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Penalty shootouts, properly named kicks from the penalty mark, are a method sometimes used to decide which team progresses to the next stage of a tournament (or wins the tournament) following a draw in a game of association football. Kicks during a shootout are governed by different rules from a penalty kick, which are part of normal play during a match.


Penalty shootouts do not follow the penalty kick law. However, they follow similar procedure to penalty kicks and are popularly referred to as "penalties". During a shootout, players other than the kicker and the defending goalkeeper must remain in the centre circle (other than the kicking team's goalkeeper, who stands on the junction of goal line and penalty area near to the assistant referee).

Goals scored during the shootout are not included in the final score, nor are they added to the goalscoring records of the players involved. Strictly speaking, kicks from the penalty mark do not result in a match winner. The match remains a draw and the result of the kicks is merely used to select a winner to progress to the next stage of the tournament (or win it in the case of the final). However, in popular usage a team is often said to have "won on penalties", and such matches have their result recorded as (for example): "Team A 2–2 Team B pens., Team B won 5–4 on penalties". In some competitions, the final score is recorded as a one goal victory in favour of the team winning the shootout, although there is no official "match-winning goal." For example if a team wins a shootout after a scoreless game the final score would be reported as 1-0, regardless of how many shootout goals there were. However, this is typically done only at the high school level now.

Generally, shootouts are used only in knockout "cup" ties, as opposed to round-robin "leagues". The shootout thus decides who will progress to the next stage of a tournament, or who will win it. Usually extra time has been played first; an exception being the Copa Libertadores which has a shootout directly after a two-leg draw except the Final.

Exceptionally, a shootout after a league match may be provided for, in the rules for the group phase of multi-round tournaments: if the opposing teams in a final-day match finish the group with identical records, they can immediately play a shootout. This happened in Group A of the 2003 UEFA Women's Under-19 Championship. The prospect was discussed of this rule applying after the TurkeyCzech Republic match in Group A of Euro 2008, if it ended in a draw; in the event, Turkey won so no shootout was required. 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.

In the late 1980s, a number of European football leagues, including Hungary, Yugoslavia, and Norway, experimented with penalty shootouts immediately after drawn league matches, with the winner gaining one point more than the loser. This was soon abandoned. In the United Statesmarker, Major League Soccer initially also had a shootout immediately following the end of full-time, even during league matches. Similarly, Japanmarker's J. League used shootouts after drawn games to determine a winner when that league began. These have also since been abandoned.


The following is a summary of the procedure for kicks from the penalty mark. The procedure is specified in FIFA's booklet Laws of the Game, not as one of the 17 numbered laws, but within the supplementary sections Procedures to Determine the Winner of a Match or home-and-away (pp. 54-56) and Additional instructions and guidelines for referees (p. 130).
  • The team to take the first kick is decided by a coin toss and the referee chooses the goal at which the kicks are taken. All kicks are taken at one goal to ensure that both teams' kick-takers and goalkeepers face the same pitch irregularities (if any)
  • All players other than the kicker and the goalkeepers must remain in the pitch's centre circle (see above).
  • Each kick is taken in the general manner of a penalty kick. Each kick is taken from the penalty mark, 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.
In reality, goalkeepers seldom remain on the goal-line and move forward with the aim of reducing the angle of the penalty shot, therefore increasing their chance of saving the penalty, albeit unfairly. If the shot is saved, the referee can call for a retake of the penalty, but again, this seldom ever happens.
  • Each kicker can kick the ball only once per attempt. If the ball is saved by the goalkeeper the kicker cannot score from the rebound (unlike a normal penalty kick). Similarly, if the ball bounces off the goal posts, the kicker cannot score from the rebound.
  • Teams take turns to kick from the penalty mark in attempt to score a goal, until each has taken five kicks. However, if one side has scored more goals than the other could possibly reach with all of their remaining kicks, the shootout ends regardless of the number of kicks remaining.
  • If at the end of these five rounds of kicks the teams have scored an equal number of goals, sudden death rounds of one kick each are used until one side scores and the other does not.
  • Only players who were on the pitch at the end of play are allowed to take kicks. A substitution can only be made in the case of injury to a goalkeeper during the kicks, provided the team has not already used the maximum number of substitutes allowed by the competition.
  • No player is allowed to take a second kick from the penalty mark until all other eligible players on his team have taken a first kick, except the goalkeeper. However, if the goalkeeper decides to take a kick anyway, another player may be skipped.
  • If at the beginning of kicks from the penalty mark one side has more players on the pitch than the other, then the side with more players must select an appropriate number of players who will not take part. 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 deselected cannot play any part in the procedure: so a goalkeeper cannot be deselected from kicking while retained for saving. This applies whether players are absent through injury or being sent off. The rule was introduced by the IFAB 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.



