Friday, June 29, 2012

Moment of Truth

Soccer fans this weekend will likely hope that the juicy Italy v. Spain final in Euro 2012 will NOT have to come down to the very gimmicky and often random penalty kick solution.

Most fans hate it.

I - as a very casual fan of the game (the World Cup every four years is plenty of the game, for my sake) - am okay with penalty kicks.

The game has to end somehow, someday.

And penalty kicks are intense and thrilling.

Soccer has many other half-remedies to help games end in a "proper" score on the pitch, if they wanted to do so. But soccer has an amazing ability to defend the utterly stupid and corrupt.


Instant replay for bang-bang goal-line calls? Nah! Why bother! We get it right... errr... MOST of the time.


How about a stadium clock that actually STARTS and STOPS with a referee signal?

Too much to ask for?

Oh, you LIKE the suspense of wondering how much "injury time" has accumulated during the match?

But I digress.

On overtime rules, here's what would make sense to me - NON-soccer fan, mind you.

1. Everything in extra time is a "golden goal." As in, sudden death, dummies. You score, you win. Go home.
2. How about allowing free subs in overtime, to allow fresh strikers to mount scoring chances?
3. How about loosening off-sides rules in overtime?
4. How about going 10 on 10, or 9 on 9 to create more lanes?
5. How about alternating "man-advantages" (i.e. 10 on 9) for 10 minute stretches, allowing the team which forced more corner kicks during regulation to get the first chance?
6. Hell, how about a series of 4 corner kicks for each team, instead of 5 vs. 5 penalty kicks?

Well, anyway. They like the system they got, otherwise they would change it.


Of course, some soccer fans actually LIKE the penalty kick device. In this article in the Wall Street Journal entitled "An Apologia for the Penalty Kick Shootout", the authors point to the fact that the more pressure tested side deserves to win a match that ends in such a pressure cooker.

Plain and simple.

I see some logic to that.

The story also has some interesting "data" from a researcher regarding high level World Cup and Euro Cup penalty kick results dating all the way back to 1976.

According to the numbers, the success rate for all PK's in these high pressure events is 75%.

However, it's 90% when a player is kicking FOR THE WIN, yet it drops to a choking dog 60% when the player is kicking TO AVOID THE LOSS.

Interesting stuff, and it might even be a big enough sample to matter.


  1. I am not a soccer fan either. To me, Ronaldinho is video game character used in soccer games.

    Of Czabe's six suggestions, I like the sudden death and more subs in overtime suggestions. I am ambivalent on 10 on 10, 9 on 9 etc. I see the need and the benefits, but it impacts the game a bit too much too my liking. I don't like the loosening of the offsides rule. I absolutely despise the four corner kicks and rotating man advantages suggestions, particularly when you combine the rotating man advantages with the sudden death. That puts the team with the first man advantage at an unfair advantage, much like the overtime rule in football.

  2. who cares its soccer. let them do what they want i still won't watch a second of it.

  3. Its soccer....It SUCKS, the four letter network keeps trying to shove it up our collective asses. I will not watch a damn thing about it.

    I'm actually surprised they don't score the game like a figure skating competition.

  4. Czabe,

    While we agree with the goal-line tech, the main reason FIFA won't concede is that football (soccer, but I'll use correct terminology for this posting) is played in literally every corner on earth. They want the poorest town in Africa to play the same game as Manchester United or Boca Juniors. It's a world game and they would like to keep it like that. Now, Blatter (FIFA prez) has mentioned he wants it for the World Cup 2014 when it's a known quantity. That time and place for football to use technology. FIFA has 100% control over that one tournament, therefore can ensure everyone has the same tech.

    I agree, as an avid, massive, huge football fan that penalties suck. No football fan likes them anywhere. You like them 'cause American sports don't really have it. It's the entire game packed neatly into 10 or so quick hitting shots. That is fun.

    I believe Golden goal should be done infinantly. Sure, take a 5-min break every 15-mins and switch sides, but why not just go until someone scores? It's "extra time" because the two teams were so evenly matched, just go until the players decide on actual skill, not a goal tender diving the wrong way in a pure guess. That is all keepers do, guess.

    If you had the time, you'd love football, I know it. I understand you're neck deep in the NFL and local sports, so I never complain you don't get into football enough. Still love the show! GO MAN U! GO ROONEY!

  5. I agree with Czabe that soccer is the "dreadful game." Still, if you tied me up and forced me to watch (like Clockwork Orange), I would support adding a sudden-death playoff where they keep playing until someone scores. If the game lasts for three days, so be it. Maybe remove one player from each side every 15 minutes.

  6. Plain and simple, there is nothing in American sports that compares to the fans of football. Nothing even close. Yelling "Defense clap clap, Defense clap clap" is pathetic and kindergarten quality at best. Americans hate when they can't be #1 and essentially you can't be #1 in a world game like soccer when all your talent is being swallowed up by internal sports. If you think soccer is boring, try watching a baseball game from first hitter to last out. I'd rather fill sandbags in Iraq. And the way things are going for the NFL, you can put a red jersey on the QB and put flags on the rest of the team.

    The beautiful games is called that for a reason by billions of people.

    1. I've been in stadiums in England, France, Holland, Italy, Portugal & Argentina and after experiencing the incredible fan atmosphere which is purely organic - no piped in noise, cheesy sound effects or orders from the video screen - the trained seal cheering of the typical American pro sports crowd is pretty pathetic. College is a different story and those events are ton of fun.