A penalty shoot-out (officially kicks from the penalty mark) is a method of determining the winner of an association football (soccer) match that is drawn after the regulation as well as extra playing time. In a penalty shoot-out, each team takes turns attempting a specified number of shots (5 in FIFA-governed football) from the penalty mark that are only defended by the opposing team's goalkeeper, with the team scoring the most goals being declared the winner. Although the procedure for taking kicks from the penalty mark resembles that of a penalty kick, there are some differences. Most notably, neither the kicker nor any player other than the goalkeeper may play the ball again once it has been kicked.
- National team
- Domestic cups
- UEFA club competitions
- Win or draw?
- North American experiments
The method of breaking a draw in a match requiring a winner is determined beforehand by the match organizing body. FIFA-sanctioned competitions and most professional level competitions employ kicks from the penalty mark following one or more extra periods of play ("extra time"); the length and number of extra periods as well as whether or not they are sudden death are also stipulated by the match organizing body. Although employed in football commonly since the 1970s, penalty shoot-outs remain unpopular with some, due primarily to their perceived reliance on luck rather than skill.
During a shoot-out, coaches, players other than the kicker and the goalkeepers must remain in the centre circle. The kicking team's goalkeeper stands at the intersection of the goal line and the penalty area (18-yard) line near one of the assistant referees. Goals scored during the shoot-out are not included in the final score, nor are they added to the goalscoring records of the players involved.
A tie is a common result in football. Shoot-outs are only used in competitions that require a match-winner at the end of the game - this is predominantly in knockout "cup" ties, as opposed to round-robin "leagues"; they will determine which team will progress to the next round of a tournament, or win it. Usually extra time has been played first, but this is not necessary; exceptions include the Copa Libertadores, the FA Community Shield and the Football League Trophy, all of which use shoot-outs straight after the end of normal time. Exceptionally, a shoot-out after a league or round-robin match may be provided for. This provision appears for occasions where opposing teams in a final-day match finish the group with identical records, which can result in an immediate shoot-out. This happened in Group A of the 2003 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship. This rule is a recent innovation, and for example did not apply in Group F of the 1990 World Cup, where the Republic of Ireland and the Netherlands were separated by drawing of lots immediately after finishing their final-day match in a draw.
Several leagues, such as the J-League, have experimented with penalty shoot-outs immediately following a drawn league match, with the winner being awarded an extra point. In the United States and Canada, Major League Soccer initially also had a shoot-out immediately following the end of full-time, even during league matches, although these shoot-outs differed from standard penalty shoot-outs (see below).
A team that loses a penalty shoot-out is eliminated from the tournament but it does not count as a defeat, while the winning team in the shoot-out advances but does not get a match victory. For instance, the Netherlands are considered to have concluded the 2014 FIFA World Cup undefeated, despite being eliminated at the semi-final stage.
The following is a summary of the procedure for kicks from the penalty mark. The procedure is specified in Law 10 ("Determining the Outcome of a Match") of the IFAB's Laws of the Game document (p. 71).
- The referee tosses a coin to decide the goal at which the kicks will be taken. The choice of goal by the coin toss winner may only be changed by the referee for safety reasons or if the goal or playing surface becomes unusable.
- The referee tosses the coin a second time to determine which team will take the first kick.
- All players other than the kicker and the goalkeepers must remain in the pitch's centre circle (see above).
- Each kick will be taken in the general manner of a penalty kick. Each kick will be taken from the penalty mark, which is 12 yards (11 m) from the goal line and equidistant from each touch line, with the goal defended only by the opposing goalkeeper. The goalkeeper must remain between the goal posts on his goal line until the ball has been kicked, although he can jump in place, wave his arms, move side to side along the goal line or otherwise try to distract the shooter.
- Each team is responsible for selecting from the eligible players the order in which they will take the kicks. The referee is not informed of the order.
- Each kicker can kick the ball only once per attempt. Once kicked, the kicker may not play the ball again.
- No other player on either team, other than the designated kicker and goalkeeper, may touch the ball.
