Penalty Shootout Alternative

Use previous results to determine a winner

The penalty shootout is one of the more debated parts of a football match. Its existence is often mentioned in terms of excitement. It can be exciting for several reasons. Arguably the foremost reason is that it provides a relatively quick result. The darker side of the shootout, however is its undoing. The winner of the penalty shootout can very easily not be the team that played better during regular and extra 90+30 minutes of actual football.


So what can be done about the penalty shootout? What alternative is there to the shootout? The more historical approach of playing a replay after a tie is not really practical, one should be mildly surprised it was ever possible but certainly with today’s schedules it is not. There are less usual ideas that pop up once in a while. For example one is that a tie be decided by the number of corners taken during a match with the team having taken the most corners being declared the winner. Another suggestion was to do the shootout before a match so that the teams know their possible fate before hand. Of course there have been other ideas too and also rules to make it less likely to get to a shootout by making an extra time goal a golden one so less games, may in theory, even reach the penalty phase.

Another idea that came to me – and I don’t recall seeing elsewhere – is that a winner be declared by taking the teams’ previous three games into account. Let’s say a second round World Cup game reaches the penalty shootout stage, how about letting the team with the better group record (in this case the 3 group games) win? Of course this would seem unfair to a team that has finished second in the group stage –  and is playing a first placed team – but why not? A World Cup semifinal match would take into account the quarter final, second round and last group matches to decide, not really unfair. A champions league quarter final second leg would look at the results of the quarter final first leg and the two round of 16 matches, again not really unfair. Of course applying the usual tie breaker rules if the two teams have equal number of wins/points in their last 3 games.

The potential benefit would be to provide an extra incentive for playing for the win in more matches and also of course to avoid the dreaded penalty shootout in the process.

Let football matches be decided in game situations and not walking up to shoot the ball.