Shootouts were not endorsed by UEFA or FIFA until 1970. However, variants of the modern shootout 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 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 decided 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).

Israelimarker Yosef Dagan is claimed by some to have invented the shootout, after watching the Israeli team lose a 1968 Olympic quarter-final by drawing of lots. Michael Almog, later president of the Israel FA, described the 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.

The penalty shootout is also credited as the invention of former referee Karl Wald, from Frankfurt am Mainmarker. When proposed in 1970, the Bavarianmarker football association attempted to block the suggestion, and it was only when the majority of delegates said they were in favour that the officials gave their backing. Shortly afterwards, the German Football Association followed suit.


In England, the first ever penalty shootout in a professional match took place in 1970 at Boothferry Parkmarker, Hullmarker 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, the Hull City goalkeeper, was therefore the first goalkeeper to save a penalty in a penalty shootout and he was also the first goalkeeper to take the deciding kick, but missed, blasting the ball over the bar and putting Hull City out of the Watney Cup.

Penalty shootouts were used to decide matches in UEFA's European Cup and Cup Winners' Cup in the 1970–71 season. In the first round of the European Cup 1972–73, the referee prematurely ended a shootout 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 shootout.

The final of the 1973 Campeonato Paulista ended in similar circumstances. Santos were leading Portuguesa 2–0 with each team having taken three shootout kicks, when referee Armando Marques declared Santos the winners. Portuguesa manager Otto Glória quickly led his team out of the stadium; this was allegedly to ensure the shootout 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 shootout 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 shootout 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 shootout in the World Cup was on 9 January 1977, in the first round of African qualifying, when Tunisia beat Morocco. The first shootout in the finals tournament was in 1982, when West Germany beat France in the semifinal.

A decision in the 1986 World Cup led to the "Madrid rule" clarification of the penalty procedure. In the quarter-final shootout between Brazil and France, Bruno Bellone's kick rebounded out off the post and back into the goal off goalkeeper Carlos's back. 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 IFAB clarified Law 14, covering penalty kicks, to support Igna's decision.

Famous incidents

The finals of three major FIFAmarker competitions have gone to penalty shootouts. The first two of these took place in the same stadium, the Rose Bowlmarker in Pasadena, Californiamarker, USAmarker.

Goalkeepers have been known to win shootouts 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).

The English and Dutch national teams are known for their many losses on penalty shootouts. Between 1992 and 2000, the Dutch were eliminated from four major tournaments by losing a shootout (three European Championships in a row and the World Cup in 1998). In the semi-final of UEFA Euro 2000, they missed five out of six penalties (two in the match, four in the shootout). England notably lost to West Germany in the semifinals of the 1990 FIFA World Cup and UEFA Euro 96, Argentina in the 1998 FIFA World Cup and Portugal in Euro 2004 and the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

On 31 August 2005, a new English record was established when a shootout between Tunbridge Wellsmarker and Littlehampton Townmarker involved 40 kicks being taken.

In the FA Cup, penalty kicks were introduced in the 1991–92 season to decide matches still level after a replay and extra time, replacing a series of replays that in the past had led to fixture disruption, especially disliked by the top clubs. Two first round ties that season became the first FA Cup ties to be decided on penalties (Rotherham United beat Scunthorpe United and Colchester United beat Exeter City).

A penalty shootout 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 shootout.

The Community Shield was 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 shootout, beating Arsenal in 2003, Chelsea in 2007, and Portsmouth in 2008. On the second occasion, goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar saved three Chelsea penalties.

On 16 November 2005, a place in the World Cup was directly determined by a penalty shootout 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 shootout, which Australia won 4–2.