- A kick is successful if, having been touched once by the kicker, the ball crosses the goal line between the goal posts and under the crossbar, without touching any player, official, or outside agent other than the defending goalkeeper. The ball may touch the goalkeeper, goal posts, or crossbar any number of times before going into the goal as long as the referee believes the ball's motion is the result of the initial kick. This was clarified after an incident in the 1986 World Cup shoot-out between Brazil and France. Bruno Bellone's kick rebounded out off the post, hit goalkeeper Carlos's back, and subsequently bounced into the goal. Referee Ioan Igna gave the goal to France, and Brazil captain Edinho was booked for protesting that the kick should have been considered a miss as soon as it rebounded off the post. In 1987, the International Football Association Board clarified Law 14, covering penalty kicks, to support Igna's decision.
- Teams take turns to kick from the penalty mark until each has taken five kicks. However, if one side has scored more successful kicks than the other could possibly reach with all of its remaining kicks, the shoot-out immediately ends regardless of the number of kicks remaining; this basis is called "best of five kicks".
- If at the end of these five rounds of kicks the teams have scored an equal number of successful kicks, additional rounds of one kick each will be used until the tie is broken; this is known as sudden death.
- The team that scores the most successful kicks at the end of the shoot-out will be winner of the match.
- Only players who were on the pitch at the end of play or temporarily absent (injured, adjusting equipment etc) will be allowed to participate in the shoot-out. If If at the end of the match and before or during the kicks one side has more players on the pitch than the other, whether as a result of injury or red cards, then the side with more players must reduce its numbers to match the opponents; this is known as 'reduce to equate.' For example, if Team A has 11 players but Team B only has 10, then Team A will choose one player who will not take part. Players excluded this way normally take no further part in the procedure, with the exception that they can be used to replace an injured goalkeeper. The rule was introduced by the International Football Association Board in February 2000 because previously an eleventh kick would be taken by the eleventh (i.e. weakest) player of a full-strength team and the first (i.e. strongest) player of a sub-strength team. A rule change in 2016 eliminated the potential for a team to gain such an advantage if a player is injured or sent off during the shoot-out.
- A team may replace a goalkeeper who becomes injured during the shoot-out with a substitute (provided the team has not already used the maximum number of substitutes allowed by the competition) or by a player previously excluded under the 'reduce to equate' provision.
- If a goalkeeper is sent off during the shoot-out, another player who finished the game must act as goalkeeper.
- If a player, other than the goalkeeper, becomes injured or is sent off during the shoot-out, then the shoot-out will continue with no substitution allowed. The opposing team must reduce its numbers accordingly.
- Any player remaining on the pitch may act as goalkeeper, and it is not required for the same player to have acted as a goalkeeper during the game.
- No player will be allowed to take a second kick until all other eligible players on their team have taken a first kick, including the goalkeeper.
- If it becomes necessary for players to take another kick (because the score has remained equal after all eligible players have taken their first kick), players are not required to kick in the same order.
- Kicks from the penalty mark must not be delayed for a player who leaves the field of play. The player’s kick will be forfeited (not scored) if the player does not return in time to take a kick.
- The referee must not abandon the match if, during the kicks, a team is reduced to fewer than seven players.
Defending against a penalty kick is one of the most difficult tasks a goalkeeper can face. Some decide which way they will dive beforehand, giving themselves time to reach the side of the goalmouth. A 2011 study published in the journal Psychological Science found goalkeepers dived to the right 71% of the time when their team was losing, but only 48% when ahead and 49% when tied, a phenomenon believed to be related to certain right-preferring behaviour in social mammals. Others try to read the kicker's motion pattern. Kickers may attempt to feint, or delay their shot to see which way the keeper dives. Shooting high and centre, in the space that the keeper will evacuate, carries the highest risk of shooting above the bar. If a keeper blocks a penalty kick during a match, there is a danger the kicker or a team-mate may score from the rebound; this is not relevant in the case of a shoot-out.
The crowd behind the goal may favour one team and try to distract the other team's shooters. To forestall this, referees may choose the less partisan goal for the shootout. A goalkeeper may use distracting gamesmanship such as cleaning his boots or asking the referee to see if the ball is placed properly; this risks a caution for unsporting conduct. Bruce Grobbelaar's "wobbly legs" clowning distracted Francesco Graziani in the 1984 European Cup Final shootout. The keeper is forbidden from moving off the goal line to narrow the shooter's angle; the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final shootout caused controversy as replays showed that both keepers got away with this, as did Jerzy Dudek in the 2005 Champions League Final.
