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Question Number: 31808

Law 10 - Determining the Outcome of a Match 9/22/2017

RE: Competitive Adult

Grant C of ., Ontario Canada asks...

Tinkering with the LOTG is not something I take kindly to! What then is this ABBA business for taking the kicks that UEFA has proposed? Unless we're discussing beautiful and talented Scandinavians, I thoroughly disapprove.

Even if it isn't one of the 17, Kicks from the Mark is still written in the Good Book, and was not one of the 2017 changes introduced by FIFA. If we're going to monkey with the Laws we might as well allow NFL-style snaps instead of throw-ins.

Grumble. Would like to know your thoughts, esteemed referee panel!

Answer provided by Referee Peter Grove

Hi Grant,
I'm not quite sure if you're asking what the ABBA system is or just commenting on its experimental use but just in case you were asking for an explanation of it, it is a system similar to the serving sequence in a tennis tie-break. The team that goes first takes one penalty, then the teams alternate in taking two in a row from that point on. So ABBA is perhaps not the best acronym, it should be more like ABBAA. Another way to think of it, is that after each set of two kicks, the order is reversed, so to give the entire sequence, AB-BA-AB-BA-AB. After the first ten penalties, the teams would revert to single alternating kicks for the 'sudden death' kicks (if required).

In any event, I think you may have been misled by the fact that various media outlets have reported this as if it were a unilateral UEFA modification. This is not the case - it is an experiment that was approved by the IFAB at their AGM in March. As for tinkering, well in one very real sense, the IFAB 'tinkers' with the laws every year when it introduces amendments as it has done at virtually every one of its meetings since its founding in 1886. You might call it tinkering, I think the IFAB prefers to think of it as making changes for the good of the game.

This particular change seems to me, to have a sound basis. The IFAB cites research showing that the team taking the first penalty under the alternating kicks method have a 60 per cent chance of winning, giving them an unfair advantage.

The apparent explanation for this is that when one team is almost constantly playing catch-up, the added stress on their penalty takers puts them at a competitive disadvantage. With the ABBAA system, the chances are that the stress of taking a penalty while your team is behind in the count is more evenly shared.

This IFAB-sanctioned experiment which is being tried out in different competitions and not just by UEFA, is a valid attempt (IMHO) to make things fairer for players, something the IFAB has tried to do throughout its history.

Depending on how the experiments go and whether they prove successful, the change could then be included in a future set of laws amendments.

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Answer provided by Referee Joe McHugh

Hi Grant
Members of IFAB try to improve the Laws each year with amendments to the Laws of the Game. The last big rewrite was in 1997 and 2016 was also a significant law change year with all laws bar Law 2 getting significant revision.
On KFTPM many in IFAB felt that the current system of alternating kicks is unsatisfactory and the new system Your refer to is being trialled.
The thinking behind the new system is the idea that there is greater mental pressure on the player taking the second kick in the ABAB format, thus the advantage for the team striking first being minimised by using ABBA. It finds its origins in the tennis tie break system.
Personally I do not like KFTPM and I would prefer to see a game solution in place. I also feel that IFAB has been reticent to change the fundamentals and I would not describe it as a tinkerer with the Laws. Far from it as they have been slow to change. The discussion on the so called Triple Punishment in DOGSO took many years to get changed. I would say the debate went on from some 10 years before change. The same can be said about technology introduction.

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Answer provided by Referee Richard Dawson

HI Grant,
those that have the POWER to actually initiate changes within the IFAB hierarchy do place a great deal of value on CONTINUED input from those that play coach, watch and officiate as their interests are all about their perspective because they all view the game differently.

The concepts of Fair play & Respect does not necessarily outweigh Tradition but it does provide ways to correct imbalance's or aberration that the modern game incurs. You must certainly agree the pass back concept where boring exchanges of keep away by defenders and keepers was prevented by introducing a new LOTG as an INDFK for deliberately kicking the ball to the keeper to promote more rewarding attacking play and more exciting play to watch. Video technology, two whistle systems - penalty kick alterations: reduce to equate which WAS adapted seen to not be as firm a decision as thought so it was recently altered again to push the fair play aspect though the entire procedure not just at the start. There was brief free kicks from the touchlines for throw ins , a penalty kick from 35 yards out where the kicker dribbled the ball in one on one against the keeper.

Most recently as a result of the 2016 IFAB AGM where the discussion group presented a plan to address the handling call inconstancies we have the new RISK assessment what determines the culpability of a defender who challenges for the ball by going to ground and if the ball strikes the arm faces a deliberate handling offence whether or not it was his intention to do so. While it is currently being taught at the higher levels it remains yet to figure within the advice for the LOTG

The point here though is they really do look at things from an overall perception be it spectator enjoyment as THEY pay the bills to officiating strategy to player needs and coaches demands it takes a lot to effectively convince them to actually change the LOTG. Then like any new thing it takes time to over come prejudices, fix errors or glitches word it effectively until it becomes ingrained within the normal day to day game!

Penalty kicks to decide the match personally I think they suck I rather them play until victory at least at the world cup level but health concerns, time and field constraints all factor into why this is done! I think the number of subs could be opened to provide fresher legs in extra time. Given the fact that who shoot first at KFTPM wins 60% of the time seems rather unfair if the contest is to be equal. If it proves itself perhaps it will be adapted into the LOTG we will see.

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