Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Football 'Lotteries'

Yesterday, among the six libraries I visited, I checked out this Celtic story in the Bod. I had to order this book specially, but in fact it was the 1969-70 European Cup second round. Celtic vs Benfica were tied 3-3 AET after the second leg in Portugal (26th Nov 1969). Details of the subsequent coin-toss are on page 96.

Anyway, today I've been looking for examples of penalty shoot outs condemned as 'lotteries'. I know it happens, it's widely on the internet, but I wish I'd kept some newspaper cuttings... So far, I have:

This BBC debate (which amazingly asks 'Is it fair, or is it just a lottery?') and their guide to surviving shoot-outs, which at least puts inverted commas around the "lottery".

After some recent proposals to replace draws with shoot-outs, this article in The Observer asks "If solid, organised defending has kept a talented attacking side at bay for 90 minutes, why insult that achievement with the lottery of a shoot-out?", while this comment on The Guardian blog claims "The suggestion that draws should be concluded by penalties is unjust as it makes football too much of a lottery".

This article on the FA website even seems to put Liverpool's amazing fifth Champions League win down to the 'penalty lottery', rather than an amazing three goal fight-back and top class save.

Interestingly, those in the know already deny the common claim - this site points out penalties replaced literal lotteries while this one suggests skill actually plays a part.

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