Before the introduction of shoot-outs, knock-out matches level after extra time would be decided by a replay or a coin toss. However, variants of the modern shoot-out were used before then in several domestic competitions and minor tournaments. Domestic examples include the Yugoslav Cup from 1952, the Coppa Italia from 1958–59, and the Swiss inter-regional Youth Cup from 1959–60. International examples include the 1962 Uhrencup (at the suggestion of its founder Kurt Weissbrodt), the final of the 1962 Ramón de Carranza Trophy (at the suggestion of journalist Rafael Ballester), and a silver medal playoff match between amateur teams representing Venezuela and Bolivia in the 1965 Bolivarian Games.
In major competitions, when a replay or playoff was not possible, ties were previously broken by drawing of lots. Examples include Italy's win over the USSR in the semi-final of the 1968 European Championship (the final, also drawn, went to a replay).
Israeli Yosef Dagan is credited with originating the modern shoot-out, after watching the Israeli team lose a 1968 Olympic quarterfinal game against Bulgaria by drawing of lots in Mexico. Michael Almog, later president of the Israel FA, described Dagan's proposal in a letter published in FIFA News in August 1969. Koe Ewe Teik, the Malaysian FA's member of the referee's committee, led the move for its adoption by FIFA. FIFA's proposal was discussed on 20 February 1970 by a working party of the International Football Association Board (IFAB), which recommended its acceptance, although "not entirely satisfied" with it. It was adopted by the IFAB's annual general meeting on 27 June 1970. In 2006, Deutsche Presse-Agentur reported a claim by former referee Karl Wald (b. 1916), from Frankfurt am Main, that he had first proposed the shoot-out in 1970 to the Bavarian FA.
In England, the first penalty shoot-out in a professional match took place in 1970 at Boothferry Park, Hull, between Hull City and Manchester United during the semi-final of the Watney Cup, and was won by Manchester United. The first player to take a kick was George Best, and the first to miss was Denis Law. Ian McKechnie, who saved Law's kick, was also the first goalkeeper to take a kick; his shot hit the crossbar and deflected over, putting Hull City out of the Cup.
Penalty shoot-outs were used to decide matches in UEFA's European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup in the 1970–71 season. On 30 September 1970, after a 4–4 aggregate draw in the first round of the Cup Winners' Cup, Honvéd won the first shoot-out 5–4 against Aberdeen, when Jim Forrest's shot hit the bar. Five weeks later, on 4 November 1970, the first ever European Cup shoot out took place between Everton F.C. and Borussia Mönchengladbach, with the side from England this time being the winners 4–3.
In the first round of the European Cup 1972–73, the referee prematurely ended a shoot-out between CSKA Sofia and Panathinaikos, with CSKA leading 3–2 but Panathinaikos having taken only four kicks. Panathinaikos complained to UEFA and the match was annulled and replayed the following month, with CSKA winning without the need for a shoot-out.
The final of the 1973 Campeonato Paulista ended in similar circumstances. Santos were leading Portuguesa 2–0 with each team having taken three shoot-out kicks, when referee Armando Marques mistakenly (as each team still had two shots to take, and therefore Portuguesa still had a chance of leveling the scoreline) declared Santos the winners. Portuguesa manager Otto Glória quickly led his team out of the stadium; this was allegedly to ensure the shoot-out could not resume once the mistake was discovered, and that instead the match would be replayed, giving Portuguesa a better chance of victory. When Santos counter-objected to a replay, Paulista FA president Osvaldo Teixeira Duarte annulled the original match and declared both teams joint champions.
The first major international tournament to be decided by a penalty shoot-out was the 1976 European Championship final between Czechoslovakia and West Germany. UEFA had made provision for a final replay two days later, but the teams decided to use a shoot-out instead. Czechoslovakia won 5–3, and the deciding kick was converted by Antonín Panenka with a "chip" after Uli Hoeneß had put the previous kick over the crossbar.
The first penalty shoot-out in the World Cup was on 9 January 1977, in the first round of African qualifying, when Tunisia beat Morocco. The first shoot-out in the finals tournament was in 1982, when West Germany beat France in the semifinal. If the 1982 final had been drawn, penalties would not have applied unless the replay was also drawn; from 1986, penalties were scheduled after the final as for the earlier knockout rounds.
