testing how well they can whack a ball into the goal

Adam Butler, England
I think that taking penalties is not a fair way of deciding the winner of a game. It is not testing the team's skill or ability, but testing how well they can whack a ball into the goal and beat a chanceless keeper.
Adam Butler, England

As an Englishman, I have been far from happy at seeing my team knocked out on penalties in 1990, 1996 and 1998, but I must say there is nothing to beat the sheer tension and excitement. It's a great way to decide a tie. Points systems? Pah!
As for Holland being knocked out unfairly, they obviously weren't good enough on the day to put the ball in the net, and paid the consequences.
Ed Bayley, USA (English)

Each team should be given five attempts to shoot on goal from whichever point they choose, starting from the centre of the field and have 30 seconds to do that. Very much like they do in the American league.
Jes, Denmark



Counting yellow cards would remove tackling even more from the current state of the 'mis-timed tackle and you're in the book' game

Lee Humphreys, England
Penalty shoot-outs are the best and only way to settle a game. Taking players off or counting up yellow cards is not feasible. Counting yellow cards would remove tackling even more from the current state of the 'mis-timed tackle and you're in the book' game.
Holland had more than just the two penalty chances to win the game and they didn't take them. Playing for penalties, though not attractive to watch is a tactic that worked for Leicester in the cup last season and it worked for Italy last night. If you're still not happy, check the record books and it will inform you that Italy are in the final and Holland are not. End of argument. Or is it?
Lee Humphreys, England

One suggestion I have heard is to have the penalty shoot-out BEFORE playing extra time. That way, the team which lost the shoot-out would have 30 minutes to put things right. All the other suggestions, such as calculating a winner based on the number of corners, cards etc. would be open to abuse.
Brian Whitby, Switzerland

Would we expect boxing matches to be decided by penalty punches? Why not give the final decision to the ref?
D Prince, UK



If the threat of a replay isn't enough to make teams go all out to score during extra time, nothing will!

William Alberque, USA
Tied games at full time will increasingly go to shoot outs because neither team wishes to give up the "golden goal" in extra time. We should go back to a situation where both teams must play out the full 30 minutes of extra time, and whichever team is ahead then wins. if there's no score, there should be a replay. If the threat of a replay isn't enough to make teams go all out to score during extra time, nothing will!
William Alberque, USA

Let them fight to the death. After Golden Goal, there should be no more breaks, no more subs, and the first team to score wins. If players are taken off because of cramp etc. they only have themselves to blame for not having finished it off in 90 minutes. And a pleasant side-effect... time wasting would be pointless.
Gina, UK

Penalties are currently the best solution given the alternatives. The red and yellow card count is an awful idea, placing yet more pressure on referees and opening up the opportunity for more cries of injustice. Corner counts sound like a good idea until you realise that wily coaches will have kept count and approach the end of games by getting their players to win the necessary number of corners.
If you want a real alternative, how about this - at the end of 90 minutes, play fifteen minutes extra time. If it's level after that, play the second half of extra time without the offside law. You'd never need penalties again and you'd probably see a hatful of goals.
Adam, France



If you can't win with at least two open goal chances, you deserve to get kicked out of the cup

Lucas van der Hoeven, The Netherlands
I think Holland didn't deserve to win. Even as a fellow supporter, I think that if you can't win with at least two open goal chances, you deserve to get kicked out of the cup. Italy played one of their worst games and still Holland couldn't get the ball past the goalie even with two penalties. The golden dream is truly gone...
Lucas van der Hoeven, The Netherlands

I do really feel ashamed of the way the Italian team won last night. Defending all the time is not the way to play football.. It is a pity that ONLY the result counts now in this business game...no more "fairplay" but only the final score and reward for the players.
Instead of penalties I suggest to extend the match to the last and repeat it in the following day if necessaryżas it was in the old days.
Giovanni Girelli, Italy



No penalty shootouts, no sudden death overtime

John Alkire
No penalty shootouts, no sudden death overtime. Continue playing additional periods until there is a winner. It may make for some long matches but the win will have been earned.
John Alkire, UK/ USA

Boxing determines a winner at the end of a "drawn" fight by a points system. This system should be used in tournament football matches to bias a win for attacking teams rather than draw specialists
Richard Pavey, England

They should have a replay especially in the advanced levels of the tournament.
Debnath Basu, India

Surly any team that fails to score 5 penalties in a match does not deserve to make it to a competition final. Italy played to their strengths, and won the game because of it.
Mark Lockwood, UK

Penalties may be cruel, but how else can you break stalemates? A points system as in boxing would be frankly, boring and open to tremendous debate. It is terrible how individual players are singled out for missing penalties though.
Paul, UK



The very nature of the game dictates that there must be a winner and a loser at the end of the day

Simon Morris, England
The very nature of the game dictates that there must be a winner and a loser at the end of the day. Can anyone suggest a more exciting, thrilling (and soul destroying) solution to the game?
Simon Morris, England

A completely unsatisfying and unfair ending to any match that ends in a tie. Only slightly better than the USA vs Brazil coin flip. Why even play the game? Take players off the field in overtime and open it up for a real score.
Ed Riley, USA

Very simply, the team with the least amount of red, then yellow cards wins the game. If both teams have the same number of cards, then the team with the least yellow cards in previous matches then wins the tournament. In the very unlikely event that both teams are level why not have joint champions? This would mean that teams would be much more accountable for their conduct.
James, France

Penalty-taking is the most exciting way to settle a match from a neutral perspective. 5 shots each - who's got the nerve?
Robert O'Grady, Ireland

Penalties are very rarely a show of skill, but Toldo appears to be big enough, fast enough, and skilful enough to stop a number of those eleven metre shots. He was blocking them consistently during the semi-final game! In most cases penalties are a combination of chance and psychological intimidation, but as soon as the semi-finals game went to penalties, it was clear that Italy would win by dint of saving skill. With most other teams, however, penalties are just a nerve-wracking lottery game.
Ibrahim El-Mouelhy, Hong Kong

The winner of a football game is decided by goals. In a game a team can play very badly and win. If there is a stalemate at the end of a game it would be difficult to judge the winner by the number of corner kicks or whatever parameters might be dreamed up. At the end of the day football is about goals and the penalty shoot-out is the best option in these circumstances. It might be a good idea for teams to specialise in spot kicks as well. The Germans have mastered that art. Yesterday the Italians proved that they have also learnt from their past experiences with penalties and the Dutch who had still not learnt their lesson paid the price. It isn't fair but it is not a lottery.
Osei Afrifa, England

Your own leader says it all: Holland failed against a 10 man team, with 2 penalty opportunities and, in my opinion, the referee as their twelfth man. They didn't deserve to be in the final. I have no idea why the final result makes people uneasy.
J Hatwell, UK

No sympathy for the Dutch really. If they can't put away 2 penalties in normal time they don't deserve to go through during sudden death. Roll on an Italian win on Sunday!
Toby Evison, England



Penalties are an incentive for inferior teams to play for a draw in the hope they get lucky in the shoot out as Italy did last night

Paul Wilson, England
Penalties are an incentive for inferior teams to play for a draw in the hope they get lucky in the shoot out as Italy did last night. A points system based on shots on goal, corners won, time spent in the opponents half or even the disciplinary record of the teams during the match would produce a result that better reflects the relative merits of the teams playing. Any of these or a combination of them would have given Holland their rightfully deserved win last night.
Paul Wilson, England

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See also:

30 Jun 00 | Italy
Toldo makes his mark
29 Jun 00 | Holland
Van Gaal favourite for Dutch job
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