Whoever Wins a Penalty Should Take It

07/22/2022

Every year it feels like FIFA rolls out some new rule change that is well-intentioned but ultimately a terrible idea. For example, they set the internet ablaze last summer when they suggested shortening a match to 60 minutes with a clock that stops when play halts and kick-ins instead of throw-ins. Basically, their brilliant idea to revolutionize the game was to turn it into futsal, a much less popular version of the sport that already exists. I feel for FIFA though it's clear they feel insecure and must alter something, and luckily I have the answer.

That answer is that the winner of a penalty should be the one to take the penalty.

It is important to note that I am not the originator nor the only person to have thought of a great idea.

As things currently stand, anyone can take a penalty regardless of who won it. That rule is okay, there is nothing wrong with it, but if the goal is to make the game a little more entertaining, then the answer is not to clear new rules out of thin air. The answer is to enact a minor tweak that increases the chaos and entertainment of the sport. Imagine the added chaos if a center-back who hasn't taken a penalty kick or scored a goal in five years somehow wins a pk with 5 minutes to go down by 1 in a knockout game? Penalty kicks already generate a lot of excitement and nervousness, a rule change like this would only increase that valuable commodity.

But I'll be honest since you're friendly enough to have read this far into the article. The real reason FIFA should enact this new penalty rule is what it'll do in ending unnecessary sports debates on whether a player is a penalty merchant or a truly quality goal scorer.

Thanks to social media, the last decade has seen sports talk devolve into meme debates about who the best players are and, when it comes to goal scorers, the idea that some are nothing more than good penalty takers. It could be a tweet about a U19 player in Germany signing a new contract, and if it picks up enough traffic, then you're guaranteed to see a response with something like, "Penaldo is overrated" or "Pessi would be nowhere without penalties."

Heck, I'm guilty of it too. Before the Champions League final, when I was making my campaign for Mane to win the Ballon d'Or over Benzema, in response to friends telling me Benzema had a lot more goals than Mane, I countered with the fact that Benzema had about nine penalty goals to his name as Madrid's primary penalty taker while Mane did not have the same luxury of taking Liverpool's penalties despite winning the majority of them. So, it was not fair to limit that discussion to goals scored.

Imagine a world where the person who won the penalty has to step up and take it? 

Debates would practically end on who elite goal scorers are. Calling someone a penalty merchant will hold far less weight if he won those for himself. In addition, it'll add far more context and stability to the future of elite goal-scoring statistics. We'll be able to look at a player's goal total and comprehend they were responsible for every goal scored.

Long gone would be the days where a midfielder like Frank Lampard adds 60 career goals to his total off the back of strikers and creative midfielders like Didier Drogba and Eden Hazard doing the hard work of winning a penalty and then handing it over. We'd be able to look at a season like Luis Suarez's 2013-14 differently, where he scored 31 premier league goals without taking a single one of the five penalties he won.

The change would be easy to implement too. No need to try it in another league or experiment; roll it out and enjoy the chaos.


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