The finals of six major FIFA competitions, including two World Cups, have gone to penalty shoot-outs:
Goalkeepers have been known to win shoot-outs by their kicking. For example, in a UEFA Euro 2004 quarter-final match, Portugal goalkeeper Ricardo saved a kick (without gloves) from England's Darius Vassell, and then scored the winning shot. Another example is Vélez Sársfield's José Luis Chilavert in the Copa Libertadores 1994 finals (it should be noted that Chilavert had a reputation as a dead-ball specialist and scored 41 goals during his club career).
Antonín Panenka (Czechoslovakia) decided the penalty shoot-out at the final of the 1976 European Football Championship against West Germany with a famous chip to the middle of the goal.
The English, and, to a slightly lesser extent, the Dutch and Italian national teams are known for their poor records in penalty shoot-outs. England has lost six (out of seven) penalty shoot-outs in major tournament finals, including losses to Germany in the semi-finals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 96. After UEFA Euro 96 England lost five shoot-outs in a row in eight major tournament finals, losing to Germany at Euro 96, Argentina at the 1998 World Cup, Portugal at Euro 2004 and the 2006 World Cup and Italy at Euro 2012.
The Netherlands, meanwhile, lost four consecutive shoot-outs; against Denmark in Euro 92, France in Euro 96, Brazil in the 1998 World Cup, and Italy in Euro 2000, before finally winning one against Sweden in Euro 2004. In Euro 2000, the Netherlands had two penalty kicks and four from shootout kicks, but only managed to convert one kick against Italian keeper Francesco Toldo. Frank de Boer had both a penalty kick and shootout kick saved by Toldo, who also saved from Paul Bosvelt to give Italy a 3–1 shootout victory. Penalty kick fortunes have seemed to improve during the 2014 World Cup when the Netherlands defeated Costa Rica on penalty kicks in their quarter-final (only to lose again on penalties in their semi-final against Argentina).
The Italians have lost six shoot-outs in major championships, notably being eliminated from three consecutive World Cup (1990–1998) and the EURO2016 finals on penalties . However, they have also won three shoot-outs, including the Euro 2000 semi-final, the Euro 2012 quarter-final against England, and the 2006 World Cup Final against France.
On 16 November 2005, a place in the World Cup was directly determined by a penalty shoot-out for the first time. The 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifying playoff between Australia and Uruguay ended 1–1 on aggregate, with Uruguay winning the first leg 1–0 at home and Australia winning the second leg at home by the same score. A scoreless 30 minutes of extra time was followed by a shoot-out, which Australia won 4–2.
During the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Switzerland set an unwanted new record in the round of 16 shoot-out against Ukraine by failing to convert any of their penalties, losing 3–0. The goalkeeper Oleksandr Shovkovsky (Ukraine) became the first not to concede a single goal in the penalty shoot-out, saving two of the Swiss attempts, with another shot hitting the crossbar. The result meant that Switzerland became the first nation to be eliminated from the World Cup without conceding any goals (and, moreover, the only nation to participate in a World Cup finals tournament without conceding a goal).
The same competition featured a shoot-out between Germany and Argentina, the two most successful teams up to that point in terms of World Cup finals penalty shoot-outs: each team had competed in 3 shoot-outs and won all of them. Germany won this shoot-out, leaving Germany alone with a 4–0 record in World Cup finals.
On 20 June 2007, a new UEFA record was established. The semi-final of the European under-21 Championships in Heerenveen between the Netherlands and England team finished in 1–1. Thirty-two penalties had to be taken before the tie was broken. The Netherlands eventually won 13–12.
In the FA Cup, penalty kicks were used in the 1972 edition of the short-lived third-place playoff. They were introduced more generally in the 1991–92 season to decide matches still level after one replay and extra time. Previously there was no limit on the number of replays, which led to fixture disruption, especially disliked by the top clubs. Replays were often two or three days after the drawn match, which conflicted with the increased planning required after the Football Spectators Act 1989. The first team eliminated from the FA Cup on penalties was Scunthorpe United, beaten on 26 October 1991 by Rotherham United after a first-round replay. A shoot-out was first used in the FA Cup Final in 2005, when Arsenal beat Manchester United 5–4. The following year, Liverpool beat West Ham United in the FA Cup Final's second ever penalty shoot-out.
