The Plot Thickens
Here is my reply to F.I.F.A.'s reply to my letter, which quotes almost the entire letter from F.I.F.A.
PO Box 85
24th July 2000
Dear Andrin Cooper,
Thank you very much for your reply dated 21st July, to my letter suggesting an alternative system to penalty shoot-outs for settling draws in football competitions.
You say that my proposed alternative is not a viable system, and go on to give your reasons. Your reasons, however, I believe to be flawed. If anything, they refer more to the current system than to my proposal.
You write "... it does not offer a concrete conclusion to a match - it is always possible that neither team manages to score. In this case, players would be exhausted and less likely to score rather than more likely." Actually, the current penalty shoot-out system does not offer a guaranteed result either. It is possible that both sides score the same number of penalties, in which case penalties continue until one side scores more than the other. It is possible for penalty shoot-outs to go on forever, but in reality they never do. Similarly, in my system, play could go on forever, but this is similarly so unlikely that in practice it never would. Also, in the present system, before penalties even start, half an hour of extra play, involving all eleven players on both teams, has been played. After half an hour of extra play using my system (ten minutes of play between each sending off) the sides would be down to the five fittest on each side (and substitutes would still be allowed, so the likelihood is that a high proportion of both sides would be fresh men). One could tweak things further and make each section of play eight minutes long, in which case the sides would be down to three a side. Tiredness, though less of a factor than in the current system, would favour goal-scoring, not defence. A tired man does not chase back to defend so well, and an attacker who gets away from his marker with the ball is far less likely to be stopped. In games of five-a-side football, which I play quite often, it is very noticeable that the first goal is a long time in coming, when everyone is fresh, but as people tire, the goals start coming more and more often. Five-a-side football is a much higher-scoring game than eleven-a-side, and would be even more high-scoring if the pitch and goals were full size.
You go on to write, "Secondly, football is a game devised for 11 players per team. The whole structure of the game would be distorted under your system, and I am not convinced that it would provide for a satisfactory spectacle." This is a very strange objection to my system, since the penalty shoot-out distorts the game out of all recognition. Whereas I am proposing that a game be concluded from open play, with team members constructing attacks with passes and crosses, you are preferring instead to change the game to one in which a single man kicks a stationary ball. Five-a-side football is still recognisably football, and incorporates team play and many skills. Taking a penalty is an individual activity, and is more than anything a test of nerve. The first part of this objection therefore I consider to be invalid. As for the second, regarding 'spectacle', well, my proposal is for open play, which is what makes the 'beautiful game' so beautiful, whereas you seem to prefer the crowd to watch just a few single kicks. In my system, as the play goes on, goals become more and more likely, and the tension in the crowd would steadily increase. A single golden goal will settle the match, whereas in a penalty shoot-out it is still possible to win after someone on one's team has missed his kick. One penalty shoot-out is much like another. What people remember of these shoot-outs is the last decisive missed kick. Matches settled using my system would be far more individual, and people would remember the vital heroic goal, not the embarrassment of the poor fellow who missed. The very rare match that went down to three-a-side (perhaps this would never happen in a hundred years) would be a tale that every man who witnessed it would tell his grandsons.
Your final comment is "The penalty shoot-out is not perfect, but it does offer a definite conclusion to a match, and does incorporate the ultimate aim of football, i.e. to score more goals than the opposition." My system also involves one side's scoring more goals, and it offers a more definite conclusion to a game, since a team of the best men of each side, working together in open play, will show that it can score a goal, rather than be knocked out by the unfortunate blunder of one team member.
Given that you have not come up with a reason which shows penalty shoot-outs to be better than my proposed system, could you please make sure that this system is discussed the next time the rules committee meets for discussion?
Again, thank you very much for your reply.
There has been no reply to my letter. If you agree with my proposal, why not write to F.I.F.A. and tell the people there this?