During the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany, Switzerland set a unwanted new record in the Round of 16 shoot-out against Ukraine by failing to convert any of their penalties, losing 3-0. Their elimination also meant that they 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).

On 20 June 2007, a new UEFA record was established. The semi-final of the European under-21 Championships in Heerenveenmarker between the Netherlands and England team finished in 1-1. 32 penalties had to be taken before the tie was decided. The Netherlands eventually won 13-12.

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 shootout 6-5, to which Terry reacted by breaking down in tears.

On 2 May 2009, a record was established during the final of the Greek Cup when Olympiacos beat AEK Athens and won the trophy. The final score was 19-18 (4-4 after normal 90 minutes plus extra time) and 34 penalties had to be taken.

The current world record for the longest penalty shootout in a first class match is 48 penalties during the 2005 Namibian Cup when KK Palace beat Civics 17–16.

Win or draw?

A shootout 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 the calculation of UEFA coefficients, shootouts are ignored for club coefficients, but not national team coefficients, where the shootout winner gets 20,000 points: more than the shootout 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 penaties are one; a loss is zero. The more complicated ranking system FIFA used from 1999 to 2006 gave a shootout winner the same points as for a normal win and a shootout loser the same points as for a draw; goals in the match proper, but not the shootout, were factored into the calculation.


As a way to decide a football match, shootouts have been seen variously as a thrilling climax or as an unsatisfactory cop-out.

Paul Doyle describes shootouts as "exciting and suspense-filled" and the 2008 UEFA Champions League Final shootout 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; manager Luiz Felipe Scolari and Roberto Donadoni described them as such after their teams had respectively won and lost shootouts. 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 shootout. Ian Thomsen likened deciding the 1994 World Cup by shootout to deciding the Masters golf tournamentmarker via a putt-putt game. The shootout 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".

Some teams have regarded, or been accused of regarding, a loss on penalties as an honourable result or "no defeat at all."Inferior teams are tempted to play for a scoreless draw, calculating that a shootout offers their best hope of victory. 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.


Various tie-break methods have been proposed, both before and since shootouts were introduced.

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.

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.

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-shootout.) Only once, in 1974, did the European Cup final go to a replay.

Golden goal (sudden death) and silver goal (where the extra time was split into two 15-minute periods; if one team led after the first 15-minute period, the game ended) methods to encourage a result without resort to penalties have been tried. However, the International Football Association Board (IFAB) discontinued their use in 2004. These were not seen as a success, as they led to defensive play rather than encouraging the teams to try to score goals. The reason being that the fear of having a goal scored against them seemed more important than trying to score a goal themselves.

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 ice hockey in North America, where players play 4-on-4 — or 3-on-3 — in the extra time). These proposals have not yet been authorised by the IFAB. However, after the 2006 World Cup, Sepp Blatter stated that he wants no more penalty shootouts 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 shootout 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 shootout would be inclined to play defensively in extra time in the knowledge that a draw would put them through. However, the advantage of the Advantage proposal is that for a team that would risk that the one goal is the difference between winning and losing. As opposed to a team which defends a single goal lead whereby a conceded goal is the difference between winning a drawing.

Attacker Defender Goalkeeper (ADG) is an alternative developed by Timothy Farrell in 2008. ADG 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.

American experiments

The North American Soccer League in the 1970s and then Major League Soccer in the 1990s experimented with a variation of the shootout procedure.

Instead of a straight penalty kick, the shootout started 35 yards 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 shootout, 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 fake out goalkeepers in an attempt to make the shot, as in a one-on-one skills contest.

MLS abandoned this experiment in 2000. If penalties are required to determine a winner during the playoffs, MLS now uses the shootout procedure specified by the IFAB.

See also


  • On Penalties by Andrew Anthony (ISBN 0-224-06116-X)


  1. Paragraph 7.08 (Section V) of Regulations of the UEFA European Football Championship, 2006/08
  2. [1]
  3. [2]
  4. [3]
  5. [4]
  6. [5]
  7. [6]
  9. Laws of the Game 2007/2008, p.130: "The kicks from the penalty mark are not part of the match"
  10. Olympic Football Tournament Munich 1972: Soviet Union - German Democratic Republic
  11. The Olympic Odyssey so far... (Part 2: 1968 - 2000) 10 June 2004

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