On 31 August 2005, a new English record was established when a shoot-out between Tunbridge Wells and Littlehampton Town in an FA Cup replay involved 40 kicks being taken, with Tunbridge Wells winning 16-15.
Shoot-outs have been used to settle four Football League Cup finals to date. The first was in 2001 when Liverpool beat Birmingham City 5–4 on penalties after a 1–1 draw after extra time in the match. More recently the 2009 final between Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur ended goalless and was won 4–1 on penalties by Manchester United. Then the 2012 final between Liverpool and Cardiff City finished 2–2 after extra time, Liverpool winning 3–2 on penalties. The 2016 final was won by Manchester City beating Liverpool 3–1 on penalties, after a 1–1 draw.
Penalty shoot-outs have been used for many years to settle drawn games in the earlier rounds of the Football League Cup, the earliest example being August 1976 when Doncaster Rovers beat Lincoln City 3–2 on penalties after three drawn games in a row (1–1, 1–1, 2–2) in a first round match. Shoot-outs tend to be quite rare in the semi-finals due to the away goal rule applying after extra time. However a shoot-out was used in the 2013-14 semi-final between Sunderland and Manchester United after both teams finished level over two legs; Sunderland won the shoot-out 2-1.
The Community Shield is also settled using penalties, following the normal 90 minutes of play, but no extra time. Manchester United have won the shield three times via a shoot-out, beating Arsenal in 2003, Chelsea in 2007, and Portsmouth in 2008. Manchester United lost the 2009 match on penalties to Chelsea.
In 2008, the Turkish Cup featured two clubs outside of Istanbul's Top Three for the first time in two decades, but penalty kicks decided the winner between Gençlerbirliği and Kayserispor, the latter having reached the final for the first time ever. After a scoreless 120 minutes, 28 penalty kicks were needed to decide the outcome, and Kayserispor, that to the goal scoring and goal saving herocis of Dimitar Ivankov, won its first Turkish Cup 11–10.
UEFA club competitions
The first penalty shoot-out in a European Cup final occurred in the 1984 European Cup Final as Liverpool defeated A.S. Roma. The match is best known for the antics of Liverpool keeper Bruce Grobbelaar. As Roma's Bruno Conti prepared to take his kick, Grobbelaar walked towards the goal smiling confidently at the cameras lined-up behind, then proceeded to bite the back of the net, in imitation of eating spaghetti. Conti sent his spot kick over the bar. Grobbelaar then produced a similar performance before Francesco Graziani took his kick, famously wobbling his legs in mock terror. Graziani duly missed and Liverpool went on to win the shootout 4–2.
In the 1986 European Cup Final between FC Steaua Bucharest and FC Barcelona, Steaua keeper Helmuth Duckadam saved all four of Barca's penalties, for which he was dubbed "the hero of Seville. Steaua also missed two, but still prevailed 2–0 in the shoot-out to become the only Romanian club side to win the title.
In the 2003 UEFA Champions League Final the penalty-shoot out has caused controversy among many fans as replays showed that Dida was off his goal line when saving penalties from Trezeguet, Zalayeta and Montero. Buffon was also off his goal line when saving penalties from Seedorf and Kaladze.
In the 2005 UEFA Champions League Final between A.C. Milan and Liverpool F.C., Liverpool keeper Jerzy Dudek used tactics similar to Bruce Grobbelaar in 1984 (known as the "Dudek dance" in 2005) to distract the Milan shootout takers which resulted in victory for his team.
The 2008 UEFA Champions League Final between Manchester United and Chelsea went to penalties, when John Terry missed a penalty which would have won Chelsea the match (and the Champions League). His standing leg slipped as he took his kick, and the ball hit the post. Chelsea lost the shoot-out 6–5, to which Terry reacted by breaking down in tears. Terry was not originally the penalty taker, however striker Didier Drogba had been sent off shortly before extra time ended.
In the semi-finals of the UEFA Champions League between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich, Iker Casillas and Manuel Neuer each saved two spot kicks. Neuer kept out penalties from Cristiano Ronaldo (£80 million) and Kaká (£65 million), then the most expensive footballers in history from their transfer fees.
