Sepp Blatter: Penalty shoot-outs must remain, they’re football’s great leveller
It is interesting that the honorary president of Bayern Munich, Franz Beckenbauer, has been tasked with finding an alternative to the penalty shoot-out. He must have been as upset as anyone at Bayern’s unfortunate loss to the sixth-placed Premier League side.
Dare I say then, that his current mindset may not be remotely dispassionate or balanced – as we would expect of a man poised to reshape our beautiful game.
Sepp Blatter, a man who many believe to be the wrong man to head up Fifa, due to his controversial past comments on hand shakes and homosexuality, is apparently so much in favour of the abolition of football’s climatic fore that he has spoken out before the upcoming Euro 2012 competition this summer. The Swiss has called penalty shoot-outs a “tragedy,” with which football “losses its essence.” So what are the alternatives?
There’s the golden goal of course, a previously trialled formula that would seem the most ideal candidate. It provides a thrilling end, and does so in a reasonably fair and appropriate manner. It replaces extra time, and significantly reduces the chances of a shoot-out with a single goal bringing the tie to an end, as it did in the Euro 2000 final.
Or, as prior to 1970, such situations were settled with a replay, drawing lots or indeed, the toss of a coin. There are some who might argue these to be the ‘fairest’ way in deciding an even contest – though I would imagine all would prove to be formidably unpopular choices.
The boredom of such practice heavily outweighs any talk of equality. A replay is simply off the cards in an international tournament, and drawing lots or tossing a coin takes more essence out of football than Sepp Blatter himself does. Well, almost.
The problem is, many football matches in tournaments such as the Euros do not bring about a ‘fair’ result. The same applies to club football. Sure, Chelsea had far less of the ball than Bayern Munich, and while the German side played at home, it probably would have been a similar situation in any European city. But that’s what makes football so special; the fact that however good a team is, the contester still has a chance. Look at Greece, a country talked about at the moment for all the wrong reasons; they won Euro 2004 while remaining explicit underdogs throughout. The final against hosts Portugal was startlingly close to a shoot-out before Greece scored a dramatic winner. On ’statistics’ Portugal should have been the team opening the Champagne. Football is not a game of mathematics.
Chelsea beat Barcelona to get to the final this May. However they did it, they deserved to be there – throughout football’s history the lesser team has often triumphed in the face of adversity. And the fact is, defending is as much an element of the game as attacking is. It may be more exciting to watch Brazil or Argentina dance up the pitch weaving a tear-jerking tapestry of footballing brilliance, but they need teams to hang that tapestry over. They need teams like England.
Others have suggested slightly more enigmatic solutions to the apparent tragedy of spot kick decidability. The Mail today has come up with some of their own, such as ‘rock, paper, scissors’ – though probably more in jest than in proposition. That said, it is clear there are some other than Blatter himself who perhaps believe spot-kicks to be outdated or unjust.
As England supporters, we should scorn at any such deciding factor within football. On so many occasions have we watched our team fall foul at a single kick of a football.
But penalty shoot-outs should remain. They need to remain. They have been the nail-biting, gut-wrenching, heart-on-the-sleeve series of golden moments so many of us have witnessed. Even if they mean the ‘lesser’ team comes out victorious, it simply shows they defended with all their might and fought hard to be there.
I am all for flowing football – the English game more than any other needs to improve at that – but don’t take away the worthy climax that has brought fans across the world to their knees, brought silence across continents and a pressure only accountable to a player earning millions of pounds a year. An individual stepping up to their deliverance might
seem sacrificial, but that’s the theatre of it, right?
And, if nothing else, we wouldn’t have the topic to discuss in years to come in the pub or in the park. The Gareth Southgate miss; the David Beckham calamity; the end of the world as we know it through one single throw of the dice.
To quote one Twitter user: “Penalty Shootouts are football’s great levellers. Don’t need to fix what’s not broken. We need an alternative to Sepp Blatter.” Well, that pretty much sums it up, doesn’t it?Tagged in: chelsea, england, euro 2012, FIFA, football, Sepp Blatter, Sport
Recent Posts on Football
- A changing of the guards in English football: From Sir Alex Ferguson to Jose Mourinho
- Nike kit deal puts England at No 2 in the world (but which country is top?)
- PSG and the French league must be more proactive in dealing with hooliganism
- The ghost at the feast: Luiz Felipe Scolari hopes that dropping Ronaldinho for the Confederations Cup won't come back to haunt Brazil
- Anthony Knockaert and other examples of sporting justice
Latest from Independent journalists on Twitter