ABBA penalty format: England gives go ahead, but not everyone is impressed
The new sequence of taking penalties called ABBA may resonate with the name of the famous Swedish band, but is no music to the ears of some former stalwartsfootball Updated: Aug 08, 2017 22:22 IST
The Community Shield clash between Arsenal and Chelsea at Wembley on Sunday saw the winner decided on penalties, taken in its new ABBA format.
The new format has been introduced by the European football governing body, UEFA, to bring a level-playing field in penalty shootouts by reducing the pressure on the team going second.
As per the new system, team A takes the first penalty in the shootout, followed by two in a row by team B, then team A, and so on.
If a shootout heads into sudden death, the ABBA format will ensure a more even distribution of pressure on the teams.
UEFA first tested the system at the women’s U-17 European Championships before England’s Football Association (FA) decided to follow suit in the Community Shield.
The new format will now be seen more often in English domestic football after the English Football League (EFL) decided to adopt it for all its competitions.
However, following Sunday’s shootout, which saw Arsenal trump Premier League champions Chelsea 4-1 on penalties (teams were 1-1 after regulation time), the ABBA method was criticised by two prominent figures in the English game. The match was settled after Chelsea’s Thibaut Courtois and Alvaro Morata missed.
“I liked the format that we already had. It was very exciting, it was tense. It does change the advantage, if you like. If you miss that first penalty – which is the advantage if you score – and the other team scores their first two, then 2-0 is a big advantage for the second team,” said former England and Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard, while covering the game as a commentator for BT Sport.
Gerrard’s fellow commentator and former England manager Glenn Hoddle echoed the comments. “Before, you’d want to go first, but you would think twice now. If they miss you’ve got two opportunities (to score), so do you give them the opportunity to go first?”
The EFL Cup is set to see more games decided by the ABBA penalty format, starting with the first round games on Tuesday night.