On 19 May 2012 Chelsea defeated Bayern Munich 4–3 on penalties in the 2012 UEFA Champions League Final. Chelsea had never previously won a shoot-out in the competition, and had lost the 2008 final and 2007 semi-final on penalties. Bayern had never lost a shoot-out in Europe; their wins included the 2001 final against Valencia and the 2012 semi-final against Real Madrid. Didier Drogba dispatched the winning penalty, having been unable to take the fifth kick (missed by Terry) in the 2008 final due to a red card in extra time. The following day, many British newspapers made reference to the fact that an English team had finally beaten a German team on penalties.
On 17 July 2011, during the 2011 Copa América tournament in Argentina, Brazil missed 4 penalties in a row in the quarter-final, which allowed Paraguay to reach the semi-finals 2–0.
The current World Record for the most penalties scored consecutively in a shoot out stands at 29, in a Hampshire Senior Cup second round game between Brockenhurst and Andover Town on 9 October 2013, in which the 30th penalty was saved allowing Brockenhurst to win 15-14. This beat the previous record of 27, in a Johnstones Paint Trophy first round match between Leyton Orient F.C. and Dagenham & Redbridge F.C. on 7 September 2011, in which the 28th penalty was saved allowing Dagenham to win the shootout.
During the final of the 1992 African Cup of Nations played in Senegal, Ivory Coast won the penalty shootout 11:10. After the second set of five penalty kicks still being tied at 10:10, it went to sudden death, where the last penalty was missed by Anthony Baffoe, the stand in Ghanaian captain. This is the most penalties in the final match of a major international tournament, and the last time a second set of 5 kicks was implemented in the rules. The penalty shootout was significant in that it was the first in the final of a major international tournament that every player on the pitch took a penalty.
Fourteen years later, the Ivory Coast and Cameroon needed 24 penalties to decide who would advance to the semi-finals of the 2006 African Cup of Nations. The Ivory Coast advanced by winning 12–11 after Samuel Eto'o missed his second attempt, as his was the only miss of the penalty shootout.
The current world record for the longest penalty shoot-out in a first class match is 48 penalties during the 2005 Namibian Cup when KK Palace beat Civics 17–16. However, the record for the highest score in a penalty shoot out was set in the 1988 Argentine Championship, when Argeninos Juniors beat Racing Club 20–19 after 44 penalties.
On 3 June 2015 Sundsøre IF beat Nykøbing Mors 20–19 in a penalty shoot out in a preliminary round of the Danish FA Cup.
On the 11 December 2012, Bradford City set the record for most consecutive penalty shootout wins. They have won 9 penalty shootouts since 2009 and that has included wins against Arsenal and local rivals Huddersfield Town.
Win or draw?
A shoot-out is usually considered for statistical purposes to be separate from the match which preceded it. In the case of a two-legged fixture, the two matches are still considered either as two draws or as one win and one loss; in the case of a single match, it is still considered as a draw. This contrasts with a fixture won in extra time, where the score at the end of normal time is superseded. In college soccer in the United States, the NCAA treated a shoot-out win as a match win for the 2002 season, but otherwise its statistics treat the match as drawn. However, in the championship game of the NCAA tournament, a shoot-out win is a match win.
In the calculation of UEFA coefficients, shoot-outs are ignored for club coefficients, but not national team coefficients, where the shoot-out winner gets 20,000 points: more than the shoot-out loser, who gets 10,000 (the same as for a draw) but less than the 30,000 points for winning a match outright. In the FIFA World Rankings, the base value of a win is three points; a win on penalties is two; a draw and a loss on penalties are one; a loss is zero. The more complicated ranking system FIFA used from 1999 to 2006 gave a shoot-out winner the same points as for a normal win and a shoot-out loser the same points as for a draw; goals in the match proper, but not the shoot-out, were factored into the calculation.
As a way to decide a football match, shoot-outs have been seen variously as a thrilling climax or as an unsatisfactory cop-out.
Paul Doyle describes shoot-outs as "exciting and suspense-filled" and the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final shoot-out as "the perfect way to end a wonderful ... final". Richard Williams compares the spectacle to "a public flogging in the market square".
The result is often seen as a lottery rather than a test of skill; managers Luiz Felipe Scolari and Roberto Donadoni described them as such after their teams had respectively won and lost shoot-outs. Others disagree. Mitch Phillips called it "the ultimate test of nerve and technique." Paul Doyle emphasised the psychological element.
Only a small subset of a footballer's skills is tested by a shoot-out. Ian Thomsen likened deciding the 1994 World Cup using a penalty shoot-out to deciding the Masters golf tournament via a minigolf game. The shoot-out is a test of individuals which may be considered inappropriate in a team sport; Sepp Blatter has said "Football is a team sport and penalties is not a team, it is the individual".
Ignacio Palacios-Huerta has suggested that the alternating kick sequence gives an unfair advantage to the team kicking first. As a remedy, he proposed using the Thue-Morse sequence to determine the kicking order.
Inferior teams are tempted to play for a scoreless draw, calculating that a shoot-out offers their best hope of victory. The 1990 FIFA World Cup was notable for many teams playing defensive football and using time wasting tactics, including Argentina, who scored only 5 goals but reached the final by winning two shootouts. Red Star Belgrade's performance beating Olympique Marseille in the 1991 European Cup Final is often condemned for having "played for penalties" from the kick-off; a tactic coach Ljupko Petrović freely admitted to. On the other hand, the increased opportunity for giant-killing may also be seen as an advantage, increasing the romance of a competition like the FA Cup. Some teams have regarded, or been accused of regarding, a loss on penalties as an honourable result or "no defeat at all."
Various tie-break methods have been proposed, both before and since shoot-outs were introduced.
Historically, one of the first tie-breaking procedures was contained in the Sheffield Rules between 1862 and 1871, with the concept of the rouge, scorable when the ball went narrowly wide of the goal. Rule 14 stated "A goal outweighs any number of rouges. Should no goals or an equal number be obtained, the match is decided by rouges". Similarly, the try in rugby football was used from 1875 as a tie-breaker if teams were level on goals.
A drawn result may be allowed to stand, unless the fixture determines which team qualifies for a later round. Before 1993 (except in 1974) the FA Charity Shield was shared if the match was drawn. When the third place playoff of the 1972 Olympic tournament between the USSR and East Germany ended 2–2 after extra time, the bronze medal was shared by the two teams.
During the qualification process for the 1962 World Cup, Morocco and Tunisia formed a two-team group. They both won 2–1 at home, so they played a third match at a neutral location. When this ended in a 1–1 draw after extra time, Morocco advanced on a coin toss to the next round of qualification. This scenario was repeated in during the qualification process for the 1970 World Cup, when the same two teams were tied after three matches and extra time. Again, Morocco advanced on a coin toss. Tunisia did have better luck with the coin toss in the intervening years; during the 1965 African Cup of Nations, they reached the final at the expense of Senegal by winning a coin toss after three group matches had left Tunisia and Senegal tied with a win (over Ethiopia) and a draw (against each other).
Current alternatives include replaying a match that has ended in a draw. This still occurs in the quarter-finals and earlier rounds of the English FA Cup. Until 1991, any number of replays were permitted, with a record of five. (Since then, a draw in the (first) replay has been resolved by a penalty-shoot-out.) Only once, in 1974, did the European Cup final go to a replay.
Other suggestions have included using elements of match play such as most shots on goal, most corner kicks awarded, fewest cautions and sendings-off, or having ongoing extra time with teams compelled to remove players at progressive intervals (similar to regular season play in the National Hockey League, where players play 3-on-3 in the extra time). These proposals have not yet been authorised by the International Football Association Board. However, after the 2006 World Cup, Sepp Blatter stated that he wants no more penalty shoot-outs in the Final of the World Cup, tentatively suggesting either a replay or "Maybe to take players away and play golden goal".
Henry Birtles' "Advantage" proposal is for the shoot-out to be held before extra-time, and only acting as a tiebreak if the game remains a draw after the full 120 minutes. Proponents of this idea state that it would lead to a more offensive extra-time as one of the teams would know they have to score and there would never be a match in which both teams are simply waiting for penalties. Another advantage is that players who have missed would have a chance to redeem themselves in extra-time. The obvious flaw is that the team that wins the penalty shoot-out would be inclined to play defensively in extra time in the knowledge that a draw would put them through. However, this flaw is not so clear because a single goal makes the difference between winning and losing, as opposed to a team which defends a single goal lead more comfortably because a conceded goal is the difference between winning and drawing.
Another alternative is Attacker Defender Goalkeeper (ADG), which features a series of ten contests, in which an attacker has thirty seconds to score a goal against a defender and goalkeeper. At the completion of the ten contests, the team with the most goals is the winner.
North American experiments
The North American Soccer League (NASL) in the 1970s and 1980s, then Major League Soccer (MLS) for its first four seasons (1996-1999) experimented with a variation of the shoot-out procedure.
Instead of a straight penalty kick, the shoot-out started 35 yards (32 m) from the goal and having five seconds to attempt a shot. The player could make as many moves as he could in a breakaway situation in the five seconds, then attempt a shot. This procedure is similar to that used in an ice hockey penalty shot. As with a standard shoot-out, this variation used a best-of-five-kicks model, and if the score was still level, the tiebreaker would head to an extra round of one attempt per team.
This format rewarded player skills, as players were able to attempt to deceive goalkeepers and play the ball in an attempt to make the shot, as in a one-on-one skills contest, and goalkeepers could take on the attackers without restrictions that are normally implemented in penalty shootouts. Soccer Bowl '81, the NASL's 1981 championship final, was decided by this format.
From its inception in 1968, the NASL used an unconventional point system in determining the league standings. Teams were awarded six points for a win and three points for a draw. In addition, teams earned one bonus point for each goal scored in a game up to a maximum of three per game. Thus, a team that lost 5-3 would earn three points. However, a team that lost 1-0 would earn no points. Also, a team that won 5-4 would earn nine points (the same as a 3-0 win). But a team that won 2-0 would earn only eight points. In the league's second season (1969), the Kansas City Spurs were the league champions with 10 wins, 2 losses and 4 ties even though the Atlanta Chiefs had 11 wins, 2 losses and 3 ties, because Kansas City earned more bonus points. Starting with 1971 postseason playoff matches, the NASL used a golden goal rule, and every match had a winner decided from the run of play. Extra-time sessions were 15 minutes long before a brief break and change of ends. Game 1 of the 1971 NASL semifinal series between the Rochester Lancers and the Dallas Tornado went six extra-time periods with Rochester scoring the game-winning goal in the 176th minute. Game 3 of that same series went four extra time periods with Dallas scoring in the 148th minute to win the match and the series. In 1975, the NASL adopted a conventional penalty-kick shootout system for all regular-season and postseason playoff matches, and there were no longer any NASL matches that ended in ties. In the standings, a team that won in regulation time was awarded six points. A team that won in a penalty-kick shootout was awarded one point. Bonus points continued to be awarded for each goal scored up to a maximum of three per game. In 1977, the NASL adopted the experimental North American shootout procedure described above. If a match was tied after 90 minutes, a maximum of two golden goal extra time periods of 7.5 minutes each were played. If neither team scored, the shootout was held to determine the winner of the match. In the standings, a team that won was awarded six points whether the win came in regulation time, extra time or by shootout. Bonus points continued to be awarded for each goal scored up to a maximum of three per game. No bonus points were awarded for goals scored in extra time. Postseason playoff games were decided in the same manner. In 1981, the number of points awarded to a team that won a game in a shootout was reduced from six to four. This remained the system until the NASL's final season in 1984.
From its inception in 1996, MLS used the shootout system that had been used by the NASL to determine winners of matches. No regular-season or postseason playoff games ended in a tie. In general, no extra time was played; the shootout commenced immediately after 90 minutes had been played. The only exception was in the MLS Cup Final in which a match tied after 90 minutes would be followed by a maximum of two 15-minute extra time sessions on a golden goal basis. In the regular-season standings, a team that won a match in regulation was awarded three points. A team that won a match in a shootout was awarded one point. There were no bonus points or points awarded to teams that lost whether in regulation time or a shootout. In the playoffs, the conference semifinals and conference finals were organized as best-of-three matches series. A shootout win counted as a win. Thus, a team could win two of the three matches by shootout and lose the other match in regulation and still advance to the next round. This was inconsistent with how the teams were rewarded during the regular season when the team with one win would have earned three points, and the team with two wins would have earned only two points. In 1999, a maximum of two 15-minute golden goal extra time periods were added for matches that were tied after 90 minutes of regulation play. If neither team scored during extra time, the match was decided by a shootout. MLS abandoned the North American style shootout starting with the 2000 season. If penalties are required to determine a winner during the playoffs, MLS now uses the shoot-out procedure specified by the International Football Association Board.